Ruckrunde Preview: Bayern Munich
The shortest ever winter hiatus in German football is about to come to an end, which gives us the opportunity to profile each team's chances in the second half of the campaign as we preview them one by one.
The main focus would be on the top dogs of German football- the likes of Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Monchengladbach, Borussia Dortmund et al.
We've already covered Gladbach, Leverkusen, Schalke and Leipzig in our previous articles and next up is Bayern Munich.
Season so far
It has been a season full of ups and downs for the German champions this term.
While the first half of the Hinrunde campaign was a disaster for the mighty Bayern, where they slumped to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of PSG, in addition to experiencing a three-game winless streak (you're reading about Bayern, folks!), the appointment of Jupp Heynckes has worked wonders for the Bavarian outfit.
The legendary coach of Bayern Munich acquires a staggering rate of 2.81 points per game during his fourth managerial stint at the club.
Since his appointment in early October, Bayern have dropped points only once(2-1 defeat vs BMG) but have won the rest of their 16 matches, which includes 3-1 drubbings of both Dortmund and PSG.
Like their previous five seasons or so, Bayern have been excellent in every aspect of the game.
They boast the strongest defence in the league with just 11 goals conceded in 17 matches while their tally of 37 goals is only bettered by Borussia Dortmund.
Furthermore, they lead the shots tally by a significant margin thanks to an incredible total of 331 shots so far this season (BVB's 267 is 2nd best). They also lead the charts when it comes to shots on target (120) as well as shots from open play (241).
Overall, Bayern Munich should be very happy with their performance in the Hinrunde. Currently leading the Bundesliga table with a staggering eleven point gap to second-placed Schalke, winning the league won't be the toughest of asks for the Bavarians this season.
Targets for the second half of the campaign
When you're at Bayern, you are expected to win everything and this season will be no different.
The German champions are already running away with the Bundesliga title but fans would expect no less than at least a double this season. Having been drawn against Paderborn in the DFB Pokal quarterfinals, they are highly expected to clinch the Pokal too.
However, it will be interesting to see how Jupp Heynckes readies his troops for the Champions League knockout stages. The 74-year-old guided Bayern to their first ever treble during the 2012-13 campaign.
Therefore, it will definitely be intriguing to see how Bayern performs in the UCL knockout stages under the tutelage of the legendary Jupp Heynckes.
Transfer market activity
Bayern Munich are heavily linked with a move for Leon Goretzka in the summer. Goretzka, whose contract with Schalke will run dry after the end of the season, could be an amazing addition to this Bayern side.
Elsewhere, Bayern have also signed prized Hoffenheim striker Sandro Wagner, who would definitely boost their attacking department, especially if Lewandowski gets injured.
However, finding a proper replacement for head coach Jupp Heynckes should be imperative for the Bavarians.
While the likes of Julian Nagelsmann, Thomas Tuchel and Ralph Hasenhuttl has been already identified as strong candidates to replace the 74-year-old next campaign, Eintracht boss and former Bayern midfielder Niko Kovac could also be considered as an option for the Bavarians.
Here's a look at what we think has been FC Bayern's strongest lineup this season.
Players to look at
Arturo Vidal has been heavily linked with a move to Chelsea in recent weeks and with his contract expiring in 2019, Bayern might like to get rid of the Chilean midfielder next season.
However, that hasn't deterred his performances this season as he has already scored five times in the Bundesliga so far, two of which were vital last-minute winners. In the absence of Thiago, his presence in midfield could be vital for the German champions.
After moving to the Allianz Arena on a long deal, Real Madrid's James Rodriguez has quickly found his feet in Germany, having already been involved in six goals so far this season. His impressive performances could force Bayern to complete a permanent deal for the Colombian superstar in the upcoming summer.
Also read: Ruckrunde preview: RB Leipzig
Bayern have a glorious opportunity of securing a treble this season, considering the fact that both Dortmund and Leipzig are already out of the Cup competition. On top of that, Bayern are already leading the Bundesliga table by eleven points.
Although they have been rather mediocre when it comes to the Champions League stages in recent seasons, the experience of Jupp Heynckes coupled with his aggressive tactics could well guide the Bavarians to their second ever treble in the club's history.
Also read: Ruckrunde preview: Bayer Leverkusen