Bayern: Opportunities, risks, construction sites - Niko Kovac's biggest challenge
Lahmsteiger Blog: Opportunities, risks, construction sites: Niko Kovac's biggest challenge at Bayern
Who comes? Who else is going? Why are the Munichers not making much progress in the market? Niko Kovac's views on the philosophy of the club look deep. He has to solve an important task.
Sometimes it is the small and inconspicuous statements of a press conference that provide deeper insights than anything else. So also on Tuesday afternoon, as Niko Kovac first time in the new season of the assembled press. The most discussed topic was again the transfers: Who is coming? Who else is going? Why are the Munichers not making much progress in the market? The change announced for years is now here. But not the answers to Leroy Sane or Ousmane Dembele, but Kovac's views on the philosophy of the club look deep.
Bayern has a certain system since Louis van Gaal and "at the end of the season was a lot like where we want to go," said the 47-year-old. But he did not become more specific. After all, there are many positive aspects that should be transported into the new season. Ultimately, it would be about automating processes and be able to solve similar situations again and again.
Again, the concretization is missing: Which processes? Which situations? In principle, Niko Kovac is with his statement but right on the spot: The Bayern are missing a few players, but much more decisive in the end it will be whether the single player as a team can make the decisive step forward. Because the double already outshined in the much-praised second half of the great tactical weaknesses, which would probably be punished harder this season.
Kovac's central problem: The ball does not come in the middle
For the sake of apparent stability, Kovac took less and less risk over the course of the season and was confirmed by results that belied the actual development of the team. That the Bavarians after the autumn still champion and cup winner, Kovac is indeed highly creditable. But with the performances shown it will be even more difficult in the new season. The game of Bayern was too predictable, but due to the lack of quality but could rarely be exploited by the teams in Germany.
Especially the midfield center played a big role here: The Bayern had so much to fight with the infamous "U-structure", that the place had to be cared for only on the wings. A "U-structure" is when the players are positioned so that the ball does not get into the center, but circulates only in its own defense chain or on the wings - just like in a "U". The end of the song last season: Bayern beat in the Bundesliga on average 23 flanks per game. Under Guardiola, this figure was comparatively less than 20 in all three years.
But it's not so much the number, but rather the success rate. Flanks can also be played well and they can also make a lot of sense with a corresponding target player as 2013 with Mandzukic. Finely played and thought-out moves, however, have been seen less and less recently. Especially duels with low-lying opponents usually ended in an excessive flank festival, in which the ball regularly found the long and high way into the box, but not to a good scoring chance. In the 1-1 draw at Nuremberg, for example, the Kovac team beat 33 flanks - four led to deals.
Important (construction) construction site for Niko Kovac - solution by Pep
Individual flashes of inspiration as well as chance determined the performance on offense and although this led to good results and even many goals in the second half of the season, the dependence on these factors must be strongly questioned. Because the treacherous on results and numbers is that they do not always allow a clear statement about the development of a team. Kovac and his team have a mountain of challenges to solve if success is to be achieved.
If Sané does not come: Bayern expert brings cheap wing alternatives into play
One of them is in the construction game, which without Mats Hummels needs more such automated processes, which Kovac addressed at the press conference. In concrete terms this means that more triangles have to be formed with points of attack in the center to simplify life for Sule, Hernandez and Pavard and at the same time not to spread the game too soon. Because the Bayern play the ball already in its own half on the wings, automatically the spaces for the wingers are also narrower, because the opponent can adjust to it.
One way to counter this could be possession of an additional midfielder. Guardiola showed in the 2015/16 season, how to do it: At that time he had his captain Philipp Lahm regularly change positions. With Ball, he acted as another game designer in the center, without ball he moved back into right-back in the back four.
Change as a chance, troublemakers are gone: more courage from Niko Kovac?
Kovac has a player in the squad with Kimmich, who would be predestined for this role. Thiago could also move one position higher in many phases of the game, closing the hole in the midfield center. In midfield, most of Bayern's big games have been decided in the last ten years. It is therefore perhaps the biggest task for the coming season to restore the balance there and to increase control.
The tactical options in the squad are diverse. One of them: Kimmich as a hybrid player between defense and midfield.
That's why change also offers the coach a great opportunity: if he first entered an existing hierarchy as an outsider, he can actively help shape it. Almost all players who had a problem with Kovac in any way are gone now. With Hernandez Bayern have already committed a player who fits well with his complete package of dynamics, speed, robustness and strategic ability to Niko Kovac. Maybe he'll even find it easier to implement his ideas with a changed squad.
It is up to Kovac to take the decisive step and to become more courageous. Because of the broken hierarchy it comes naturally to holes, which he must fill as a moderator. One of them is also the broken away experience of top players, who were able to lead a team in difficult moments.
High expectations: The close season for Kovac is over
Kovac has already formulated the expectations for itself with the statements about the playing style of FC Bayern in the past. The fact that Kovac currently expects a small difference between the football of the past season and the successful time until 2016, could be an indication that he has rated the performance too much after the results.
For Kovac this season is crucial. He has developed his continued employment through good results in the second half and two titles. But if he does not take the next step in his development as a coach, it will be difficult for him in Munich. With Hansi Flick, the native Berliner has at least one man at his side, who is considered a respected professional in tactical aspects. That was Peter Hermann too, but maybe it's the positive relationship between Kovac and Flick from the beginning that can make all the difference.
At any rate, the upheaval is here and the expectations are high: Something new has to be set up, but at the same time, one also wants to be successful. But Kovac must follow his words deeds and give the squad the tools to implement his ideas on the court. The transfers are one thing, but in the end it will depend on where the path with Niko Kovac will lead on tactical-strategic level - because here the foundation for a new era in the coming weeks must be laid.
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In the video - Bayern expert criticized transfer policy and indicates Salihamidzic-off