Last week, Bayern Munich secured the signature of Julian Nagelsmann, making him the most expensive manager in football history. Thanks in large part to his incredible tactical knowledge, football fans around the globe are now wondering how the German manager might set his team up for success. We add to the discussion, with our picks for 3 ways that Julian Nagelsmann might line up next season!
Julian Nagelsmann has preferred back-three formations throughout his time at both 1899 Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig, and 3-4-2-1 might be the most logical fit. The problem with the formation is in taking Thomas Muller away from the number ten role that he’s had so much success in under Hansi Flick. But Muller started his career as a right winger and would do more than fine as an inverted one in a 3-4-2-1. The German is also 31-years-old and soon enough could be on the decline, so building a formation around the self-proclaimed Raumdeuter might not make too much sense anyway. Further, the system might be the best way to get the best out of Robert Lewandowski in comparison to a 3-1-4-2. The Polish striker has operated throughout his career as a sole striker. Although he’d be easily able to adapt, it might make sense to keep Bayern’s best player in a role that he’s most comfortable with.
It’s a great possession-based system (see Tuchel’s Chelsea), with the ability to simultaneously create width and centrality. This should suit Bayern well, and allow the many wingers they have in their team to continue to operate in roles that best suit their skills. Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane and Kingsley Coman would all make logical sense as inverted wingers and so it will be a useful option for Nagelsmann to have, regardless of it being first choice or not.
The 3-4-2-1 might be a more logical fit for the players that Nagelsmann has at his disposal with Bayern, but it’s undeniable that the 3-1-4-2 has been his preferred choice at both Hoffenheim and Leipzig. Die Roten Bullen have a host of players that also might be more suited to a 3-4-2-1, but frequently play the 3-4-1-2 instead. Dani Olmo and Christopher Nkunku for example are two of the team’s most common choices up top in a front-two, despite likely being more suited to roles as inverted wingers. The formation could become more 3-4-1-2 to allow Muller to have a clearly defined number ten position and Goretzka a more box to box one. But Kimmich is such a perfect fit for the Kevin Kampl ‘number six’ role that Goretzka would not need to have such a defensive role, and could easily push up alongside Muller.
Alphonso Davies would also make sense as a wing-back, while Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez are probably most suited to outside-centre-back positions anyway. Both French defenders are equally capable of playing centre-back and fullback, so a mix between the two positions would be more than ideal. They could then be anchored by a beast at the back like Dayot Upamecano, or the solid Niklas Sule, as the club pushes Serge Gnabry into a striker role. On paper, it’s starting to look very solid, with the caveat that they don’t have a natural right-wing-back in their team at the moment. Kingsley Coman could easily play the role in a sort of Callum Hudson-Odoi way, but Bayern are likely going to want a more solid defensive option. Maybe that’s where Nagelsmann invests if he’s looking to play a back-three next season, or maybe Benjamin Pavard is the man for the role instead.
In truth, Julian Nagelsmann may easily operate in the exact same way as his predecessor next season. He may ease into a back-three, as he did at Leipzig, and continue where Flick left off in the 4-2-3-1 instead. Although Alphonso Davies as a wing-back sounds extremely exciting, he’s also one of the best left-backs in the world and still a great fit for the role. Meanwhile, Thomas Muller would be free to operate in his normal position, with Gnabry, Coman and Sane all free to do so as well. The Bavarian club could easily still create a back-three structure in the build-up with Joshua Kimmich dropping in, as the fullbacks remain high and wide. The most logical thing would probably be for Nagelsmann to continue with the 4-2-3-1, rather than breaking the mould and doing anything tactically innovative. However, this is Julian Nagelsmann we are talking about, and innovation should be expected.
So there it is! 3 Ways Julian Nagelsmann could line up at Bayern Munich. How do you think Nagelsmann will line up? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below, or on social media @bundesligatms. Also be sure to check out more articles below.