15 predictions for the FC Bayern 2019/20 season
As has become tradition, we will once again make a number of predictions for the upcoming Bundesliga season. Seldom has this been as difficult as the upcoming year. According to their own announcements, Bayern can be expected to make at least two additional transfers, which could yet considerably raise the quality of the squad and thus have an impact on our predictions.
Nevertheless, in contrast to Bayern we want to finish our job before the beginning of the season and be gauged by our predictions at its end despite any remaining uncertainties.
The procedure is as follows: we make our 15 predictions now and after the end of the season, we will recap where we were right, where we were wrong and where we were almost right. Based on that, we will award points. For each correct prediction we give one, for each wrong prediction zero, and for each almost correct prediction half a point. We use the intermediate value because even though we try to be as precise as possible, some gray areas remain.
But that’s enough with the introduction – let’s go!
There are just too many similarities to the 2011 and 2012 campaigns: internal arguments, resting on prior achievements, discussions about the coach, disagreements about the future direction of the club, a strong contender from Dortmund – the parallels abound.
However, Dortmund has to prove first that they can live up to all the praise that has been coming their way. Bayern will not surpass 80 points this year, but they will get more than 75. This offers Dortmund a small chance. They took 76 points last season. If they can repeat this figure, the title is in reach. It is going to be an exciting contest either way.
The same as last season, the coaching team will not be able to stabilize Bayern’s defense completely. Last season, Bayern conceded 32 goals in the league. It will not be quite as many this time, but Bayern will concede at least 25 goals. We will only know after the end of the season whether this has still been too many (cf. Prediction 1).
There are many reasons why Bayern managed to score 88 goals last season. There will not be quite as many free-scoring games this year. Bayern has been attempting to establish a more courageous and aggressive attacking game. This worked fairly well in preparation and in the cup against Cottbus. How valuable these efforts ultimately turn out to be under competitive conditions on a weekly basis remains to be seen. Nonetheless: Bayern will score at least 70 and no more than 80 goals.
Niko Kovač has announced his intention that he wants his team to progress further in the Champions League than last season. That would mean reaching at least the quarter-finals. Our prediction: we do not quite know when, but Bayern will go out at the hands of their first top-class opponent. Among these we count: Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Atlético Madrid, Liverpool FC, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, and Juventus Turin. How this defeat will be received by club, fans, and media depends on the manner of the performance. Because much worse than an early exit would be another disgraceful presentation like that against Liverpool not too long ago.
Another parallel to 2012 would be if there were major changes in management again. Uli Hoeness will probably announce his resignation in due course. With him, the biggest advocate of the sporting director would disappear. Subsequently, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge will get more freedom in decision making. As a consequence, Hasan Salihamidžić will eventually have to leave Bayern. He is under too much pressure already and the list of mistakes he has made is too long. Making Salihamidžić the sporting director was an attempt to promote a young man early in his career and give him the space for development. Before the end of this season, Bayern will realize that this attempt has failed and not everyone is capable of filling such a role.
There will be one title for Bayern at least! In the DFB Cup, team and coach will demonstrate their unique cup qualities and raise the golden cup into the dark Berlin sky once again. Niko will finally become our national K.O.-vač.
He was one of the key players in the second half of last season. He will become even more important this time around. His goal instinct and his one-on-one skills will further endear him to the Bayern fans. He will easily exceed his 22 goal involvements of last season: he will have at least 30 in all competitions this time.
A year full of complications, maybe just one title, a lot of restructuring – what on earth could be Leroy Sané’s incentive to make the move to Bayern? He will not come now, but throughout the season, Bayern will stay in close contact with him, closely follow his healing process and ultimately convince him to make the switch and become the face of a new era. Sané will join Bayern. The transfer of Kai Havertz will be completed relatively early as well. The current Leverkusen player has been repeatedly linked with Bayern and all indications are that his transfer has moved beyond the wishlist stage. Havertz too will move to the city at the Isar before next season kicks off. Both transfers will be announced before 30 June, 2020.
Currently, the transfer of the Croat is still a subject of mockery, but during the season, he will prove that he can be a reliable player. A balanced squad needs players who are willing to take a back seat and accept sitting on the bench for a time. Similar to Rafinha, Perišić will be an important squad player. Bayern will recognise Perišić’s value and sign him on a permanent contract from 2020/21 on.
Bayern’s youth players did not have a high priority as first team players last season. This will continue to be the case. All academy players between them will not collect more than 100 minutes of first team playing time – in all competitions.
Although the Portuguese gave a convincing performance during preparation, that might not be enough. Corentin Tolisso, Leon Goretzka, Thomas Müller and any potential new arrival – they all have a higher priority than Sanches. In preparation, the 21-year-old was able to set a marker with good movements, proper positional play and a lot of energy going forward, but it does not appear that he has genuinely gained the trust of his coaches. His potential though is huge. If any coach could manage to eliminate his tendency to lose concentration and focus during a game, he would be a real asset to the regular team. Because even though his style of play resembles that of Tolisso and Goretzka, he has shown twinkles of strategic qualities that could make him valuable for this season. The coaching team may have different views. Sanches will have more game time than last season but clock in at under 1200 minutes. Whether he can live with that, is for him to decide.
Hardly any other foreign player has found his way into the Bayern fans’ hearts quite like Javi Martínez in recent years. But the Basque’s best days seem to be behind him. Already last season, the 29-year-old collected only 2257 competitive minutes. Kovač has repeatedly indicated that he needs a different kind of player, especially against teams opting to sit back and defend. And there is plenty of competition for the center-back position too. As a consequence, Martínez will play less this season than in the previous one. If our prediction is in fact true, we can not say with certainty what this portends for his future at Bayern.
If the trends of preparation continue, Bayern will deliver fewer crosses from open play. It would be wrong to conclude that Joshua Kimmich will have fewer assists because of this. The German international will continue to be heavily involved in offensive play and strike a good deal of Bayern’s set pieces. Therefore, Kimmich will remain Bayern’s assist leader.
Admittedly, this is not to bold a prediction to make. But because Robert Lewandowski has been at the receiving end of a lot of blame in recent years, we believe that it bears repeating: Lewandowski is absolute world class and this is not going to change anytime soon. If one of his teammates were kind enough to play him a proper pass every now and then, he might even score in a Champions League knockout tie. At any rate, he is going to score at least 40 goals in all competitions. Even if Perišić has already arrived and Mandžukić may yet follow.
Opinions differ about Niko Kovač. But he will remain Bayern’s head coach for the entire season. Why? Because he will prove his capacity to adapt and learn, not least from his two assistants Hansi Flick and Danny Röhl. Bayern will improve tactically and technically, but the team will be shown its limits in the Champions League. However, the gap to Europe’s predominant footballing powerhouses will be significantly smaller than last season. This is why Kovač will stay on as Bayern’s head coach beyond this season. One exception: a sudden and irrefutable opportunity arises for the club to hire someone who would be a substantial improvement on Kovač.
*Premise: Bayern signs at least one more midfielder.