FC Bayern – Miasanrot Advent Calendar, Door 5: Benjamin Pavard
At Paris St. Germain, they like to call their three super strikers Kylian Mbappé, Lionel Messi, and Neymar the “Avengers”. The French national team and FC Bayern are also full of super heroes.
Pavard is not an Avenger. Pavard is simply Benji. But football teams need Benjis. Being a Benji makes him just as valuable for the Equipe Tricolore as for FC Bayern.
PAVARD’S ROLLERCOASTER RIDE LANDS HIM AT FC BAYERN
Born in the north of France, Pavard took his first steps as a professional footballer close to home at OSC Lille before moving to VfB Stuttgart for €5 million at the age of 20. In three years with the Swabians, he developed from a second-league player into a regular for the Equipe Tricolore, with whom he won the 2018 World Cup.
The following 2018/19 season was disappointing overall for VfB Stuttgart and resulted in relegation. Individually, Pavard also did not have a good season.
Nevertheless, FC Bayern made intensive efforts to sign Pavard and triggered a release option in his contract to sign him for €35 million from relegated VfB Stuttgart.
PAVARD EARNS PLAYING TIME AND TITLES AT FC BAYERN
After a mixed pre-season, expectations of him at FC Bayern were initially modest. Boateng, Alaba and Süle were first picks in central defence. In addition, FC Bayern had invested €80 million in Lucas Hernández, another central defender. On the right side of defence, there was a vacancy after Rafinha had left FC Bayern, but this position appeared to have been set aside for Joshua Kimmich anyway.
So line up at the back for the 23-year-old newcomer? Firstly, things turn out differently and secondly, Pavard.
When the first two games of the new season had been played, he had already accumulated 90 minutes at centre-back. After that, he quickly won himself a regular place at right-back when Kimmich started to be used in midfield more and more often. He did not lose his place even after the change of coach from Niko Kovač to Hansi Flick.
Overall, when the season’s final curtain fell, he had earned the fourth most playing time of all Bayern players. Only Manuel Neuer, Joshua Kimmich and Robert Lewandowski played more than Pavard. With four goals and seven assists, he also proved a handyman offensively.
FC Bayern crowned the season with the Champions League title. Pavard only made one substitution in the final tournament in Lisbon due to injury. A minor annoyance for him after not missing a single minute in the seven Champions League games before the COVID-19 break.
Since he joined FC Bayern, only Manuel Neuer, Joshua Kimmich, Thomas Müller and Robert Lewandowski have accumulated more minutes than Pavard. The Bavarian Avengers. All the other stars – Gnabry, Davies, Coman, Goretzka, Hernández – get significantly less playing time for various reasons.
WHAT MAKES PAVARD SO VALUABLE FOR FC BAYERN
Benjamin Pavard always collects plenty of minutes despite top-class alternatives in defence, regardless of whether Niko Kovač, Hansi Flick, Julian Nagelsmann or Didier Deschamps are in the dugout. These coaches and Hermann Gerland can’t be wrong: always being used is skill.
What makes Pavard so valuable to the coaches?
Pavard is the epitome of a teacher’s pet student who executes his defensive duties reliably and diligently. In the 2022/23 season, he has so far recorded 8.6 successful defensive actions, such as intercepted passes or successful tackles per 90 minutes, according to “Whoscored”. No other Bayern defender reaches these levels.
But Pavard can do more than just defend. His teammates look for him in build-up play. He plays an average of 81 passes per game, which is more than any other defender in the Bayern team. His passes are by no means just mere crosses in the defensive third, too.
Pavard is offensively powerful. It is no coincidence that he scored the 2-2 leveller, officially voted the most beautiful goal of the tournament, in the spectacular round of 16 match between France and Argentina at the 2018 World Cup.
According to FBref, he comes in at 0.21 expected goals and assists per game. Together with the more offensively-minded Alphonso Davies, he also ranks first among Bayern defenders in this statistic.
Benjamin Pavard’s football career is unlikely to be made into a film starring Chris Hemsworth. But Benji is the superstar at the back, whose work ensures that the others can fly undisturbed.