Miasanrot Awards 2022/2023: FC Bayern – Team of the Season
Modest, cautious and always focused on the moment – that’s how Alexander Straus sounded last November when he spoke about his plans and FC Bayern Munich’s goals in an interview. At the time, the Bavarians were five points adrift of Bundesliga leaders VfL Wolfsburg, who had won all their games. Perhaps that was the reason for the caution in the coach’s voice.
A few months into his tenure at the helm of FC Bayern women’s football, however, it became increasingly clear that the Bavarians were moving in the right direction under his stewardship. “Control” is one of the words the Norwegian has used almost like a mantra throughout the season. “Process” is another. “We have a very good basis here for this big process we are currently in,” the coach told Miasanrot.de at the time.
Possession, composure, control, compactness on and off the ball – these are the words that best describe Bayern’s development this season. Few would have expected the improvements they have made under their new coach to be enough to win the title straight away – not even the Bavarians themselves. It is the overall package that makes what has been achieved so special. On the one hand, there was the courageous step of hiring Straus, a coach who was not yet very well known in this country. On the other, the outstanding second half of the season, which culminated in the Bundesliga title.
Coming from five points behind to beat Wolfsburg in the final stretch of the season is a remarkable achievement. Bayern have managed to continuously keep the pressure on their rivals, who have often proved too strong for them in recent years.
The improved performance of the team as a whole can also be seen in the improvement of individual players. Before her injury, Linda Dallmann had perhaps her most consistent season in years. The midfield trio of Georgia Stanway, Sarah Zadrazil and Lina Magull have matured into one of the best partnerships in Europe. Glódis Perla Viggósdóttir has also made a huge leap forward. Last year she was error-prone and inconsistent, but last season she was the undisputed leader of the defence.
Carolin Simon is another player who has benefited enormously from the change of coach. The left-back missed parts of the season, but when she was fit, she always performed well. In 16 Bundesliga appearances, she was directly involved in 15 goals. Bayern’s focus on keeping possession and slowing down the tempo has meant that her weakness in transition has become less of an issue. Instead, the team benefits from Simon’s passing and positional skills.
Straus has struck the right balance. He has shown courage in giving young players like Franziska Kett and especially Mala Grohs a chance. The latter was not flawless and is sometimes still prone to making mistakes. If she is to make a lasting impact at Bayern, she will have to become stronger, especially when it comes to dealing with high balls.
But instead of doing what many would have done after the return of the experienced Laura Benkarth, he put his faith in Grohs. The 22-year-old has repaid the favour with some fine saves, particularly in the Champions League.
At the same time, however, the Champions League and the DFB-Pokal have dampened the mood. In both competitions, FC Bayern’s women were rarely able to compete with the big guns. Not even their highlight match at the Allianz Arena against FC Barcelona could hide that fact. In the quarter-finals, FC Arsenal were simply too strong for the Bavarians, despite a number of absentees. And just as they deserved to beat VfL Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga, so too did they deserve to be eliminated from the DFB-Pokal.
Nevertheless, this season should be seen as a foundation on which they can build. With that in mind, the fact that they have already won the championship can hardly be rated highly enough. And that, unlike two years ago, the Bavarians are determined to stay at the top of the table this time is evidenced by their first signings for next season.
Pernille Harder, Magdalena Eriksson and Samantha Kerr – two experienced world-class players and a talented Scot who, like Stanway, could be a sensation if she can fulfil her potential. Of course, Wolfsburg will be keen to strike back. But Bayern’s early signings show they mean business this time around.
For FC Bayern, next season will be crucial. Not only will they be looking to build on this year’s success, but also to take the next steps in the DFB-Pokal and Champions League. Even if a certain modesty has returned with Straus, the Norwegian also exudes a healthy dose of self-confidence. His ambition, and that of FC Bayern, is to establish themselves at the very top of the women’s game.