The two players have been incredibly influential on Bayern’s offensive play for a long time and the game against Borussia Dortmund was another reminder of their ongoing importance. In this week’s article, we want to look at Bayern’s dependency on single players. To do that, we’re using a statistic that we’ve used last season already.
Like then, we want to look beyond the classic identifiers of goals and assists, but rather focus on shots and key passes per player, compared to the entire team’s shots and key passes. To reduce the influence of minutes played, we’ve calculated each player’s values per 90 minutes.
In the graph, the size of each dot shows the number of minutes played for each player. Stats for a player with fewer minutes played are less meaningful and more prone to fluctuation. To make the graph easier to read, we’ve used one colour per team section, which will be helpful in identifying offensively dangerous players in defense and midfield.
It’s hardly surprising that Polish goal machine Robert Lewandowski is far ahead in shots on goal, although his level of key passes is only average. Only slightly more surprising is Lahm with the highest number of key passes and his shot aversion.
What’s interesting is the spread among offensive midfielders and wingers, showing an obvious divide between providers and finishers. Ribéry is an obvious provider, who manages to successfully complete dribbles and then find his team-mate to put them into good scoring positions.
The second half of congenial duo Robbery can be found at the other extreme: Robben tries to score himself, first of all, with most shots after Lewandowski – before Müller (!). The game against Borussia Dortmund was another showcase of his trigger happy left foot. However, the Dutchman is far from being a one trick pony, finding his space in Bayern’s top third for key passes.
Costa and Müller are both more balanced, shining as providers as well as finishers. Like in many stats, Costa looks in fine form here, as well, placing amongst the top three within the squad for each number. Coman is slightly below the other offensive players, although his lack of playing time makes his position less representative.
A little bit unexpectedly, Kimmich is slightly ahead of Thiago, elected as Player of the Month more than once this season. His strength in shots, in particular, is likely due to his strong season start, when he scored four goals in five Bundesliga games. Vidal, who is often noticeable on the field with his offensive presence, is more subdued in these numbers.
Special case Lahm aside, the three full-backs are noticeably similar in their profile, with a clear offensive ranking with the two left-backs ahead of Rafinha. After his disappointing Euro and a difficult start into the league season, Alaba’s values are now similar to that of the central midfielders.
The centre-backs, meanwhile, show a clear allocation of tasks. Martínez is balanced offensively and appears more in defensive statistics. Boateng focuses on his laser passes and Hummels mostly profits of his strong headers especially after set-pieces.
What does this mean for FC Bayern?
The grey diagonals show the levels of offensive dependency of the team on a single player. Ribéry isn’t quite at the top anymore, pushed aside by Costa, who reaches the team’s highest value overall. It becomes obvious, however, that Bayern doesn’t rely on one single player, but rather almost all the offensive players are on a similar level, meaning that losing Robben would have a similar impact to losing Costa.
In a year or two, however, when both Ribéry and Robben have left the club, this graph should come under scrutiny once more. After all, one sixth of shots and key passes will be gone alongside with them. According to media reports, however, a brandt new offensive weapon might be on its way to Munich.
Much will depend on the development of both players already in the team, as well as potential additions, and whether or not they can influence a game on the highest level – the way Robben and Ribéry e.g. did in that night at Wembley.
Maximum offensive spectacle
Last season, Guardiola was firing on all cylinders for home games, playing five attackers plus Thiago. In a nod to the Golden State Warriors, we called that his “Lineup of Death”. So far, we haven’t seen Ancelotti use that same powerhouse yet, merely a slightly tamed version of the beast with four attacking players plus Thiago, plus one defensive midfielder to secure defense.
Based on the graph, we can recommend the ideal “Lineup of Death” (from an offensive point of view). This includes, of course, the three players from the top corner: Lewandowski, Robben, and Costa. Alongside them, the fourth attacker is Ribéry – Müller will have to stay on the bench as an alternative. Next to Thiago, who is a given, Kimmich would be ideal for filling the role of defensive midfielder with maximum offensive output.
As we all know, football isn’t maths, and it’s down to Ancelotti to find a system where players can display their full dominance offensively, without giving the opponent too much space defensively.
Numbers true as of 2 April 2017
Let’s have a look at the links for this week
How Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund became Germany’s biggest rivalry | Thomas Hautmann | Fox Sports
Ribéry and Robben’s time machine never breaks! | Michel Munger | Bayern Central
Bundesliga Goalkeepers in 2016-17: Scrooges vs Givers | Bundesliga Fanatic | Travis Timmons
Philipp Lahm: Bayern Munich not at fault for Bundesliga domination | ESPN | Mark Lovell
Thomas Müller: the first and possibly last Raumdeuter | These Football Times | Callum Rice-Coates
The Lob: An interview with former Bayern Munich and Germany under-21 midfielder Frank Gerster | These Football Times | Jim Hart | Jon Townsend
Bayern Munich’s Upcoming Ides of April | Bundesliga Fanatic | Susie Schaaf
Thomas Muller’s form coming at right time for Bayern Munich | ESPN | Gabriele Marcotti
Football and Crime: Breno and Bruno | Outside of the Boot | Oliver McManus
Philipp Lahm: No regrets over 2009 Bayern Munich transfer criticism | ESPN | Mark Lovell
Arturo Vidal: Real Madrid will attack Bayern Munich in Champions League | ESPN | Dermot Corrigan
Thiago or Nothing | The Ringer | Tom Payne
Uli Hoeness: New Bayern Munich sporting director has nothing to fear | ESPN | Mark Lovell
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