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The most important questions about the future of FCB under Thomas Tuchel



FC Bayern Munich, Thomas Tuchel, analysis, tactics, future

Thomas Tuchel should lead FC Bayern Munich to titles after Julian Nagelsmann’s dismissal – at best to a triple. But how can he do that? And what can the record champions expect from their new coach? The most important questions about FCB’s sporting future in Tuchel.

There are so many levels on which the dismissal of Julian Nagelsmann and the commitment of Thomas Tuchel seem special, debatable and in some places a bit absurd. Emotionally, interpersonally, even sportingly, opinions differ as to whether this decision by FC Bayern Munich is really the right one.

But now Tuchel is here and he has exactly six games ahead of him, after which all the titles could already be gone or almost gone. First the top game against Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, then the quarter-finals in the DFB Cup against SC Freiburg and then, in addition to other games in the league, the two crucial quarter-finals duels with Manchester City in the Champions League.

“Of course that puts me under pressure,” said Tuchel at his presentation: “But if you sign for Bayern, it’s about playing for all the titles.” But it is particularly interesting that the 49-year-old will hardly have any training sessions to put his stamp on the team. First the international break, then English weeks – between abstinence and regeneration, he says he will have to solve a lot with small game forms and tactical units.

But what is there to solve at a club that still has good chances of winning titles in all competitions? How much and what will Tuchel adjust? And will he now turn Bayern into a defensive bulwark? The most important questions about the sporting cooperation between Tuchel and Munich.

FC Bayern Munich: What problems does Thomas Tuchel actually have to solve?

In the Bundesliga, FC Bayern is in second place – with the chance to take the lead again in the next game. In the DFB-Pokal there is a home game in the quarter-finals and in the Champions League the record champions are playing a flawless season with eight wins and 21-2 goals. So what exactly should Tuchel solve?

If the bosses have their way, consistency is the big issue. Bayern have simply messed up too often in the Bundesliga. Although there were only three defeats, there were also seven draws. Despite an impressive tally of 72 goals in 25 games, offense is part of the worry. Players like Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sané or, more recently, Jamal Musiala and Thomas Müller don’t play consistently enough and often have slacks.

During the course of the season there were too many games in which Bayern hardly created any dangerous chances. Games with many goals and degrees alternated regularly with weaker performances. Sometimes the train to the goal was missing completely and the defensive was also endangered by simple ball losses.

FC Bayern Munich: What can Thomas Tuchel change in the short term?

A change of coach often initially has a psychological effect. Tuchel is known as a good communicator who can push players to their limits. The fact that he is less of a buddy type than Nagelsmann could be an advantage for the current phase. Due to the new distance and the change, the team has more responsibility again. “Not all players will be super happy,” explained Tuchel: “There is a big upheaval when a head coach leaves. Uncertainty can arise there.” He has to deal with that first and get the team behind him as quickly as possible.

Tactically, the former Chelsea FC coach will not be able to change that much. The training units and the time are simply not available for this. “It’s not the time for big changes in system or tactics,” analyzed Tuchel, who was also surprised by the timing of the change of coach: “Therefore, less is more, it will be about details. I have an idea what you can do and a lot of anticipation.”

Tuchel’s success at all his stations can be explained above all with one question: What kind of football does he actually stand for? Because it is not easy to answer. So far he has coached FSV Mainz 05, Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint-Germain and FC Chelsea in the professional field.

All of these teams showed parallels under him, but he set different priorities. Tuchel is someone who is excellent at adapting his strategy and tactics to the profile of the squad at his disposal. That’s why he was not only successful at his stations, but mostly right away.

FC Bayern Munich: Is Thomas Tuchel now parking the bus?

A concern of some FC Bayern fans, reading the reactions on social media, is that Tuchel is taking a destructive and defensive approach to the record champions. With Chelsea he won the Champions League with a five-chain system. He was not remembered there for spectacular attacking football. In his previous duels with FC Bayern, he and all his teams chose a tactical approach that was primarily aimed at pressing the ball well and switching dangerously after winning the ball.

However, fans of attacking football in recent years do not have to worry that FC Bayern will compete with Union Berlin or Atlético Madrid with their style of play. It is quite possible that Tuchel will choose a more defensive approach, especially in the duels with Manchester City, in order to take advantage of the speed of his offensive players in switching behavior. Otherwise, a variable pressing can be expected, which can offer a lot from large pressure phases to a compact midfield pressing. But a big core aspect of his philosophy is anyway good positional play in ball possession.

There will probably be the biggest change for FC Bayern. Nagelsmann’s football at FC Bayern was often characterized by direct play on the offensive. A lot of risk, a lot of vertical passes in the narrow spaces in the center, high speed – these are attributes that will not completely lose their value under Tuchel. Nevertheless, he stands above all for a calmer game structure.

The new coach will probably start there with high priority in order to stabilize Bayern Munich under pressure and to avoid simple ball losses. Under Flick and Nagelsmann, Bayern’s game was characterized by many physical components and a high level of counter-pressing. Tuchel could focus more on the playful component again. Especially in the short term, it will be about minimizing mistakes and uncertainties and possibly reducing the pace of the game a little bit.

Nagelsmann has already established good positions in positional play that Tuchel can use. Nevertheless, it is conceivable that he would loosen up the central focus a bit and would like to integrate the speed on the wings even better through targeted shifts by placing his players wider, especially in the last third. Because under Nagelsmann, Bayern often succeeded in tying down the opponent in central areas. However, they were less able to take advantage of the resulting spaces on the flanks in one-on-one situations. A possible starting point for Tuchel.

FC Bayern Munich: What will change in the medium and long term as a result of Thomas Tuchel?

With Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain he sometimes played highly attractive ball possession football. It is more likely that his ideas for FC Bayern correspond more to these stages in his career than to those at Chelsea. Precisely because he always found suitable tactical solutions under very different conditions, he is currently one of the best coaches in the world.

In the medium and long term, Bayern could possibly develop more in the direction of the football they played under Pep Guardiola. For this, Tuchel may need one or two newcomers. The midfield in particular has changed more and more in recent years. Players like Toni Kroos, Xabi Alonso or recently Thiago no longer exist.

FC Bayern primarily relied on physically strong players who can play as much space as possible. Leon Goretzka is the prime example of this. Joshua Kimmich is the strategist in midfield and has an outstanding passing game, but with his offensive drive he is not a classic anchor six who can hold the team parts together.

With Julian Weigl, Tuchel had a player at Borussia Dortmund who consistently held his position and regulated the structure of play there as well as cohesion when pressing against the ball. Also at Paris Saint-Germain (Marco Verratti or Leandro Paredes) and Chelsea (Jorginho ) he had such types of players. If Kimmich is to take on this role, he will have to be much more disciplined. It remains to be seen whether anything will happen in this position in terms of transfer in the summer.

FC Bayern Munich: chain of three or chain of four?

The all-important question, which is often not so important for coaches: Will FC Bayern line up with a back three or a back four under Tuchel?

In a three-man system, Alphonso Davies and João Cancelo are ideal wingers for width. In this way, Tuchel could continue to work on the approach that Nagelsmann had recently followed: to compensate for the departure of Robert Lewandowski with several offensive players in more central areas.

A four-chain formation is also conceivable. In Paris, Tuchel mostly played in a 4-4-2, while BVB often played in a 4-1-4-1. Then, like his predecessors, he will probably rely less on two attacking full-backs, but more on players like Benjamin Pavard or Josip Stanisic, who also protect at the back. A clearer dual leadership would be an offensive option. With Thomas Müller, Sadio Mané, Serge Gnabry and Jamal Musiala, Tuchel has several players who could provide more depth as a second striker alongside Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.

What the native Swabian decides to do is hardly predictable. The promise of tactical flexibility, which Nagelsmann once mentioned as a great advantage, is also given by Tuchel. He can do a lot with this squad. In his career, Tuchel has proven many times that he can be successful in a very short time.

But what plays into his hands in Munich: He doesn’t take over a heap of rubble, but a world-class team that recently defeated Pais Saint-Germain 3-0 in two games. That too is certainly a level that makes the whole topic so special. After the next six games, there will probably be another one.