The engine room is the key to any operation or process. Members of the engine room are often considered visionaries and are thought to hold key positions in the organization. In football lingo, the engine room of course refers to that part of the pitch that controls the flow of play ai??i?? the central midfield.

All great teams in history have been blessed with excellent engine rooms at the core. The great Brazilian teams of the 60ai??i??s had Gerson, Clodoaldo and Rivelino, Liverpool of the 80ai??i??s had Greame Souness and Sammy Lee, while the dominant Manchester United side of the late 90ai??i??s and early 2000s had Roy Keane and Paul Scholes at the heart of their midfield. Todayai??i??s Barcelona is also gifted with one of the best midfield combinations ever in Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas.

Central midfielders have a key role in driving a team. They are generally attributed with good vision to pick out team-mates, being hard tacklers, good dribbling skills and an ability to shoot from distance. The central midfield forms a bridge between attack and defense. They initiate attacks by getting balls up front and form the first line of defense by picking out opposing attackers.

Bayern Munichai??i??s dominant sides of the 70ai??i??s, late 90ai??i??s and early 2000ai??i??s had their fair share of midfield conductors. Franz Roth, Franz Beckenbauer (albeit a sweeper) and Uli HoeneAY dominated the center in the 70ai??i??s with their clever passing and dribbling skills. This midfield brilliance continued into the 90ai??i??s as the lethal combination of trickery and muscle in Mehmet Scholl and Steffan Effenberg won Bayern their last European cup.

Louis van Gaal, despite his flaws can be considered as a brilliant tactician. When he took over the reins at Bayern in 2009, he was quick to recognize their short comings over the previous two seasons. Bayern had lost their core of Michael Ballack and Owen Hargreaves to English clubs and Ze-Roberto had started showing signs of aging legs. Bayernai??i??s 2009-2010 campaign is best remembered for Ivica Olicai??i??s late burst of goals and Arjen Robbenai??i??s wonder strikes. But what really ran the show that season was van Gaalai??i??s decision to partner Mark Van Bommel with Bastian Schweinsteiger. The move worked brilliantly with Schweinsteiger playing the more advanced role, picking out teammates with brilliant passes and Van Bommel doing the dirty work. Van Bommelai??i??s departure definitely left a hole in the middle which has been quite evident over the last two seasons, more so last season which was coupled with Schweinsteiger’s injury.

Bayern Munich Bayern Munich Bayern Munich

Bayern's sole midfield warrior at the moment

Bayern Munich Bayern Munich Bayern Munich

Bayernai??i??s think-tank seem to have finally recognized this flaw and have started looking for candidates to orchestrate the game in the middle of the field. Javi Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), Lars Bender (Bayer Leverkusen) and more recently Nigel De-Jong (Manchester City) have been linked with the club.

Javi Martinez has been in the news for the last couple of months with a number of top clubs trying to get his signature. He offers versatility in both midfield and defense with his ability to play as a defensive midfielder and a center back. Bayern Munich are of course included in the list. Recent reports suggest that his ai??i??40m price tag has warded him from Bayern. For most Bayern fans, he represents the final piece of the puzzle. A Schweinsteiger-Martinez partnership in the middle can probably bring back what Schweinsteiger and Van Bommel did for the German giants. His ability in midfield and defense is what Bayern probably need to lay their hands on silverware this season.

Bayern Munich Bayern Munich Bayern Munich

Is he Bayern's best option?

Bayern Munich Bayern Munich Bayern Munich

Lars Bender seems to have what it takes to become a top-class midfield general, but he is still young and learning the trade. His recent showing at EURO 2012 has also shown his ability to fill in at right back, a position that has potential to trouble Bayern. Unfortunately, Leverkusen flatly tuned down Bayernai??i??s enquiry.

The most recent rumor is that of Nigel De-Jong, who seems to have slipped down the pecking order at the Etihad Stadium. Heai??i??s more of a robust midfielder whoai??i??s known for his rather rough play and hard tackles and his ability to break down attacks.

One of the above mentioned players can be considered a good inclusion into the roster but the question to be asked is whether an extra midfielder is really needed?

Bayernai??i??s current central midfield is comprised of Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos, Luis Gustavo, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and David Alaba. The very promising Emre Can has been promoted to the senior squad. Toni Kroos and Schweinsteiger play the attacking midfielder with either of Gustavo, Tymoshchuk or Alaba entrusted to fill in as a defensive midfielder.

Kroos is a typical attacking midfielder. He has a venomous shot and a good vision for passes. But he cannot be considered a complete midfielder due to his lack of defensive instincts. He has failed to read the flow at times and has been found wanting at the back when Bayern are on the defensive. Schweinsteiger is more of the ai???complete midfielderai??i?? having all the qualities of a box-to-box midfielder. His presence was missed last season and Bayern fans will be hoping to see him play 100 % fit come the new campaign.

Gustavo is an outright destroyer. He slots himself in-front of the two center backs and does the donkey work for Bayern. His most notable performance last season was against Real Madrid during the Champions League semi-final. He kept Khedira and Alonso in check and was Ozilai??i??s shadow for much of the game.

With the quality Bayern have in Kroos, Schweinsteiger and Gustavo not to mention the ever improving Alaba and protAi??gAi?? Emre Can, do Bayern need another midfielder? Can Martinez, Bender or De Jong bring something different to the midfield?

Schweinsteiger and Kroos have the quality to break open ai???parked busesai??i?? and pick-out the runs of attackers. In Gustavo and Alaba , Bayern have two good, if not excellent defensive midfielders who read the game very well. Bender is more in the mold of Schweinsteiger and De-Jong is not very different from Gustavo. Javi Martinez is probably better than Gustavo defensively and as mentioned can slot into the CB position.

But what Bayern really need is a no-nonsense midfielder. They need a Mark-Van-Bommel or a Stefen Effenberg, a true midfield beast and a ai???give it all I haveai??? player. A leader who can dictate the play, spur his teammates and take control of things when they arenai??i??t going your way. Sadly, it is hard to find players like that in the transfer market right now. Martinez, Bender and De-Jong can probably bring about a different dimension to Bayernai??i??s play but none can be considered game changers. They probably canai??i??t bring in anything different from what Bayern already have. Bayernai??i??s search for a midfield conductor must continue.

______________

Written by Guest Author Siddharth Mohan

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8 Responses to “Bayern Munich – Does the Bavarian Engine Room Need Any Tinkering?”

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  1. Suleiman kano says:

    Mia san mia

  2. shah says:

    Alaba – a defensive midfielder ??? ha ha ….man get your facts right..first

    • Sid says:

      Did you watch Bundesliga last season? He played along side Gustavo/Kroos in 2-3 games and played pretty good. He was used as a defensive midfielder by Hoffenheim when he was on loan.

  3. Shashi Tarique says:

    Wow !!!! This is really true that Bayern need a MIDFIELDER like Effenber or Van Bommel But Alaba as a defensive midfielder I don’t know about that you don’t want Bayern to lose like Die Mannschaft against Italy wrong player in a wrong place they were all over the place caused them big …..

    • Sid says:

      Alaba’a pretty good at CDM. True his best position is at LB or LW but he’s not bad as a CDM. Not suggesting he should start, all am saying is he’s a good back-up for CDM.

  4. kss says:

    as bayern enquired about…they need a guy like khedira!! and plz do not mention fabreGAS in same terms as xavi, iniesta, and all d bigshots u named!! he s gud bt still needs time to reach thr

  5. lucas says:

    good idea for an article, but not very well executed. it didnt explain the situation well enough or the possible solutions and their nuances. at full strength, the midfield is guztavo>tymo for the more defensive of the defensive midfielders, schweinsteiger>alaba for the more creative of the two, and kroos=muller (but totally different style) for the center attacking midfield spot. i do, by theway, think khedira would be perfect.