Badstuber Injured, Boateng Suspended: Here Are Bayern's Possible Replacements
Four days ago, Bayern Munich had no plans to improve their squad during the January transfer window. The starting XI was strong, and each position had at least one or two replacements available from the bench.
That has changed dramatically in recent days.
It began on Saturday, when Holger Badstuber sustained a cruciate ligament tear that will keep him sidelined until the season's end. Just how badly the Germany international will be missed is unknown.
But at least Bayern had another solid pairing possible in Dante and Jerome Boateng. Until Wednesday, that is.
With the Bavarians leading BATE in their Champions League Group F finale, Boateng dived into a foolish challenge that was awarded with a red card. While he will be available in Bayern's upcoming Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal matches, he faces a three-match suspension that will see him miss out on the Champions League Round of 16 and the first half of the quarterfinals, should the German giants progress.
Make no mistake: This is serious trouble for Bayern.
While it's true that Daniel Van Buyten experienced a renaissance of form when called upon last season, the Belgian's weak knees have limited his availability, even as a substitute, in 2012-13. He will be 35 by the time the knockout rounds begin, and whether he will be up to the task of playing at the highest level is in serious doubt.
Luiz Gustavo, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and Javi Martinez have all played in defense in the past, but none have the class to take on a team like Real Madrid, whom Bayern could face in February. Gustavo and Tymoshchuk have not been used in such a role since the managing days of Louis van Gaal, and Bayern's defense was a joke when they were. Martinez would seem a more credible option, but Atletico Madrid's Radamel Falcao ruthlessly exposed him as a midfielder—not a defender—in the 2012 Europa League final.
Bayern may well need a new face for their back four.
To Bayern's good fortune, the January transfer window opens and closes between now and the Round of 16, and they can find a short-term solution in the meantime.
Read on for a rundown of the possible options.
It has been over a year since Arne Friedrich disappeared into the vortex that was Felix Magath's Wolfsburg squad. He was released from his contract in September of 2011 and was expected to be done with European football when he signed with the Chicago Fire in March.
If Bayern come knocking, however, Friedrich could answer the call.
He never played in the Champions League, although his experience for Germany—82 caps, including some huge performances in major tournaments—is more than enough proof of his class.
Depending on when the 2013 MLS season begins and how Bayern are scheduled in the Round of 16, Friedrich may be able to play in both legs of the Champions League stage without missing a game for the Fire.
Currently in the twilight of his career and back in his homeland of Brazil since earlier this year, Juan will be 34 before the Champions League knockout rounds begin in February.
But it was only a few months ago that Juan was last playing regularly in Europe, and he is familiar with life in Germany, having spent five seasons at Leverkusen.
With 79 caps for Brazil, Juan is experienced and could be an inspired signing. He never won the Champions League, so joining Bayern could be the perfect swan song for his career.
A victim of PSG's wild transfer spending, Diego Lugano has not made a single competitive appearance for the French side this season. At 32, he is not exactly young, but he certainly has yet to pass his expiration date.
The Uruguay international—with 72 caps to his name—has never played for a great club team, but he did captain his nation in their improbable run to the FIFA World Cup semifinal in 2010.
And, unlike many of the other options Bayern can consider, he is not cup-tied.
Although he lacks Champions League experience, Mathijsen has 84 caps for the Netherlands and has played in some huge matches for his country.
At 32, he is not young. Nonetheless, he still has the legs to be reliable in defense. Mathijsen speaks German and is familiar with the Bundesliga, having played in Hamburg from 2006 to 2011.
And because Feyenoord failed to qualify for the Europa League, he may be available should Bayern make an attractive offer.
The Case for Inaction
This article mentioned no world-beaters for good reason—superstars are either cup-tied or not allowed to transfer midseason. And if they do move, they are often horrifically overpriced.
If Bayern were to make a move for a new center-back, they would need to sign one with experience who would leave shortly after the season's end or wouldn't mind taking a seat behind Badstuber and either Dante or Boateng.
Lucio and Ricardo Carvalho might have been perfect options, but both are cup-tied.
And so, the list of candidates is sparse and far from impressive.
Can Bayern negotiate three Champions League knockout games with Dante and a few holding midfielders? Yes, of course.
Real Madrid reached the semifinals last year while playing a Europa League schedule. With all due respect, however, CSKA Moscow and APOEL were not typical knockout round opponents.
If Bayern are drawn with Milan, Celtic or Galatasaray, they may be willing to stick with their current options and hope they avoid a tough quarterfinal draw, should they advance.
If they are to face Real Madrid, however, Van Buyten isn't enough. A lot is riding on the draw. For the Munich side, the 15 days until then will be very nervy.