Why Bundesliga-Conquering Bayern Don't Have or Need a Stand-Out Goalscorer

Stefan BienkowskiFeatured ColumnistMarch 1, 2014

Bayern's Arjen Robben of the Netherlands, left, and Thiago Alcantara of Spain celebrate during the German first division Bundesliga soccer match between FC Bayern Munich and FC Schalke in Munich, Germany, on Saturday, March 1. 2014. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)
Kerstin Joensson/Associated Press

Bayern Munich continued their march to Bundesliga dominance this weekend with a barrel full of goals against none other than fourth-placed Schalke. 

Yet what makes this team so interesting is that—despite the impressive amount of goals they score in the league, just under three per game on average—they don't actually have a leading goalscorer like other big teams across Europe.

As we saw today against lowly Schalke, this is because Bayern's system of essentially playing three forwards at any given time means the wide men have just as much of a chance to score in any given game as the lone striker. 

Although Mario Mandzukic scored, it was Arjen Robben, who was playing on the right of the front three, who ended up bagging the hat-trick and ensuring all three points for his side on the day. It's this style of play that has worked so well for Bayern and ensured such unparalleled success in Germany and throughout Europe. 

This is, of course, because it makes perfect sense. When any given side comes up against a stronger opponent, the natural inclination for tackling the task is to single out their best player and to then work through a strategy to neutralise them. Keep the key player quiet, and you're halfway to victory. 

Kerstin Joensson/Associated Press

It's a tactic that has often been sprung on any of the best sides throughout football's modern history, with the more recent case of Barcelona and their wonder kid, Lionel Messi, offering the best example of the problems with over-relying on one player. 

That's not to say that Barca have ever been no more than a one-man team, but we have seen cases where the Argentinian's superhuman ability to score goals in Spain and the Champions League have resulted in his side depending on that constant stream of goals from the one source. Despite Messi's brilliance, it remains a weakness for his team. 

It comes down to essentially hedging one's bets with the reliance that if one player within this Bayern squad fails to turn a game in their favour, there are always two or three others who can always take his place. 

The team that stormed to the Champions League final last May and eventually won it were made up of a number of world-class forwards, yet the particular emphasis on Franck Ribery's brilliance was something that the side couldn't overcome. He was their playmaker and star player. 

Yet this season has seen the welcomed introduction of Guardiola's new team and with it, a notable shift from the concept of simply passing to Ribery and waiting for him to turn a pass in to a goal.

This was made obvious with the acquisition of Mario Gotze from Borussia Dortmund. Bayern had signed wide players in the past, such as Xherdan Shaqiri, but the young German international arrived in Munich with a clear message: Bayern would no longer need to rely on just one world-class winger any more. 

Alas, we've seen the results of such tactical tinkering in this new-look Bayern team that seems to flow effortlessly between the midfield trio and three forwards in front of them. For even though the Frenchman still holds his spot as a Bavarian star, the rest of the squad now chip in with much more to offer. 

This much is evident in the goalscoring charts for the Bundesliga. If we were to look at the list today, via Whoscored.com, it shows Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski top with 15 goals and then Adrian Ramos from Hertha Berlin with 14. Then comes Mandzukic, who sits tied with Ramos on 14 goals, but what differs between him and the other two strikers is the percentage of his goals that make up Bayern's total. 

Dortmund's Polish star currently sits with 28 percent of his club's total goals in the Bundesliga this season, almost one-third, while Ramos has scored an incredible 41 percent of the Berlin side's. Yet our Croatian striker's total only comes in at 21 percent of Bayern's tally for the season.

A one-fifth slice that shows how less dependent Bayern are on their star forward than rivals Dortmund and others throughout the league are on their own. 

This is, of course, because Bayern have the strength in depth to allow the pressure of goalscoring to be evenly distributed throughout the side. It's why Thomas Mueller has 10 league goals, Robben has 10 league goals, Ribery has seven and Gotze has six. On their own, they offer very little as a sole means of scoring, but together they form a team that can not only win championships but can also prove impossible to stop all at once. 

This is the true genius behind Guardiola's Bayern and exactly why they look destined to retain their historic treble from last season. Most top sides are a team designed to get the best out of an individual, while this Bavarian side look more like a group of individuals designed to play like a team. 


All stats were taken from transfermarkt.co.uk if not already stated.