Ranking the 5 Bayern Munich Players with the Biggest Point to Prove This Season

Clark WhitneyFeatured ColumnistJuly 23, 2014

Ranking the 5 Bayern Munich Players with the Biggest Point to Prove This Season

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    Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

    A new club football season is approaching, and with it, new hopes for players looking to make an impression. At Bayern Munich, Pep Guardiola has a large and highly competitive squad.

    Among their ranks, the Bavarians have new signings and youngsters aiming to break into the first team. Robert Lewandowski, Juan Bernat and Sebastian Rode have moved to Munich this summer, while burgeoning talents like Pierre Hojbjerg and Julian Green are chomping at the bit.

    As well, veterans like Franck Ribery and Dante will be keen to prove they still have what it takes to deliver for their team.

    B/R took a look at the Bayern squad and narrowed down the top five players with a point to prove. Click "Begin Slideshow" to commence the countdown, starting with No. 5.

5. Franck Ribery

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    Christophe Ena/Associated Press

    Ribery is the most senior member of the Bayern attack and until recently was the cornerstone of their work in the final third. But the Frenchman's star faded during the spring, with his advanced years perhaps beginning to show.

    Ribery missed the World Cup due to an injury and struggled by his lofty standards after the winter break. In the Bundesliga, he scored three goals and assisted two more. He is now 31 years of age and has stiff competition in the form of World Cup heroes Mario Goetze, Thomas Mueller and Arjen Robben.

    Several times in his career, Ribery has returned from debilitating injuries and proven his doubters wrong. But given his age and the rise of his teammates in the 2014 calendar year, he now faces his biggest challenge yet.

4. Pierre Hojbjerg

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    Markus Schreiber/Associated Press

    Hojbjerg is the youngest player in the Bayern first team but could make a name for himself in 2014-15 if he takes his chances. The 18-year-old made his debut toward the end of the 2012-13 season but appeared just nine times in all competitions during the most recent campaign.

    Bayern believe in Hojbjerg enough to have opted not to loan him, it seems, but now the Dane will have to prove himself worthy of a bigger role than he's played in his career thus far.

    The former Brondby man is a hugely talented midfielder and turns 19 in August; perhaps we will see more of him following the sale of Toni Kroos and currently injured starter of Thiago Alcantara.

3. Robert Lewandowski

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    Gero Breloer/Associated Press

    Lewandowski is a hero at Borussia Dortmund; in four seasons at the Signal Iduna Park, he scored 103 goals, averaging over 31 after his first season. But he joins Bayern having never proven himself elsewhere as a professional.

    Lewandowski has big shoes to fill at Bayern; he'll replace club hero Mario Mandzukic, who recently left for Atletico Madrid. He will also be playing for Guardiola, who is famous for having moved David Villa into a position on the wing at Barcelona and for freezing Mandzukic out of the Bayern lineup in favor of using a strikerless system.

    The 25-year-old Lewandowski needs only to look at former BVB teammate Goetze for a warning of what could come: The Germany international struggled during his first season at Bayern and spent long periods on the bench. Lewandowski is a world-class player, but he'll have everything to prove as he begins his career at Bayern.

2. Thiago Alcantara

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    Paul White/Associated Press

    Thiago Alcantara's second season at Bayern will begin rather similarly to his first, with the midfielder sidelined as he rehabilitates an injury. The former Barcelona man missed nearly three full months at the start of the 2013-14 campaign with an ankle injury. Toward the end of the season, he tore a knee ligament that has taken an unexpectedly long time to heal.

    When he makes his return, the pressure will be on Thiago to deliver. With Bayern having offered Kroos a comparatively modest €7 million salary, as per German paper Bild, that ultimately led to the player joining Real Madrid, it was clear that Guardiola favored his Spanish compatriot ahead of the World Cup winner.

    Thiago will have to prove he's worth his €8 million salary, as per German outlet Sport Bild, and that his trainer chose the right man. It won't be easy, especially coming back from a serious injury, but any player who is valued ahead of Kroos can only be hugely talented.

1. Mario Goetze

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    Victor R. Caivano/Associated Press

    Bayern signed Goetze last summer with the intent for him to be their "golden boy," the crown jewel of their attack. He was given a €12 million per year contract, according to Sport Bild, making him the club's top earner alongside Ribery. The €37 million man did not live up to expectations in his first season, however, and only played the full 90 minutes on 13 occasions.

    The 2013-14 season marked a steep fall from grace for Goetze, who was always relied upon during his Dortmund days. His stock even took a hit, with Transfermarkt decreasing his value two weeks ago from €55 million to €48 million.

    Following a disappointing club season, it was a surprise to many that Goetze started for Germany in the group stage of the World Cup. He was soon benched. Then, he came on as a late substitute in the final and decided the match with a stunning goal. The 22-year-old may one day look back at that moment as a turning point in his career, but for now, he has to pick up where he left off at Estadio Maracana.