Philipp Lahm's recent criticism of Bayern and their ever-changing formations brought this question into my mind. Prior to the arrival of Louis Van Gaal, Bayern mostly played with a 4-4-2 formation and sometimes with a 4-5-1 formation since 2007.
Louis Van Gaal loves this formation, so does Arjen Robben and all Bayern supporters. This formation has the word "attack" written all over it.
Van Gaal has used this formation plenty of times, but he has made changes to his first team trying to get the best out of his players in an attacking role.
The defence in this formation always consists of Philipp Lahm, Daniel van Buyten and surprisingly, youngster Holger Badstuber. The right-wing berth is filled by either Daniel Pranjic, or Edson Braafheid.
The midfield always consists of Bastian Schweinsteiger playing, mostly on the right wing of midfield. Van Gaal has constantly played about with the other three positions, mostly due to an injury to Mark van Bommel.
When Van Bommel is around, he holds the midfield. Anatoliy Tymoshcuk, Andreas Ottl, Ivica Olic, Thomas Muller and Hamit Altintop have all played in the midfield in a 4-3-3.
The front three have been rotated especially due to injuries. Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery are usually preferred on the wide areas while, when they are injured, Thomas Muller and Ivica Olic are preferred.
Miroslav Klose, Mario Gomez or Olic play the central role.Olic and Muller however can play well on the wide areas upfront and are viable options.
Advantages : The formation makes sure that every end of the field is covered with an almost equal distribution of players at every position (i.e., defence, midfield or up front).
It allows Philipp Lahm to spend more time in defence. Despite Philipp Lahm being an excellent attacker, the Bayern defence need all the help that they can get!
The team can also score more goals due to the presence of more attacking players and create more chances due to more creative players and less out-and-out target men.
Also, Braafheid can be more useful in this formation due to his lack of interest in attacking.
Disadvantages : The formation works at its best when Robben and Ribery are both playing and both are injury prone players.
Also, not many Bayern players have played in 4-3-3 before and it is hard for the older players to adjust to this formation. There is room for only one striker in this formation whereas Bayern has an abundance of strikers.
This one is my favourite formations for Bayern. Upfront, Van Gaal likes to play a big target man with a smaller one, and I am definitely in favour of that.
Van Bommel holds midfield in a 4-4-2. Tymoschuk/Altintop is used alongside him as a holding midfielder or pushed to the wide slightly in front of him. Pranjic and Martin Demichelis Schweinsteiger and Muller usually occupy the two wide positions.
Up front, Klose and Toni usually start. Gomez's life at FCB already seems to be falling apart.
However, Klose has been quarantined due to his sons catching a bout of swine flu and might be out for a while. Gomez, then, could get more chances. Ivica Olic is currently injured.
Advantages : This formation allows Bayern to use more players. The players are more used to this formation and Robben is not needed to make it tick, (though Ribery is). The team have done well before with this formation.
Disadvantages : A 4-4-2 cuts down the team's ability to attack, especially if the strikers are on a goal drought. It also leaves the defence a little short on cover as Philipp Lahm has to come forward more and so does Daniel Pranjic. Edson Braafheid doesn't have an attacking gene in his body and so, is not counted.
I have not taken into account the friendlies and the first round cup tie against Neckarelz.
In a 4-4-2, Bayern have scored 10 times and conceded six in the league, Europe, and in the cup.
In a 4-3-3, Bayern have scored 13 times and conceded twice.
Using both formations, they have played two 0-0 draws.
Discounting the match against Hamburg, where Bayern played the opening moments in a 3-5-2, the better formation seems to be a 4-3-3. However, this formation needs both Ribery and Robben, or at least one of them alongside Muller to function.
Thus, the best way for Bayern to get out of their current slump is to utilise the 4-4-2 in the best way they can possibly so it.
It's also about time the players start letting go of their egos. They are virtually out of the Champions League. I am quite sure that they don't want to get knocked out of the Bundesliga title race so soon as well.
The image that I have given is to remind all Bayern fans that over-reliance on one player can have bad consequences...
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