5 Bold Predictions for Bayern Munich in 2016
After a 2015 that had its ups and downs, Bayern Munich enter a 2016 that is sure to have some turbulence while also having the potential to be one of their best years ever.
The German giants had many injuries to deal with in the spring and ended the 2014-15 campaign with only the Bundesliga trophy to show for their performances. However, after a successful summer transfer window and outstanding first half of the current season, they look to have everything in order as they aim for a treble.
Regardless, Carlo Ancelotti will replace Pep Guardiola at season's end, a move that could cause some bumps in the road at least in the short term. But it also is reason to be excited for what the new trainer will bring, the players he'll sign, how individuals and the team will benefit and more.
B/R has run the rule over the possibilities Bayern face in 2016 and picked out five bold predictions for the club during the calendar year. Click "Begin Slideshow" to see what they are.
They'll Win the Treble
After having such a brilliant first half of the season, why not? Bayern are absolutely cruising in the Bundesliga and can focus on their cup games. In the DFB-Pokal, they're clear favorites given their utter dominance against all domestic opposition, particularly those that remain in the competition. Against the top-flight teams they've faced still in the Pokal, Bayern have won all five of their games this season. The aggregate scoreline? 15-1.
Although the Pokal can be tricky given it's a one-off and any game could be played away from home, the Champions League is the bigger question mark. Bayern under Guardiola have had their ups and downs in Europe's elite club tournament, especially in the knockout rounds. The trainer has yet to lead his side to an away victory after the group stage, and Bayern have been handily eliminated in the semifinals in each of his two years at the helm.
At the same time, Bayern have also racked up outstanding home victories and are playing better and more balanced football now than they were in the previous two seasons. There aren't many teams remaining that are truly capable of winning the Champions League, and Bayern are one. The odds are against them, but a treble is entirely possible.
They Won't Lead the Bundesliga at the Midseason Break
Bayern will handily win the Bundesliga this spring, and they will be heavy favorites to win the title the following spring. They are two statements that may as well already be written into the history books. But will they actually lead the league at the end of the 2016 calendar year? There is a case to be made that they won't.
When a new trainer takes over at a club, it often takes time for him to acclimatize and for the players to adjust to his style of play. Carlo Ancelotti is a pragmatic coach, not so much of a visionary, so the players generally shouldn't find it too difficult to adjust to him. Yet there could be a difficult spell early in the season, especially given that Euro 2016 will limit the amount of preseason training many Bayern stars will have.
There also is the fact Ancelotti's record of winning league titles isn't exactly stellar. True, he's won the Premier League, Serie A and Ligue 1 but each only once, and those triumphs occurred over the course of a managerial career that began in 1995. It's not his forte, and that could cause problems.
Despite being a distant second, Borussia Dortmund have been excellent this season and are on course for a total points haul (76) that would have won the Bundesliga in almost any season in its history. If they (or any of Germany's rising powers) have a hot streak in the fall, it could mean Bayern will have to settle for something less than first in midseason.
They'll Be Quiet in the Winter Transfer Market but Very Active in the Summer
Right now, Guardiola more or less has the squad he needs at Bayern. Those key players who are injured should be fit either by the beginning of the second half of the campaign or not long thereafter. The only area where Bayern look to truly be in need of reinforcement is central defense, and with slim pickings and an inflated market for players in those positions, it's not too likely the German giants will make a high-profile signing in this position.
Come the summer, Ancelotti will inherit a world-class squad with outstanding starters and a depth rivaled by few. Yet it's entirely foreseeable that Bayern will make quite a splash in the summer market for a number of reasons.
Firstly, there are players who will need replacing. Douglas Costa has replaced Franck Ribery in function, but the club cannot afford to pay the Frenchman's astronomical, €160,000-a-week wages if he only rarely plays. If he leaves, there will be room for a big-name star's salary on the payroll. Or two such stars if Mario Gotze is sold.
After announcing a record €23.8 million profit after tax in their most recent annual financial report, relayed by the Associated Press (via ESPN FC), Bayern will have plenty of cash to finance a big transfer. And what better a way to move on from the Guardiola era and usher in Ancelotti than with a massive signing or two?
With Philipp Lahm and Arjen Robben both 32 years of age by the time the next season begins, and Xabi Alonso 34, there are some considerations that need to be taken with regard to the squad. It could be a very busy summer indeed.
Douglas Costa Will Be a Ballon d'Or Finalist
This prediction depends almost solely on the first (winning a treble) being fulfilled. If Bayern are unable to win the Champions League, Douglas Costa has no chance of being named as a Ballon d'Or finalist.
If Bayern do win the Champions League, however, and if Costa performs on the biggest stage as he did earlier in the campaign, he'll have earned his status among the world's top three players. As it stands, there is room for Costa to be recognized at the pinnacle of football: Cristiano Ronaldo isn't quite at his previous heights, and his Real Madrid and Portugal may struggle to win anything in 2016.
Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez are all potential candidates but could share their vote. And if Bayern pip Barcelona to the Champions League trophy and Costa proves to be the star man at the Copa America, he'll have a strong case for the Ballon d'Or.
Costa recently underlined his ambitions in an interview with Globo Esporte (h/t Goal), stating: "The best in the world is [Lionel] Messi, but I think I could become one of the three or five best players." His drive has taken him to new heights in 2015. In 2016, maybe he'll spring to the very top.
Kingsley Coman Will Be a Starter by the End of December
Kingsley Coman proved to be the pleasant surprise of the summer transfer window, the youngster experiencing a remarkable first semester at Bayern. Those who had followed him in years prior were well aware of his talent, but for a 19-year-old to so confidently step into the first team as Coman did is truly extraordinary.
Looking forward, the sky is the limit for the Frenchman, and anything is possible in the long term. Even in 2016, it's foreseeable that he might earn a starting role in the Bayern lineup. By the end of December, Arjen Robben will be weeks away from his 33rd birthday, an age when few wingers are still at their best. The Dutchman's explosive turn of pace will start to subside sooner or later, and he already is rather injury prone.
Robben might have a couple of great seasons left in him, but the odds are against him. That means opportunity for Coman. Following his brilliant first half-season, it would be unwise to bet against Coman.