4 Bayern Munich Players Who Are Fighting for Their Futures in Rest of Season
The business end of the 2015-16 season is upon us, and for Bayern Munich, it seems that Pep Guardiola has his mind made up about the players he can depend on.
His starters in the big games have been relatively consistent, and there have been some big names left on the bench with surprising regularity.
As such, Bayern's management will have some big decisions to make this summer, as those who haven't played will look for either assurances that they will feature more under incoming head coach Carlo Ancelotti, or transfers to clubs that will give them more opportunities.
B/R has scanned the Bayern squad for the players who will be fighting to save their careers at the Allianz Arena in the coming weeks and found four names that stand out.
Click "Begin Slideshow" to see our picks.
Mario Gotze was benched even when Pep Guardiola looked to rotate his fatigued starting lineup for Bayern's recent match against FC Cologne.
The playmaker's exclusion tells the story of his third season in Munich; since returning from a long injury absence in February, he's made just one 54-minute appearance.
Bild (in German) recently wrote that he'd been "humiliated" by Guardiola, and even though he said in January that he'd decide his future at Bayern after speaking with incoming coach Carlo Ancelotti, per SportBild (h/t Goal), he may leave regardless.
Still, if Gotze manages to win back Guardiola's trust and makes a good impression of himself in April and May, there's a chance he might stick around.
Ancelotti's system may suit him better, and if he has the coach's trust, he could well achieve his potential as a Bayern player.
Sebastian Rode started Bayern's most recent match against Cologne, but it was a rare appearance in the first XI for the 25-year-old.
Rode has, per Transfermarkt, played for a total of just 378 minutes in all competitions this season, and seems like he could well be headed for the exit this summer.
Rode expressed his frustration with his situation recently, telling Goal: "Pep Guardiola isn't talking a lot to me, so I don't really know where I stand or why I am not playing on a more regular basis."
If Rode doesn't play more between now and the season's end, Carlo Ancelotti may be keen to sell the former Eintracht Frankfurt man. So Rode will be fighting to save his Bayern career in the coming weeks.
To say the 2015-16 campaign has been a tough one for Medhi Benatia would be an understatement.
The Morocco international began the campaign well with a strong performance and even a goal against Hamburg SV, but he has since had his season blighted by injuries.
He's made just 14 appearances in all competitions and has apparently fallen behind young midfielder Joshua Kimmich on Pep Guardiola's pecking order of center-backs.
Benatia had a nightmare in the UEFA Champions League against Juventus, with German magazine Kicker giving him the worst possible player rating (six). And last week, Bild (in German) reported that the 28-year-old might never again play for the Bavarian giants, with a summer sale likely.
It's possible that Benatia's time playing at Bayern may be over and that he'll be sold, with Tuttosport (h/t Football Italia) reporting Juventus are keen to sign him. But if he fights for his spot, he might just earn a stay during the Carlo Ancelotti era.
Pierre Hojbjerg may not be at Bayern Munich right now, but he certainly is fighting for his career with the German giants.
The 20-year-old wasn't ready to be a part of the Bayern senior squad last January, so he was sent on loan to Augsburg. He was again deemed a surplus to requirements over the summer and subsequently loaned to Schalke.
Hojbjerg turns 21 this August, and by now, the question is becoming relevant: Will he ever be ready for Bayern Munich? Given that he's rarely started for a fit Schalke side, that is a serious doubt.
He's played more recently, due to an injury to Leon Goretzka, and will look to make a strong impression in the remaining weeks of the campaign. If unable to do so, Hojbjerg could well be sold.