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Bayern’s ‘thin’ squad faces CL test as injuries bite


By AFP
Published : 02 Oct 2023 08:17 PM | Updated : 02 Oct 2023 08:17 PM

Injury-hit Bayern Munich travel to Copenhagen on Tuesday in the Champions League, facing a depth problem which is effectively of their own making.

Injuries kept first-teamers Serge Gnabry and Matthijs de Ligt out of Bayern's 2-2 draw at RB Leipzig. Gnabry will miss weeks with a broken arm while De Ligt also looks set to miss Tuesday's match.

Combine the duo's absence with injury clouds hovering above remaining centre-backs Dayot Upamecano and Kim Min-jae and the Bayern hierarchy may begin to understand manager Thomas Tuchel's persistent complaints about a lack of depth in his squad.

Bayern remain undefeated in the league, German Cup and Champions League this season, but have made a habit of conceding goals against better sides. The German champions have conceded three in meetings with RB Leipzig and Manchester United so far this season, along with two against league leaders Bayer Leverkusen and again against Leipzig.

While Bayern make Tuesday's trip to Copenhagen as strong favourites, it is the kind of midweek fixture that will test their depth as they hope to fight for all trophies on offer this season. Despite a transfer window which brought England captain Harry Kane, Serie A defender of the year Kim and Konrad Laimer to Munich, Bayern allowed several players to leave in the summer.

The list of departures included France defenders Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez, midfielders Ryan Gravenberch and Marcel Sabitzer and right-back Josip Stanisic.

After the window shut in early September, Tuchel described his squad as "a bit thin, a bit small" saying it was "thinner than before (the window closed)".

A frustrated Tuchel told Germany's Sky network "it's a courageous squad composition. We'll see if it's enough for the club's goals this season."

Complaining about a lack of depth is hardly unusual for managers and in particular for Bayern managers.

Bayern's depth concerns were best illustrated on Sunday, when former centre-back Jerome Boateng was seen training with the side ahead of a possible return.

Boateng won the 2013 and 2020 Champions League titles with Bayern but was deemed surplus to requirements in the summer of 2021 and allowed to leave for free.

Bayern announced Boateng's return to training on their website, with German media indicating the club wanted to see if the 2014 World Cup winner would be able to return to the squad.