FC Bayern Munich: A data-driven approach to rebuild the ‘Rekordmeister’
“Mia san Mia und Mia san Wer” (We are who we are), which has been FC Bayern Munich and Bavarian’s motto since the beginning of time. Currently the team led by Head Coach Niko Kovac struggled during the first half of the season and was ranked as 2nd in the German Bundesliga at the end of December 2018. Despite some disappointing results in the league against Hertha BSC (2-0) and Borussia Mönchengladbach (0-3 lost), “Die Bayern” qualified for the 16th Round in the UEFA Champions League. At this stage the team was eliminated by the Jürgen Klopp’s “Gegenpressing-machine” Liverpool. In the second half of the season, the team fought back and closed the gap with Borussia Dortmund. In a direct confrontation between Bayern and their all-time rival “BVB”, Bayern humiliated Lucien Favre’s Dortmund with a 5-0 victory. Later on, the team became the Bundesliga Champions and in the DFB-Pokal Final, the team overwhelmed RB Leipzig with a 0-3 win. It was a much-needed boost for Bayern due to the struggle in the first half of the season.
I. Quick view “Schnellansicht” of Die Bayern
German Bundestrainer Joachim Löw took decisive steps to rebuild a younger team after a disappointing Russian World Cup and therefore informed Bayern Munich’s veteran trio Mats Hummels (30 years old), Jerome Boateng (30) and Thomas Müller (29) that they will no longer receive call-ups for the National Team. Bayern Munich will look to rebuild a younger squad and therefore will have a tough summer transfer window. Both wingers Franck Ribéry (36 years old) and Arjen Robben (33) will leave the club as well the Brazilian right back Rafinha (33). At the beginning of June 2019, the club released an official statement about James Rodríguez’s (27 years old) departure (link). Besides these transfers, Mats Hummels will return to his former club Borussia Dortmund. All these impending changes and their replacements will have a massive impact on “re-building Die Bayern” for the 2019/20 season as well as many more years to come.
With SciSports’ platform, supported by the three main functionalities of the platform (making shortlists, making shadow teams and analysing player roles) and three former Head Coaches quotes, we take a look at the reconstruction of Die Rekordmeister. With the help of the Player Roles, we analyse the abilities, required tasks and duties which fits Bayern Munich’s possession-dominated playing style.
Exit layers: Screenshot players 27 years or older. As already mentioned, James Rodríguez, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribéry, Rafinha and Mats Hummels are leaving Bayern Münich in the upcoming Transferwindow.
Incoming transfers: Screenshot of the incoming transfers so far
II. Bayern’s Transfer Tough Summer 2019
For this coming Summer, the club will face a tough challenge because of (1) the departures of well-experienced players, (2) strengthening the team’s vacant winger and centre back positions, also due to the signal of German’s National Team Head Coach Joachim Löw and (3) the goal to win the UEFA Champions League in the upcoming season.
Shadow Team 2019-2020 and Bayern Munich II
First of all, we take a look at Bayern’s Shadow Team for the upcoming season. Furthermore, we could also identify the influence that the SciSkill has for the vacant positions. With Lucas Hernandez (SciSkill of 107.8 and SciSkill Potential of 128.8) and Benjamin Pavard (SciSkill of 87.8, SciSkill Potential of 104.0) the team has attracted some (Top-level) European players who will (directly) strengthen the current team. Besides this, Bayern also attracted the talented young-German striker Jann-Fiete Arp, a long-term transfer for the club. Arp could further develop himself into the likes of well-experienced players such as Robert Lewandowski (30 years old) and Thomas Müller (29 years old).
When we take a look at Bayern Munich’s second team (which is playing in the Regionalliga and promoted to the 3rd rank at Liga), the team consists of some young and interesting players who will (maybe) join the first team during the preparation of the upcoming season. On a short term basis, these players will probably not play a (important) role in Bayern’s first eleven. Nevertheless, it’s important to keep an eye on some of these players, e.g. Dutch-striker Joshua Zirkzee (SciSkill Potential of 84.5, SciSkill Development of +15.8 over the last 6 months), wingers Meritan Shabani (who also played as an attacking midfielder) and Woo-Yeong Jeong (SciSkill Potential of 90.5) but also Left Back Derrick Köhn (SciSkill Potential of 95.0).
Bayern II: With the use of the Shadow Team functionality in SciSports’ platform, take a look at Bayern Munich’s second team.
Based on their current SciSkill
Based on their current SciSkill Potential
Which roles do the leaving Bayern-players have?
To understand what the current roles are of the players who are confirmed to leave the club in the Summer of 2019, we take an in-depth look at the SciSports’ Player Roles functionality within SciSports’ platform. With the support of Player Roles, we can identify certain player characteristics based on player performance statistics. Also, it gives us input into which “similar” player we will “search” for. In this case, we excluded the last Bayern-transfer: the return of Mats Hummels to Borussia Dortmund.
1. Arjen Robben
At the end of August 2009, Robben moved from Real Madrid to FC Bayern Munich. The Dutch winger characterized himself as a left-footed right winger who cuts inside during the 1-vs-1 duels with his direct opponent and creates space around the box to create a shooting opportunity for either himself or his teammates. The unexpected and change of direction during his dribbles makes him a special winger who is identified as an ‘Inside Forward’. These wingers have the tendency to cut inside, set-up a dribble or a link-up play combination and are also recognized by their good acceleration skills.
2. Franck Ribery
Together with his teammate and partner in the opposition flank (Robben), Ribéry was part of the impressive attacking duo which whom were nicknamed “Robbery”. According to his last season stats, Ribéry played in a more ‘Classic Winger’ role but could also be identified as a ‘Inside Forward’ and ‘Wide Playmaker’. The ‘Classic Winger-role’ described some of Ribery’s key qualities: excellent dribbling skills with a good acceleration and utilizing the (free) space.
The 33-year old Brazilian played during last season in both wingback positions. Based on the Player Roles, Rafinha could be identified as a ‘Wing Back’ who prefers to support the midfield in the attacking phase by the use of overlapping runs. Next to this, he also supplies the attackers with crosses from outside the box.
4. James Rodríguez
During the 2017 Summer, Bayern acquired James on a loan-deal from Real Madrid. During his first season, James was part of the line-up in 19 out of 34 Bundesliga matches. The Colombian midfielder scored 8 goals (including the 12 UEFA Champions League matches) and assisted 11 goals in all competitions. During last season, James struggled with some injury problems but still played around 30 matches in total. According to his performance statistics, James has one main Player Role: The Advanced Playmaker. In this role, James also impressed the world when playing for Colombia’s National Team. The midfielder excels in his game intelligence.
Later on we will work out the (younger) replacements in both winger positions as well the back-position. Due to the current options in the midfielder positions, we have excluded the search for a replacement for James Rodríguez.
III. Style of Playing
Louis van Gaal: “The Bavarian attitude to life suits me perfectly. Why? Bayerns motto is Mia san mia, We are who we are and I am who I am: confident, arrogant, dominant, honest, hard-working and innovative.”
One of the many famous Louis van Gaal quotes is also a footprint of Bayern’s playing style over the previous years. The team strived to dominate the opponent by a mainly high (and effective) pressing and possession strategy.
Based on last season’s general team statistics, Bayern dominated in terms of ball possession percentage (66%, the highest out of all the Bundesliga teams), number of creating shooting opportunities per 90 minutes (1st), number of key passes per 90 minutes (1st) and conceded the lowest number of shots per 90 minutes (6,7 per 90 minutes, RB Leipzig conceded 8,6 shots per 90 minutes and Borussia Dortmund around 9 per 90 minutes). Also, based on the Passes allowed per Defensive Action (PPDA), Kovac’s pressing in- and out of possession showcases the dominating style that Bayern has when the team doesn’t have the ball.
During the 2017/18 season, Kovac impressed Eintracht, Frankfurt with an attractive and smart style of playing. Furthermore, the team distinguished themselves based on some team statistics during that specific Bundesliga season. Eintracht was the team, alongside Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, that allowed the lowest number of passes before the team took defensive action (PPDA). Furthermore, the team was part of the ten Bundesliga teams with the highest shot efficiency (based on the percentage of shots on target) despite the fact the team took less shots than the league average and were ranked as 7th in terms of touches in the penalty box.
IV. “Wiederaufbau das Team” | Re-building the squad
To finalize the process we will identify some interesting replacements and potential players who could fit in the Bayern Munich team. In this case, we used Player Roles to find players with similar roles and duties for the players who will leave the club. Let’s start with a look at the winger position.
A. Strengthen the team in the winger positions
To fill the gap which will be left by Robben and Ribéry, Bayern already have three options in their current team: Kingsley Coman, Serge Gnabry (both mainly played in the winger positions) and 18-year old Alphonso Davies. In this case, we will take a look at the young talented wingers who have already got some experience in the well-known European league.
For Robben, we used the ‘Similarity’ function in SciSports’ platform. This resulted in an overview of players who had played in an Inside Forward-role. To get players who are already at a certain level, we set the current SciSkill level to 75 and SciSkill Potential of at least 90. In this case, eight players popped-up with the condition that the first four players have a similarity score of 65% or higher. Moreover, all results have one common attribute: it all consists left-footed players who prefers to play on the right winger position until the age of 25 years old. In the picture below, the four options with the best fist are shown.
Step 1: First and most-efficient step of using the Player Roles feature: use the ‘Similar’ search button.
Step 2: Results of setting certain filters: young replacements who played in a similar role as Robben during last season.
On the other flank, we are searching for a player who could play in several roles like Ribéry does and which is known as a ‘Classic Winger’. In this search we will leave out the preferred foot filter, but search for players who can play in the certain roles like Ribéry can.
The search results in the names which are shown below. It consists of a mix between wingers who already have experience in a “Big Five league” or more young and rising players. In total 30 players fit these criterias. It’s worth mentioning, that Kingsley Coman also fits this criteria and is one of the players that pops-up as a potential replacement. Coman could be seen as the ideal candidate to replace Ribéry in the Bayern-team.
What about searching for more-experienced players?
If “Die Bayern” is searching for a more experienced-player, we can adjust the filters to be set to a player who is 25 years old. Despite the age filter, we are searching for players who are already at a Bundesliga level. So in this case, the current SciSkill filter is set to 80 with only the right- or left winger positions marked and players who played in a similar role like Arjen Robben. This results in the following five options ranked in ‘similarity’:
In this search, we show you that with a few more clicks “more-experienced” replacement options for Robben can be identified. For instance Suso (AC Milan), Yannick Carrasco (Daliang, were also part of the Belgium National Team during the 2018 World Cup) and Dusan Tadic, who has already played in the Premier League and had a massive performance in the UEFA Champions League last year.
B. Wingback position
“Lahm is a scandal. He is super-intelligent, understands the game brilliantly, knows when to come inside or to stay wide. The guy is exceptional” Pep Guardiola.
Lahm was Bayern’s captain for a while and was an impressive player who could play at the back (right- or left back) position as well in the defensive midfielder position. With Rafinha, signed by the club in the Summer of 2011, Bayern got a stand-in for Lahm. Despite the fact Bayern has already signed French World Champion Benjamin Pávard, it will strengthen the team to attract a younger and multifunctional back with the likes and position of Rafinha. In SciSports’ platform, we used the ‘similar’ function as well as set some smart filters to detect an upcoming talent who already has a certain SciSkill level. In addition, will look at players until the age of 25 years old who could potentially fill in the gap.
With the support of the Player Roles and the addition of some smart filters, we now have identified some options which should be analysed in-depth on video and by live scouting.
C. Young upcoming talented-players
“German football is like English football. The Germans and the English do not play like a Brazilian side. They have to improve, bring up their young players, who have character” Franz Beckenbauer.
Based on one of the famous Beckenbauer quotes, we will also add a list of highly recommended talented players who could, based on their SciSkill Potential score, reach the top level of European football.
After the initial set up of several search criteria’s (e.g. players for the right back position and winger position) we set the age filter to the maximum age of 23 years old. In this search we will take a look at players which made an impressive SciSkill development over the last six months. In this case, players like Diego Rossi and Martin Ödegaard, who is linked to Bayer Leverkusen, will pop-up. With a few clicks, we could detect and evaluate these players based on their Player Role. This makes it helpful to support us in the player search for players who had a impact on their team performances during the last past six months.
Finally, we should note the impact the players on the shortlist will have on Bayern’s current squad. With the support of the Shadow team feature in SciSports’ platform, you are able to discover the impact these new players could have in terms of SciSkill and SciSkill Potential to the current team. First of all, a short recap of all the filters will be described below.
Replacement “Robben”: similar role, SciSkill 70.0, SciSkill Potential 90.0, Left-footed playing on the right wing position, maximum age of 25 years old.
Replacement “Ribéry”: similar role, SciSkill 70.0, SciSkill Potential 90.0.
Replacement “Robben”: similar role, aged 25 years or older, SciSkill 80.0, both winger positions.
Replacement “Rafinha”: similar role, maximum age set to 25 years old, right or left back, SciSkill level of 80.0 and SciSkill Potential of 90.0.
Upcoming talented-players to watch with a maximum age of 21 years old.
By saving the players, which are founded with the support of the Player Roles functionality in SciSports’ platform, we could directly “drag-and-drop” the players into the team and instantly see how their SciSkill scores are compared to the “Top of the German Bundesliga”.
For instance, from the shortlist both wingers David Neres and Leon Bailey as well right back Timothy Castagne are dropped into the Bayern Munich team. In one view, it will be clear what the direct influence had of the team SciSkill for the selected positions compared to averages of other major teams in the Bundesliga.
View on the Shadow Team functionality: The wizard will help you set up your own specific criteria to “build” your own Shadow Team.
Bayern Munich 2019/20: A view of the Bayern’s team for the upcoming season if we include the possible signings: David Neres (Ajax), Leon Bailey (Bayer Leverkusen) and Timothy Castagne (Atalanta Bergamo)
In this case, we did a player search for Bayern Munich with the help of several functions within SciSports’ platform. With the help of SciSports’ Player Roles, for each club it is possible to search and find interesting potentials based on a reference player. Furthermore, with the use of a Shadow Team you will get an insight into what influences a player in the team could have based on his current SciSkill or SciSkill Potential score. This shown how to search and screen players in the first phase of the recruitment process. The addition of data insights to a club’s scouting, which consists of many football experts, makes it even more efficient and powerful. Combining the several scouting resources like data-, video- and a live scouting, is the key to organize your scouting department as a success.
With the support of several functionalities within SciSports’ platform we showed you how to search for potential replacements in an effective and efficient way. This fictive use case has also shown you how to search and screen players in the 1st phase of the recruitment process. The addition of data insights to a club’s scouting set-up, which is full of football experts, makes it even more powerful. Combining several resources like data-, video- and live scouting is the key to success.