Bayern are so talented and complete that each position is top and they don’t have a glaring weakness in their XI. However, any small flaw should give us a glimmer of hope. Despite their super reliable centre-back duo, we could take advantage of it. While Koulibaly and Manolas are stronger and more physically imposing, Alaba and Boateng are more technical, perhaps more agile. Is this better or worse? Different, meaning we must identify where they excel and where they suffer.
Alaba had already been used as a centre-back during Pep’s days, but in November he switched back to that position. The 28-year-old has elevated Bayern’s game with his leadership, positioning, athleticism, spatial awareness, ability to recycle possession and some build-up and passing stats that are off charts for centre-backs. Over 90% passing accuracy with exquisite short, lobbed or diagonal passes.
Boateng may not be as world-class as his partner, yet he has had an unexpectedly good season too. They combine really well to progress the ball and defend with a high line. If anything, when they struggle is in having to turn around rapidly, especially Boateng, so the quick feet of Messi or even Dembélé could be very useful. In fact, Leo’s hip break to Jérôme is still fresh in the memory 5 years later.
Many are looking forward to the duel between Leo and Alphonso Davies, but the Argentinian may come inside much more and face Alaba or even Boateng more often. A very mobile Messi, attracting the centre-backs as he carries the ball behind the creative double pivot of Bayern, and then feeding Jordi Alba or Ansu on the left or Griezmann, our right-back or Dembélé on the right, could be a key of the clash.