Sun, 23 Jan 2022

By Oliver Trust

BERLIN, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- The insatiable hunger of European football's trendsetting goal-machine Bayern Munich might currently dominate the headlines. But it's not only an unleashed attacking line makes the Bavarians ride the wave.

The foundation of the success of Julian Nagelsmann's squad is minor but efficient changes initiated by the coach regarding the defensive approach.

Quicker than expected, the 34-year-old seems to have solved 2020 treble winners' most pressing problems despite Bayern having lost defending icons such as David Alaba (Real Madrid) and Jerome Boateng (Lyon).

Under predecessor Hansi Flick, Bayern's vulnerability for the opponent's counterattacks remained an annoying issue.

29 goals in eight league games aside from eight in two Champions League encounters might tell the story drawing the most attention.

After all, the stunning number of goals have turned Bayern into Europe's best. Considering goals in the national league, the Italian side Inter Milan is the runner-up (23 in 8) in Europe's leading leagues.

Bayern is scoring 3.6 goals per game on average. If things continue, 123 goals could be the final count after this league season.

Nagelsmann is far from hunting goal records but simply demands the same amount of determination when defending the own goal.

"To develop the same greediness when defending as we do when trying to score goals is the key point," Nagelsmann commented ahead of Bayern's third group encounter against Benfica this Wednesday evening.

The coaches' measures have payed off. In five of 12 games, Bayern kept its goal clean. After 12 games in all competitions, Bayern only conceived nine goals. In only one game, the league encounter against league-newcomer Greuther Furth, Bayern allowed their opponent more than five chances.

In Lucas Hernandez and Dayot Upamecano, Nagelsmann seems to have found his ideal line in the back. On top: His full-backs, left and right, constantly move to the center above the box when needed.

Former central defender Niklas Sule is benefitting most from Nagelsmann's changes. The 26-year-old in several cases moved to the full-back position on the right.

To address the coaches' demands it helps that the German international was educated as a midfielder in his early years. Sule can join the attacking efforts aside from his physical presence and deliver valuable contributions.

This became possible after the disputed footballer caught up regarding fitness and professional behavior.

Reports speak of Sule having increased his chances to achieve an extension of his in summer 2022 expiring contract.

Despite Sule's upswing, German media speak of Bayern's interest in Chelsea defender and German international Antonio Ruediger.

No matter in which composition, defending remains one of Nagelsmann's desires. "How you defend is a matter of attitude. It affects not only your balance between offense and defending, but it's also deciding games," the Bayern coach stated.

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