- Ancelotti off to a perfect start as Bayern coach.
- Hummels and Sanches crucial new options in talented squad.
- Employed front three at PSG and Real Madrid.
Carlo Ancelotti's FC Bayern München record so far reads: fives games played, four won, 30 players used. His squad at the Allianz Arena is bursting at the seams with talent, though a look back over the Italian tactician's recent sides could shed some light on whom might play where for the champions next term…
Whilst Ancelotti is a versatile coach, his Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid CF teams - which picked up a total of five trophies in his four combined seasons at the helm - have invariably lined up in a 4-3-3 formation (or a 4-2-3-1, depending on how advanced the number 10 position is).
With Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery injured for much of 2015/16, last summer's fresh arrivals Douglas Costa and Kingsley Coman were each given 20-plus starts in Bayern's title-winning campaign. At the back, 21-year-old Joshua Kimmich proved to be a breakout star, deputising with aplomb at central defence with Jerome Boateng, Javi Martinez and Holger Badstuber facing frequent visits to the club's medical staff. In attack, Catalan coach Pep Guardiola relaxed his usual distrust of out-and-out strikers, allowing Robert Lewandowski to rack up a Torjägerkanone-winning 30 goals.
Watch: All 30 of Robert Lewandowski's goals from 2015/16:
So what might Ancelotti change? An obvious starting point is the fact that Bayern have bolstered the squad with two standout talents in Mats Hummels and Renato Sanches. Allowed to leave Bayern in 2008, the former returns as the fulcrum of world champions Germany's back-line and is set to re-establish his central-defensive partnership with Boateng at club level. The latter should feature prominently in midfield after becoming the youngest player ever to win the UEFA EURO, with Portugal, this summer.
Ancelotti has always preferred a partnership of head, heart and lungs in his three-man central midfield, meanwhile. At PSG Marco Verratti pulled the strings, at Real that job went to Xabi Alonso. Reunited with the decorated Spaniard, it is hard to imagine anyone else being given that role next season. In Sanches and Arturo Vidal, Ancelotti has two lung-bursting players, each of whom won titles over the summer, with Vidal mirroring Sanches' success with his own Copa America Centenario triumph with Chile.
Ancelotti's preference for natural number nines will have allowed Lewandowski a sigh of relief this summer, and the biggest question mark now is which combination of Thomas Müller, Costa, Coman, Ribery and Robben he will plump for out wide. Ancelotti gave Coman his debut for PSG before allowing the then-teenager to embark on an incredible journey that took in league titles in Italy and Germany before his 20th birthday, whilst Ribery this week said he'd "eat grass" for the coach.
However it shakes out, it promises to be another exhilarating season at the Allianz Arena. With the embarrassment or riches above, it would not be safe to count against Bayern winning a first UEFA Champions League title since 2012/13 - and what would be a sixth European title for the Italian - by the end of the campaign.
Watch: FC Bayern München's magnificent home, the Allianz Arena: