Bayern Munich's treble quest has been boosted by the return of Sadio Mane (3rd.r). - © DFL
Bayern Munich's treble quest has been boosted by the return of Sadio Mane (3rd.r). - © DFL

Sadio Mane, Joao Cancelo and a Bayern Munich squad built to win it all


Who needs a best XI when you have such a good squad? With the arrival of Joao Cancelo and the return of Sadio Mane, Bayern Munich look well set for the business end of the 2022/23 season. casts an eye over the multiple options available to Julian Nagelsmann as Bayern target league, cup and UEFA Champions League glory.

It's not so long ago that Bayern and Nagelsmann were experiencing a troubling period. Many other clubs would welcome a "problem" spell that saw them still top of the league and extending an unbeaten run in the Bundesliga to 11 matches. For a team like Bayern, however, three successive draws to start the year was a cause for concern.

The previous year had ended badly for the record German champions too, with the news that goalkeeper Manuel Neuer - their captain and a 10-time Bundesliga winner - would miss the rest of the season with a broken leg.

Watch: Bayern's recent win over Union Berlin

Bayern, though, quickly addressed personnel issues and have seen results improve. Those three consecutive draws have been followed by eight wins from nine matches in all competitions - with the defeat at Borussia Mönchengladbach largely down to an eighth-minute red card for Dayot Upamecano.

Nagelsmann now has a confident team and - crucially - a squad that looks capable of flourishing during a frantic end to the season.


Losing a netminder as experienced and influential as Neuer would be a blow to any club. Bayern reacted quickly, however, by bringing in a top-quality replacement.

Yann Sommer had already shown his talent against the 10-in-a-row champions earlier in the campaign, making a Bundesliga-record 19 saves in Gladbach's 1-1 draw in Munich last August.

Watch: The best of Sommer

Bayern welcomed their new goalkeeper on 19 January, safe in the knowledge that Sommer was well aware of what he was getting himself in for. The 34-year-old is in his ninth season in German football after all, having amassed 272 appearances in the Bundesliga alone with his previous club.

The veteran appreciates the demands of the highest level too. Sommer has 80 caps for Switzerland and featured at two European Championship tournaments and two World Cups. He has often excelled in those competitions as well so - backed by Neuer's long-time No. 2 Sven Ulreich - Bayern look well covered.


Bayern made a shrewd signing at the start of January by recruiting Daley Blind on a free transfer. The 32-year-old had just returned from the 2022 World Cup, playing his part as the Netherlands reached the quarter-finals after previously helping them to a third-place finish in 2014.

"Pick me!" Netherlands international Daley Blind has added to Bayern's options. - IMAGO/Laci Perenyi/IMAGO/Laci Perenyi

Blind brought with him a wealth of experience and a winning mentality. A seven-time Dutch champion with Ajax, he reached the 2018/19 Champions League semi-finals with the Amsterdam club and won the UEFA Europa League with Manchester United in 2016/17.

Nagelsmann will also appreciate the fact that Blind can cover several positions. Predominately a left-back - even if it's to give Alphonso Davies a breather for 20 minutes it looks a low-risk signing - he can also pitch in at centre-back or as a holding midfielder.

Flexibility is a key attribute of another of Bayern's winter arrivals. The Bundesliga leaders probably can't believe their luck that a player of Joao Cancelo's talent was available on loan in the January transfer window.

This is a player, after all, who was named by his peers in the FIFA FIFPRO Men's World11 in February. He was also previously hailed as someone who revolutionised the English Premier League with his role as an inverted full-back.

Watch: Cancelo - A Portuguese in Munich

The 28-year-old Portugal international won two league titles under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, standing out for the way he would start off at full-back but often end up in a more central role in midfield depending how a game went.

That type of tactical awareness is right up Nagelsmann's street, and the Bayern head coach will happily use Cancelo on either flank as part of a four-man back line or at wing-back. Cancelo's impressive dribbling, crossing and attacking intent also adds to Bayern's goal threat - he already has three goal involvements in five Bundesliga appearances.

Lucas Hernandez, who suffered a cruciate ligament injury while playing for France at the World Cup, is a significant absentee - but Blind and Cancelo are considerable additions.

In Benjamin Pavard and Josip Stanisic, Bayern also have further options on the flanks, while Morocco World Cup star Noussair Mazraoui is easing his way back after illness and will hopefully be at his best long before the season ends.

French pair Dayot Upamecano (l.) and Benjamin Pavard (r.) can provide great security for Bayern at the back. - IMAGO/Federico Pestellini/IMAGO/PanoramiC

In central defence, meanwhile, Bayern can rely upon the rapid Upamecano and former Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt as well as adaptable 2018 World Cup winner Pavard.


Bayern are blessed to have two remarkably consistent central midfield performers in Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich. Both have been mainstays for the six-time European champions for many years now, and it's no surprise that Bayern looked so dominant in France when they started together in boht legs of their 3-0 aggregate victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League round of 16.

Both Goretzka and Kimmich had three league goals each by Matchday 24 of 2022/23, with the latter's pinpoint set-piece deliveries meaning he also contributed four assists.

Kimmich is in the top five in the league for distance covered and in the top 10 for passing accuracy, with over 90 percent of his passes finding a teammate. Having just turned 28, his competitive attitude and leadership qualities also make him a huge asset.

Another Germany international who turned 28 in early February, Goretzka missed the start of this season through injury. He has since brought his power to bear as Bayern climbed to the top of the Bundesliga, won their Champions League group at a canter, and coasted through to the DFB Cup quarter-finals.

With those two in such good shape, Bayern felt comfortable enough to let Marcel Sabitzer leave on loan for Manchester United over the winter. If needed, though, 20-year-old Dutch midfielder Ryan Gravenberch can be called upon.


Bayern's 4-2-3-1 or 3-4-3 formations provide plenty of starting berths for attacking talents, and the Munich giants are not short on those. Mane was Bayern's marquee summer signing, and his impact from now until the end of the campaign could be telling.

The former Liverpool star was initially deployed as a striker under Nagelsmann, but Bayern looked much more dangerous when he was switched to a more familiar wide role on the left. After that change was made, the Senegal international's new club scored four or more goals in seven of their 12 matches across all competitions between the end of September and early November.

Watch: Bayern's all-star attack

That was until Mane - who has six league goals - got an injury that kept him out for over 100 days. He finally returned as a substitute in the 3-0 win over Union Berlin on Matchday 22, before slotting back into the starting XI in the absence of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting in the 5-3 win over Augsburg two weeks later - and marking the occasion with his fourth Bundesliga assist.

Choupo-Moting is enjoying a stellar season, reaching a tally of 17 goals in all competitions with the opening strike in the PSG second leg. The Cameroon veteran got the first of his 10 goals in the Bundesliga in a 5-0 victory over Freiburg, and no player has scored more times in the league since that Matchday 10 encounter.

Mane's pace and direct running will likely create more goals for Choupo-Moting, but that goes for a host of other players at Bayern's disposal too.

The quick feet and sharp thinking of Jamal Musiala have been a sight to behold, for example, and he is also delivering in big moments. The Germany attacker marked his 20th birthday with a goal in the top-of-the-table clash against Union, his 11th in the Bundesliga this season to go with nine assists.

Watch: Catch Musiala if you can 

Kingsley Coman was the other player on target against Union, bringing his scoring streak to five goals in four matches. With five league goals and four assists the France winger is having a fine campaign, and that's before mentioning his winner away to former club PSG in the Champions League last 16.

Coman - who also netted the only goal against the French champions in the Champions League final in 2019/20 - is one of several Bayern attackers who have won the treble before.

Thomas Müller has done it twice of course - he also won everything in 2012/13 - and the 33-year-old is prominent again this campaign. Capable of playing in any forward role, the one-club man has chipped in with four league goals and seven assists so far. His cool head, know-how and leadership and will be vital to Bayern the deeper the season goes.

Wing men Serge Gnabry (nine Bundesliga goals and four assists) and Leroy Sane (seven goals, four assists and the seventh-fastest player in the league this season) are superb options to have as well.

Julian Nagelsmann (l.) and Thomas Müller (r.) can combine their powers to plot a brilliant end to the 2022/23 season. - IMAGO/Bernd Feil/M.i.S./IMAGO/MIS

Last but not least there is French forward Mathys Tel, still only 17 but with four league goals already from one start and 15 appearances from the bench.

It's not something you need to have sympathy with Nagelsmann for, but he must have a hell of a headache when it comes to choosing his starting XI. And if they continue to stay relatively injury-free, that could make all the difference for Bayern come the end of the season.