Sadio Mane, Jamal Musiala, Thomas Müller and Serge Gnabry: Bayern Munich's Unpredictable Four
Bamboozling Bundesliga defences with pace, nifty interplay and precision finishing, Bayern Munich's brilliant attacking quartet of Sadio Mane, Jamal Musiala, Thomas Müller and Serge Gnabry are gaining the collective moniker of the Unpredictable Four, a fearsome band posting jaw-dropping numbers mere weeks into a spectacular new season.
It's the stuff of video game glee: lining up your make-believe, forward-thinking side in a 4-2-4 formation, hoping all the cogs fit into place as you attempt to overwhelm your opponent. For Bayern coach, Julian Nagelsmann, the scenario is almost Playstation made real, as the young tactician looks on as his awesome side zip and slide through opposing defences to devastating effect.
An opening season fixture list presented the Bavarians with plenty to ponder. A Supercup curtain raiser against RB Leipzig was followed by opening Bundesliga games against UEFA Europa League winners Eintracht Frankfurt and a the visit of a Wolfsburg team coached by a familiar face, Niko Kovac. The mighty Bayern won all three games, scoring a forehead-smacking 13 goals in the process. The post Robert Lewandowski era already up and running like a well-fuelled sports car, it is Mane, Musiala, Müller and Gnabry who are supplying the fearsome horse power up front.
Watch: Musiala and Müller combine to see off Wolfsburg
"We've had three good opponents at the start of the season and we've been able to beat all three, so we are very happy with that," the man in the driving seat, Nagelsmann, said of his team's super start to 2022/23.
Of the front quartet currently grabbing the headlines, the tactician added, "It's not that easy to defend against our four players in an offensive row because they are so brilliant at dribbling and finding free spaces; they have brilliant energy."
Leading the way in terms of numbers has been the magnificent Musiala, the 19-year-old Germany international who has already scored four times and provided one assist in Bayern's three competitive fixtures to date. The former Chelsea youth player is revelling in distinguished attacking company with the record champions. Already into his fourth season with the senior Bayern side, the Bundesliga's current top goalscorer's prospects for the campaign ahead are fearsome.
"That's the kind of start I was aiming for: to give everything, to score more goals and be more efficient in my game," Musiala said, in quotes appearing on Bayern's website.
"It's just great how he keeps going, how he twists and turns in tight spaces and what he [manages to produce] from that," the club's sporting director, Hasan Salihamidzic, said of Die Bayern's incredibly talented teen.
Increasing their attacking numbers through the centre since since Lewandowski's departure, the movement and quick interplay among the record champions' new forward setup is a sight to behold. The understanding between all four players has developed so rapidly, it almost seems as though new arrival Mane has been at the Bavarian giants for years.
The African Player of the Year and Ballon d'Or candidate has weighed in with two goals in three games in his new colours and has already become a fan favourite at the Allianz Arena.
>> Get Mane for your Fantasy team for 16.3M!
Watch: Sadio Mane motoring at Bayern
The celebration smiles on show have led living club legend, Müller, to declare, "We're remaining happy yet humble."
Last season's assist king scored Bayern's second in the win against Wolfsburg last weekend and he has already picked up where he left off last term, teeing up two goals in two Bundesliga games. Rarely a player to be seen with a frown, Müller is thriving amid the current good vibes, even saying after the final whistle last weekend, "I'm looking forward to the next week of training already!"
"We're really flexible up front, we move around, we get a lot of touches on the ball and run in deep: it's fun," Musiala added of Bayern's electric start, which has seen the Bundesliga's ten in-a-row title winners try to outnumber teams' defences with incisive forward thrusts.
"Over time, it will become much more rehearsed," warned Gnabry, who has scored two goals and added two assists in three games. "Having the space in the middle in front of the goal suits me."
Bayern having begun their three competitive games with the same starting XI has certainly helped in terms of their consistent on-field displays. With games against Bochum and Borussia Mönchengladbach approaching, the opportunities for the team's Unpredictable Four to further gel as an attacking unit will have opposition coaches fretting.
"I feel like we're playing amazing football and that everyone is in a good flow right now," Musiala said. "We're creating chances and we're having fun. It makes it easier for everyone when we're playing like this."
Jamal Musiala's career in numbers
The exciting Bayern Munich attacker who is famed for his dribbling ability has been setting records from the start.
Thomas Müller: Mr. Bayern Munich
We pay tribute to the homegrown hero as he gets his hands on a record-extending 12th Bundesliga title...
Serge Gnabry, Karim Adeyemi and the key players in the title race
bundesliga.com looks at the star men helping keep the title race between Bayern and BVB on the boil...