Cologne - It does not take a mathematician to work out that four cannot go into two, but that is the equation FC Bayern München's defenders have had to get their head around for much of the season.
After it seemed like Pep Guardiola was going to play with three central defenders this term, the Catalan coach has instead opted to start with a straight back four in the majority of Bayern's matches. The return of Holger Badstuber from injury and the summer signing of Medhi Benatia has therefore left him with something of a dilemma, albeit a positive one: which central defensive partnership works best for Bayern?
To help him solve that conundrum, bundesliga.com has run the rule over the four candidates at the 44-year-old's disposal...
Each of Guardiola's choices brings something to the table, but that does not necessarily answer the question as to which two centre-backs produce the goods together. Boateng and Dante have been Guardiola's first-choice on eight occasions, earning 19 points, while Bayern have won all three games in which Benatia has partnered the Brazilian. Boateng and Benatia have won 13 points from their five games in the heart of Bayern's defence, and Badstuber has also yet to lose in a two-man central pairing.
Boateng was partnered by David Alaba and Juan Bernat in a three-man back line in Bayern's 2-0 win over 1. FC Köln on Matchday 6, while Guardiola also opted for a defensive trio for the Matchday 2 draw with Schalke. Since then, four at the back has been his staple, and it was that system which brought success against Hannover on Matchday 25 after his initial choice of three defenders was abandoned half an hour in. Two in the middle therefore seems to work best, but deciding which two centre-backs work best together is an unenviable task indeed.