Bayern Munich's injury issues were one of the main things that stopped them from returning to European glory last season. The Bundesliga was a walk in the park for Die Bayern, but Barcelona caused the German giants a Champions League exit last spring.
Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben missed crucial periods of last season's fixture list. Robben has since recovered from his setback but the Frenchman Ribery has been out since March 2015. Bayern had to bring in a replacement during the summer window, and they opened their checkbook to sign Brazilian winger Douglas Costa from Shakhtar Donetsk.
The 25-year-old has destroyed Bundesliga defences since arriving from Ukraine. Three assists and one goal in just five games speaks for itself, and Costa has been played out of his preferred position the whole time.
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The Brazilian is a predominantly right sided player with a dominant right foot, and he has been played on the left side with Thomas Muller playing on the opposite flank. Muller is like a second striker, and thus makes runs on the inside along with Robert Lewandowski. This likeness in Muller and Lewandowski's style of play frees Costa up to dribble on either wing.
When Muller is on the right side, Douglas Costa runs at the right back of the opposing side and forces them inward. Just like Franck Ribery, he is capable of going at any defender at maximum speed, which makes him a constant threat.
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In his first five games in the German league, Costa has completed 21 successful dribbles of 34 attempted. He has the third highest attacking rating in the Bundesliga according to squawka.com, only behind Yunus Malli and his teammate, Thomas Muller. While Ribery is scheduled to be back in the Bayern first team within a week or two, does it make sense to exclude Costa?
There is no question about Thomas Muller's current ability, and his form this season is proving that he deserves to start in any European side. There is no doubt about Robert Lewandowski's quality and that leaves Ribery and Robben to be rotated into the team.
Robben has started three times and failed to take over the game, only scoring one goal so far. He looked in a separate mind from Costa when the two played together, and it could be for a multitude of reasons. Robben has not played with Costa for a long time like he had Franck Ribery, so his mental understanding with the Brazilian is not at the same level. Robben is also not a provider - he likes to dribble and shoot rather than give an opportunity to another attacker.
Ribery is still a top class winger, but his legs were visibly worn out in last year's campaign and he spent much of it out through injury. The Frenchman played alongside Arjen Robben for a number of years for Die Bayern but the partnership has appeared less frequently due to the arrival of Lewandowski and the emergence of Muller.
On current form, it would be crazy to take Douglas Costa out of the team. But more than that, it seems like the new vanguard of Bayern's attack is starting to gel at a pace that would be detrimental to stop. The ability to use Costa, Muller, Gotze and Lewandowski in different systems has been hugely successful, and young talents like Kingsley Coman are able to come on to the pitch and change the game.
Using this new look team, they have scored three goals per game in the Bundesliga. Even if Josep Guardiola doesn't stay for very long, this current front three looks like it could be formidable for a long time.
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