Lucas Hernandez joined Bayern Munich as the most expensive Bundesliga defender ever last summer; for a fee of £72,000,000 from Atletico Madrid. His first season in Munich has not gone entirely to plan though, with the Frenchman only starting eight Bundesliga games so far this campaign after an ankle injury in October kept him out until February.
Although it has not been the dream start to his Bayern Munich career, Hernandez has still demonstrated his qualities when he has played and this tactical analysis, which will be in the form of a scout report, will be analysing what the Frenchman has offered De Rotten when he has been in the side and what he will offer them for years to come.
How Hernandez fits in at Bayern Munich
The 24-year-old is a great asset to have in your side, as he is able to operate at centre-back and left-back; both to high standards. For Bayern, he has played six times as a left-back and six times as a centre-back.
Even when playing centre-back, as shown in his heatmap above, Hernandez finds himself operating in wider positions because of the tactics implemented by Hans-Dieter Flick. In transitions, either Joshua Kimmich or Thiago will often drop into the defence to create a back three with the full-backs pushing on. This means that the two centre-back’s will spread into wider positions on the ball as shown below.
This type of build-up in transitions is great for a player like Hernandez, who enjoys playing forward passes to players in spaces. Building with a back three creates multiple more angles to work with rather than building with a back two.
When at left-back, Hernandez will operate in a high position due to the tactics previously explained. This allows him to overlap the winger more often and also look for passes inside to midfielders in space, between the lines or in the half-spaces. Below is the type of space that Hernandez finds himself in during attacking transition when playing at left-back for Bayern Munich.
Hernandez is a very impressive passer of the ball and I will analyse this aspect of his game soon in this scout report. The build-up tactics which are implemented at Bayern Munich help create more passing lanes for the defender, as they have potentially the best positional play in Europe. At left-back or centre-back, he is a great fit for the side.
So far in his career, according to transfermarkt, Hernandez has played 87 matches at centre-back and 67 at left-back. This could be considered as impressive versatility, however, it could also be a hindrance to Hernandez’s overall development as a player, rotating from the left to the centre could mean less improvement in the long run for the Frenchman, as he will be without consistent game-time in a single position. This could be sufficient in an average side but at a European giant like Bayern, he needs to consistently play in the same position to take his game to the next level.
Impressive passing range and ability
Whether it is a line-splitting pass or one to break an opposition press, Hernandez has the ability to make the pass. He is a very astute passer of the ball and this is backed up by the fact he has an impressive 89.59% pass accuracy; which is made even more admirable when you see that he averages 69.63 passes per 90 too.
While he can at times be too cautious in playing into a forward player, which I will analyse soon, he still finds them at a solid rate as a defender. Hernandez averages 27 forward passes per 90 and 10.25 of them being to the final third; impressive numbers, yet expected at a club like Bayern, who dominate possession as they do. The side averages the most passes per 90 in the Bundesliga at 635.
In the image above, we can see Hernandez progressing the ball with a pinpoint pass into Coutinho’s feet. As the Frenchman is slowly moving forward with the ball, Coutinho makes a quick movement into the space highlighted in the image, Hernandez can see this movement from his teammate and he plays an accurate pass with enough power in it to break the forward and midfield lines of the opposition, but also it was not too powerful for Coutinho, as the Brazilian popped the ball to Ivan Perisic on the left.
In the image above, Hernandez is being highly pressured by two opposition players. They are in close proximity to the defender but Hernandez is able to play the ball out of defence thus breaking the strong press that the opposition had on him. He plays a smart pass between the two attackers to his teammate in space, this shows great vision but also great composure as he was under intense pressure by the opposition.
He can also make impressive passes into the forward players from wide areas when playing as a fullback, this is always a benefit to players such as Coutinho and Thomas Müller, who look to operate in the half-spaces and between the lines.
In the image above, Hernandez has just intercepted a pass from the opposition. Straight after he recovered the ball he finds Coutinho in the half-space with a quick pass. This quick decision from Hernandez then allows Coutinho to turn and run at the opposition defence who are in the midst of transition, making it harder to defend a quick attack.
One thing about having such great forward players is the demand that they give out. When the creative players find spaces on the pitch, they expect the pass to be played nine times out of ten. Hernandez joined from Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid, where the tactics differ to that at Bayern. The Frenchman is not completely used to having options in the spaces as much as the Bayern forwards offer, and he sometimes misses out on these passes because of this.
This is shown in the image above, Hernandez has the ball and Müller makes a great run into a good space between the lines of the opposition. Hernandez is unable to spot the run from Müller and instead plays a backwards pass, even though he has impressive forward passing numbers, at Bayern Munich, there is always room for improvement.
How Hernandez utilises his solid pace
Hernandez has impressive speed and this helps him in both defence and attack. It allows him to recover well when in defensive transition, he averages 10.38 recoveries per 90. While it is also a great asset to him on the flank as he can offer a dangerous overlap option when operating on the left.
Hernandez recovery pace is shown in the image above. Bayern aren’t in an ideal situation as the ball breaks on the left side for Paderborn after a Bayern corner. This could be a dangerous counter but the recovery pace of Hernandez men’s that he can reach the ball carrier and take the ball from him through an interception. This impressive recovery pace from the Frenchman relieves pressure from Bayern in defensive transition.
As I said, his pace can also be used in an offensive sense. Hernandez offers a solid overlap option when playing at left-back, he has a solid amount of pace to create a problem for the opposition defenders.
In the image above, Ivan Perisic has the ball in the half-space with an opposition defender in close proximity. The speed of Hernandez to offer the overlap means that the opposition defender needs to step across. This gives Persiic sufficient time in order to cross into the box.
He might not have the lightening speed of his fellow teammate, Alphonso Davies, but Hernandez has more than enough speed to cause a problem in attack and also be reliable in defensive transition.
To be a top defender, it is a great asset to be able to read the game. It allows you to be one step ahead of the opposition, Hernandez recovers the ball at a solid rate as I have said before. He often will look to turn defence into an attack by intercepting a pass, he averages 1.41 interceptions per 90.
Hernandez’s reading of the game is exemplified through the image above, where the opposition is trying to build an attack with a through ball on the right side. However, Hernandez reads the pass out wide and begins to attack the ball, he is able to make the tackle and stop a dangerous attack from the opposition. He is only able to get to the ball first because he reacted to the play before it was made, showing great reading of the play.
The image above is another great example of how Hernandez can help his side through his reading of the play. As the opposition gain possession of the ball, they look for a quick pass into the forward. However, Hernandez reads this pass and is able to get in front of the opposition and intercept the ball by passing to a teammate. He does not only read the play in this situation but his calmness and timing of his movement let him pass to a teammate and allows Bayern to maintain pressure on the opposition defence.
He is not just great at reading the play of the opposition but Hernandez is also a solid 1v1 defender. This is supported by his impressive defensive duel success rate of 61.9%, he also averages 7.87 defensive duels per 90, which is impressive considering he is in a side which dominates possession.
In the image above, Hernande is put in a very difficult situation. He is the last line of defence and has two opposition players running at him. His composure is shown, he does not pressure the ball carrier too much but he also ensures that his forward passing option is still offside. This means the ball carrier will have to take Hernandez on. Hernandez is patient and his body position encourages the opposition to attack the flank, where it is less dangerous. Once the opposition player attacks the flank, Hernandez can show his pace and strength and he manages to win the tackle.
Hernandez also possesses a strong presence in the air. He has an impressive leap and powerful header, which can help him when teams are attempting to be more direct against Bayern; which is very often. Hernandez might only take part in an average of 2.5 aerial duels per 90, his success rate is at a great 75%.
The image above is a typical example of how Hernandez wins his battles in the air. As the ball is played in the air towards him, the defender first builds momentum with a few steps forward, before leaping up. The momentum built up beforehand ensures he can beat his opponent in the air. Once in the air, Hernandez can get a good connection on the ball so that it is cleared far, this means that the opposition’s attack is slowed and the Bayern attackers can try and win the ball back, which Robert Lewandowski does.
Here is another example of Hernandez’ s aerial ability. Again, he notices the ball played in the air and runs forward, creating momentum. This helps him to outjump his opponent and win the aerial duel.
As many teams will look to play into a target man when playing against Bayern, the fact that Hernandez can match many players aerially makes him a solid asset in the defender for them.
Although Lucas Hernandez has not had a successful season personally, this tactical analysis has proven that he has shown his strengths while in a Bayern Munich shirt and it is only a matter of time before he shows it consistently for the side.
Hernandez is a great flexible defender, however, it seems that he will more than likely play predominantly at centre-back after the emergence of Alphonso Davies at left-back this season.
The analysis has shown that Hernandez has impressive ball-playing abilities and also is a solid defender on the floor as well as in the air. Even though David Alaba has been quite remarkable at centre-back this season, it is very likely that Bayern will have Hernandez occupy that position next season, whether that is in place of the Austrian or next to him.