It took a portion of Bayern Munich fans by surprise, but in recent weeks, Julian Nagelsmann has shown a bit of a preference to playing Josip Stanišić over Joao Cancelo in Bayern’s back line. He started over Cancelo in the recent Bundesliga matches against Union Berlin and VfB Stuttgart, but only came on as a second half sub in last weekend’s 2-1 loss at Bayer Leverkusen. Most notably, he started in the second leg Champions League win over Paris Saint-Germain at the Allianz Arena to clinch Bayern’s advancement to the quarter finals, for which they have been drawn to face Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
For Nagelsmann, there is nothing against Cancelo as a player, he just sees things from a tactical perspective with how he wants the back three system to work, which Cancelo can also be just as effective in.
For now, though, Stanišić is feeling the wave of confidence with the amount of minutes he’s been getting in recent weeks, as he explained in a press conference with the Croatian national team ahead of their Euro 2024 qualifier against Wales. “I’m full of confidence, that’s normal when you play several games in a row. When I heard Cancelo would come, I knew the situation would be much more difficult for me, but I had a lot of competition before, so it wasn’t a problem for me,” he explained (via @iMiaSanMia).
Of course, even as a right-back by trade, he’ll now also face the prospect of Benjamin Pavard staying at Bayern beyond this summer, as the Frenchmen has had a change of heart in terms of his future with the club since he’s fallen back into favor with Nagelsmann. Lucas Hernandez’s long-term injury absence has opened that proverbial door for him.
Looking at the full context and circumstantial factors as a whole with his period of increased minutes for Bayern, Stanišić is well aware that there were factors working in his favor fortuitously, but it doesn’t lessen his happiness. “I’m happy that I played more games in the past period, we played in a different formation. Pavard got red, Upamecano too. You need luck sometimes, I think I made good use of the opportunity that presented itself to me,” he said, self aware of everything that aided in him getting more time.