How Bayern Munich hope to end Arsenal’s Women's Champions League dream: From England's Georgia Stanway to an NFL-inspired coach

Georgia Stanway Alexander Straus Klara Buhl Bayern Munich 2022-23 GFXGetty

Barcelona had won 16 games in a row when they visited Bayern Munich in December.

It was a run that started with a 4-0 victory over Real Madrid and had gone on to include a repeat of that same result, a comprehensive 3-0 win over Bayern and a 6-1 thrashing of Atletico Madrid.

It was a run in which they had scored an incredible 71 goals, averaged 4.4 per game, conceded just six times and kept 10 clean sheets.

But it was a run that ended that night at the Allianz Arena, as Bayern sent a message to the whole of Europe in an outstanding 3-1 victory.

With new boss Alexander Straus, superb signings such as England’s Georgia Stanway and the way the group has come together so well, Bayern are one of the continent’s most exciting teams – not just because of what they are doing right now, but because of the promise the project has for the future, too.

Since coming through in his native Norway, Straus has been slowly building a reputation as one of the most exciting coaches in the game.

“He was the coach for Sandviken for one year when I played in Arna-Bjornar,” Maria Brochmann, who played under the 47-year-old at former club Brann, tells GOAL.

“Some of my friends were playing for Sandviken at the time, so they were talking about him because they had never had a coach like him before.

“They were saying that he was a fantastic coach and everything was so good. We were like, 'Are they kidding? Is he as fantastic as they say?' They loved him, actually.”

Alexander Straus Maria Brochmann quote gfx 4:5Getty/GOAL

Soon enough, Brochmann would find out for herself.

During his time with Brann, which lasted just under two years before Bayern came calling, Straus would lead the club to a league title and a cup final in 2021, before setting them on their way to a league-and-cup double in 2022.

“He has a really clear football philosophy in how he wants the team to play,” the forward explains. “Defensively, I don't think I have had any other coach that was so into how we are going to press the other team.

“High press, mid press, low block – all these things to win the ball when the other team was starting from the back. I think we won a lot of matches because we had really good pressure.”

“We want to play dominant and attacking football,” Straus tells GOAL of his Bayern team. “We want to play offensive with a lot of passes and a lot of rotation.

"We want to control and have the ball – and when we lose the ball, we want to get it back as fast as possible.”

It’s a style inspired from different sports.

When asked about his influences, the Norwegian name checks Bill Belichick first, the coach of the New England Patriots in the NFL. It is under Belichick, and with Tom Brady pulling the strings, that the Patriots won the Super Bowl six times.

“It’s about the culture and how to build a culture in a club,” he explains. “I took a lot from him and how they did it.

Bayern Munich women quote gfx 4:5Getty/GOAL

“In European football it always changes a bit,” he adds. “Right now, Roberto De Zerbi from Brighton is very interesting.

"He has many good ideas and is a bit similar to my thoughts and my philosophy of how I want to play.”

That his inspirations are fluid tells you about Straus’ adaptability, too.

“I never wanted to come to Bayern and replicate everything the way I did it before,” he says. “That’s not how it works. I also need to adapt.

"The most important thing for a coach is to try to get the best out of the players you have in your team.”

He’s certainly doing that. Stanway’s position, for example, is often a little deeper in midfield than some might’ve expected yet the Euro 2022 winner has been outstanding for her new club. In the Champions League, no Bayern player has been directly involved in more goals.

“It’s exciting!” Stanway told the Independent. “It kind of gives me a licence to go and join attacks, and be creative, get shots off, slip players in, work in wide triangles or link with the No.9 or whatever may be.”

She’s not the only one adapting and excelling. Klara Buhl, the young German winger, looked to be struggling to shine under Straus at first. That’s not the case anymore, at all.

“We worked both ways really, really well," the coach says. "She has adapted to my ideas and my thoughts and I tried to change things in a way to get the best for her – and for the last few months now she has been doing amazing.”

Those are just two of the names that Arsenal will need to be wary of in their upcoming Champions League quarter-final. After all, Bayern have six players from the Germany squad that reached the Euro 2022 final.

The coach is also bringing promising young players into that star-studded group, be it Maria Grohs, the 21-year-old shot-stopper who has become Bayern's No.1, or teenage winger Franziska Kett, who features in this year's Women's NXGN list.

That's no surprise since Signe Gaupset, another name on this year’s list of the best young players in the world, rose to prominence under Straus at Brann.

It’s not all been rosy, of course. Injuries have hampered his team along the way – with two right-backs lost to ACL injuries before mid-October – and last summer’s major tournaments limited the pre-season period.

In fact, Straus has described the first few months of his Bayern tenure as "probably the most difficult" he has been a part of "to achieve what we have".

That just makes what this team has done so far all the more impressive.

“All the players have a lot of respect for him but he's also very good at creating a trust between him and the players,” Brochmann says. “That's the way I think he's working in Bayern Munich now.

“He's used a lot of time to create that trust between the player and himself. If the players do not agree with him, they can say it to him and he will take it.

"But I think the trust between the player and himself is very important for him.

“I'm not surprised at all [by his success so far]. I think that was the right step for him. I've had a lot of coaches through my years, but he's probably the best that I've ever had.”

“We are still in the middle of a very long process and I keep repeating that there will be bumps on this road,” Straus says. “We really believe in what we are doing and we will be much better next year than this year.”

To face this Bayern team right now is quite a daunting task – and yet, they’re still a work in progress. That’s quite a prospect.