The German record champions FC Bayern, who are used to success, are threatened with losing their goals for the season within a short time. There is a crisis at every nook and corner.
“We have a great opportunity to become German champions.” Oliver Kahn couldn’t think of much more after the clear 3-0 defeat in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals at Manchester City. If the CEO of FC Bayern has to name the mandatory title as a goal, it becomes clear that the Munich team is in a real crisis. The goals for the season seem to be slipping through the fingers of the most successful German football club: After the surprising knockout in the DFB Cup against SC Freiburg, Bayern is also on the verge of being eliminated from the Champions League after bankruptcy in Manchester. The two defeats within a week revealed the team’s major construction sites.
It starts at the gate. Yann Sommer, who was hired by Borussia Mönchengladbach for eight million euros to replace the long-term injured Manuel Neuer, is a solid but not outstanding goalkeeper who gives a back team a sense of security. “I would have thought when he came he could do it. I have to revise myself today. He didn’t make it,” said former international and today’s “Sky” expert Dietmar Hamann after Sommer had had to reach back three times in Manchester and had previously jeopardized his own goal by dribbling in his own penalty area against City striker Erling Haaland.
“You have a goalkeeper in there who almost kicks the ball in himself after 20 minutes. That’s when you start to tremble. You think: Can we still play him?”
Insecure defense, midfield with unstable form
The Bayern defense does indeed seem insecure when it comes under pressure. France international defender Dayot Upamecano’s hair-raising mistake before the 2-0 loss to City speaks volumes. The midfield of Munich, which is actually just bursting with football talent and creativity, is having a hard time.
The internationals Leon Goretzka, Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sané, Joshua Kimmich, and Thomas Müller have been looking for consistently good form since the failed World Cup in Qatar. In Manchester, Müller initially even had to sit on the substitutes’ bench and slipped into the role of an assistant coach, who was asked for his opinion by Thomas Tuchel when defender Matthijs de Ligt had to be treated and it was not clear whether he could continue playing.
Storm without a top scorer
FC Bayern also lost a lot of power in attack after the departure of two-time world footballer Robert Lewandowski to FC Barcelona. Liverpool’s Senegalese Sadio Mané hasn’t been able to fill the gap so far, but he’s not a typical goalscorer either.
This attribute applies more to Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting. But the 34-year-old Cameroonian is prone to injury – and he cannot be compared to world-class strikers like Haaland or Karim Benzema from Real Madrid.
In the Bundesliga’s current top scorer list, which Lewandowski had dominated five times in a row before he left Munich, Bayern’s first professional appears in sixth place: Jamal Musiala with eleven goals. But even the young star of Bayern has to learn the lesson this season with his only 20 years. Musiala owed the penalty in injury time in the DFB Cup quarter-finals with a rather clumsy handball that gave Freiburg victory.
Unresolved change of coach
The team may also just need time to adjust to Thomas Tuchel. The new coach, who won the Champions League with Chelsea in 2021, was brought in for Julian Nagelsmann – when the club was still dancing at all three weddings: a second place just behind Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, in the quarter-finals of the DFB Cup and in Europe elite class.
“The idea was clear, the new Bayern management wanted the treble. They weren’t satisfied with the development of the team under Nagelsmann, and suddenly with Tuchel there was an experienced coach on the market,” said former Bayern icon Bastian Schweinsteiger WDR. “The exchange was brave. And sometimes courage is not rewarded, at least not yet.” The change of coach does not seem to have been processed within the team. “Of course, the story was special for us players,” said Thomas Müller. “The club has decided.”
Team spirit with scratches
The scandal between attacking players Mané and Sané reveals that Bayern’s team spirit is not in the best of shape at the moment. After they attacked each other on the pitch in Manchester, a physical altercation is said to have broken out in the dressing room. As so often recently, it didn’t take long for the incident to become public knowledge. Mané hit Sané in the face, German media reported.
“It would be nice if something that happens in the dressing room stays in the dressing room,” said Tuchel at the press conference before the Bundesliga game against TSG Hoffenheim. His predecessor Nagelsmann had already complained vehemently that internal information from team meetings had become public. In the case of Mané, the club reacted and suspended the Senegalese for the Hoffenheim game. In addition, Mané has to pay a fine, the amount of which FC Bayern is silent.
Coach Tuchel needs time to process all the construction sites. The time he doesn’t actually have because the season is entering the home straight.
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