Drawing their past three Bundesliga matches rather than winning them was raising concerns at Bayern Munich with the dropping of so many points in succession almost unheard of. Saturday’s Bavarian derby with FC Augsburg was supposed to allow them to stop the rot. The rot has however deepened with a first league defeat of the season. Fully blown crisis? No. The start of a mini crisis? Oh yes!
Before we continue, let’s put this into context. Bayern are now fourth in the table having taken 12 points from their seven games. They are only three points behind current leaders Borussia Dortmund, so we are not talking a Bochum-like crisis where they have zero points. However, at Bayern everything is magnified, and a drama can soon morph into a crisis.
The Oktoberfest began on Saturday, but any sore heads the Bayern players are feeling on Sunday morning will be caused by the chastening defeat they suffered at the AWD Arena to a side winless at home prior to the Rekordmeister’s arrival. The stark words of criticism from sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic will also be ringing in their ears.
“We haven’t won in four league games” he said glumly post-match. “We’ve taken three points from a possible 12, so I’m a little worried. You can’t win in the Bundesliga the way we played today. We lacked focus and the desire to put the ball in the net with the chances we had, and we gave away chances too.
“If we’re honest, against Barcelona we also had a few situations against us in the first half that could have led to goals against us. We have problems against teams that are physical against us. If we don’t bring discipline, hunger, and physicality, we can’t win. Now there are no more excuses, we have to pick up some wins.”
Salihamidzic cites two issues- taking chances and hunger. Yann Sommer grabbed all the headlines from Bayern’s 1-1 draw with Mönchengladbach on matchday 4 with his record-breaking 19 saves, but accusations of wastefulness and a lack of precision must also be levelled at the Bayern players. They created and got into the right scoring positions, only to fail to convert (something that was clicking against Eintracht Frankfurt and Bochum).
There will be some people who raise the name of Robert Lewandowski here. Bayern’s talismanic former striker in all likelihood would have converted a number (if not all) of these chances, but his departure cannot be deemed the direct reason for the dropped points. The players Bayern have are more than capable of scoring the required goals (just ask Kevin Trapp and Manuel Riemann).
The hunger issue is a little deeper. Bayern no doubt has the quality, but sometimes ‘hunger and desire’ can prove even more decisive. After ten Bundesliga titles in a row, how do you keep up the motivation to approach every game with the same desire for three points. Coming from the high of beating Barcelona in midweek to the seemingly straightforward task of beating Augsburg needs that ‘hunger’ Salihamidzic spoke of.
Former captain Lothar Matthäus had also given an opinion on the current situation when talking to Sky. “It’s not Bayern-like, there will be headlines, there will also be discussions in the club. “There was unrest before, it won’t calm you down. Overall, Bayern are far behind expectations in the Bundesliga.”
Yes, they are far behind expectations, but that’s because expectations are always sky high at the Allianz Arena and even a draw is unacceptable. Coach Julian Nagelsmann will however start to come under increased scrutiny if the current trend continues. The famously difficult second season at Bayern is upon him after securing the title in his debut campaign. Remember- Nico Kovac won the double in his first season, only to be sacked in the November of a troubled second season.
“We had a lot of chances. We wasted a lot of presentable opportunities; we were too lax in the final third” Nagelsmann explained at the post-match press conference. “Augsburg played with real courage, they pushed everyone forward. We conceded, and from then on it was tough. We just wasted loads of chances. At the end of the day, we’ve not been picking up enough points. We’ve had plenty of chances to win.”
This is not a crisis, but the seeds of one are blowing in the wind looking for a fertile place to germinate. The Allianz Arena and Sabener Strasse as we know are very fertile places for ‘crisis seeds’ to germinate and grow into a full-blown crisis. The fact that Chelsea also sacked Thomas Tuchel and a world-class coach is on the market will also be a seed germinating in the back of Oliver Kahn and Hasan Salihamidzic’s heads.
If Sadio Mané, Thomas Müller, Leroy Sané, Serge Gnabry and Jamal Musiala start converting the numerous chances that come their way, talk of crisis will be averted. If they don’t however interesting times await at Bayern.