With Bayern currently under intense scrutiny following their poor run of results and the extremely tight title race, which sees Borussia Dortmund above them, reason for the decline are being sought. Coach Thomas Tuchel as well as club bosses are scratching their heads trying to figure out why Bayern are being so un-Bayern.
Quite remarkably for club that has won the last ten Bundesliga titles it seems that there is a mental factor at play that a deeper look into recent results highlights. Bayern have a problem maintaining their levels of performance in the second half of games and have dropped way too many points from seemingly winning positions.
Against Mainz on Saturday they went in at half time 1-0 up thanks to Sadio Mané’s goal and all seemed set for a much-needed three points. However, they let the Nullfünfer equalise and conceded three goals in the space of fourteen minutes to throw away the victory and hand BVB the advantage in the title race.
“There was no reason to lose the game – a game we had under control” Tuchel bemoaned after the match. “We lacked the purpose and composure to get a second goal. We conceded the equaliser out of nothing and didn’t have the energy to show a reaction. It was downhill from there as we conceded three goals in 12 minutes.
“We couldn’t get ourselves going again. When things go wrong, we find it incredibly difficult as a team to get a grip back on the game and show the spirit to turn things around and fight. We weren’t determined or effective enough to get the job done. We’re having a hard time winning games right now. We lack the energy.”
A stark admission from the Bayern trainer, but then Bayern’s Jekyll and Hyde nature in the first half of games and in second halves is a big issue for them in their current slump.
They exited the DFB Pokal against Freiburg after leading, they led Bayer Leverkusen at the Bay Arena only to conceded two second half penalties, while they have lost leads in four other matches to just take one point (Hoffenheim, RB Leipzig, Eintracht Frankfurt, Borussia Dortmund).
If the Bundesliga table was calculated solely on the first 45 minutes of matches, then Bayern would have 79 points and be 19 points ahead of title rivals Borussia Dortmund. If the second half only was considered, Bayern would be tenth in the table with 38 points with BVB eleven points ahead of them. Bayern have conceded 23 goals in the second half of matches this season compared to 10 in the first period.
The reason for this un-Bayern-like behaviour is unknown, but opposition coaches must be onto the fact. Going behind to Bayern used to mean they would go on to add to their goals tally, but nowadays opposition trainers tell their teams to get at Bayern despite being behind. There is a soft underbelly that can be exploited and when the going gets tough, Bayern don’t seem to handle it very well this season.
Legendary German national team coach Sepp Herberger once said, “the game lasts 90 mins and everything else is just theory.” Bayern at the moment are not being Bayern for 90 minutes. They are showing that in the second half of matches they are mere mortals. Dr. Jekyll appears in the first 45 minutes before his nemesis Mr. Hyde takes over in the second.