It doesn’t take much for a crisis to be declared at Bayern Munich as any deviation from perfection is seen as a failure. Their 3-0 defeat against Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday was far from perfection and the fact that they are currently five points behind the Werkself in the table is a sign that all is not well at the Allianz Arena. The fallout from the weekend defeat is still being felt with the blame game in full swing. Does the buck stop with Bayern trainer Tuchel or is it the players themselves, who need to look at themselves in the mirror?
Firstly, 50 points after matchday 21 is hardly the form of a struggling team that is way off the title pace. At the same points last season the Rekordmeister had 43 points with two losses on their record. The defeat at the Bay Arena was their third this season, but the fact that Leverkusen are setting a blistering pace makes Bayern’s current situation look worse. This is not a crisis as such, but the Bavarians are not used to playing second fiddle. Let’s call it a mini-crisis.
As expected the fallout this week has seen the scrutiny fall on Thomas Tuchel for his line-up and tactical plan, which was countered superbly by Xabi Alonso. The spotlight has fallen on the fact that as it stands, Thomas Tuchel has the lowest points per game figure of any Bayern trainer in recent seasons. His average figure of 2.12 points per game is below that of Hansi Flick (2.53), Jupp Heynckes, Pep Guardiola, Julian Nagelsmann (2.31), Carlo Ancelotti and even Niko Kovac (2.26).
The Bayern coach was clearly not happy with the loss and performance at Leverkusen and has taken the opportunity to hit out at his player’s application and performances saying he was “extremely disappointed” in the way that the players “implemented his tactical guidelines”.
Speaking after the defeat, he tried to explain the situation. “That is our responsibility. I’m also tired of saying that we’re training well. Nobody believes that anymore. I’ve been doing the job long enough to be able to judge whether the training was at the level we want it to be. This has really been the case for many weeks.
“’It was clearly not enough. For over 70 minutes I didn’t have the feeling that we were playing for victory. Afterwards I noticed it. Not until there. We were extremely static in the first half. We lost a lot of the ball, allowed a lot of counterattacks, and were sloppy in possession. Deserved defeat!’
“We didn’t play for 70 minutes like a team that wanted to force a win, that was playing for the championship, that wanted to give an answer. We only did this for twenty minutes. Twenty minutes are not enough to achieve the goals we set ourselves! That’s not what we’re signing up for here. When you sign for a club like Bayern Munich, you sign for one hundred percent. That applies to the coach, that applies to the players. We didn’t deliver that today.”
Thomas Müller seemed to echo his trainer’s words when he emotionally reacted to the Leverkusen loss at the final whistle. However, with the dust settled, other players have emerged this week with a different tone, which questions their belief in the way things are going right now.
“In general, you have to question the approach” Joshua Kimmich is quoted as saying. “You could see almost the whole game that we were too static. You don’t get the feeling that we know what it’s about!
“Especially with the situation in the table and now in the season, it is incredibly important for us that we win every game – we have to broadcast that, you have to notice that we are aggressive in the duels.”
Kimmich was only on the bench to start with- a decision that caused a few raised eyebrows considering the potential importance of the fixture in the overall title race. “In the past two weeks I did everything I could to get back quickly and play from the start. At the end of the day, the coach makes decisions that we players have to accept.”