Are Bayern Munich set for their worst season in over a decade?
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Are Bayern Munich set for their worst season in over a decade?

Mar 5, 2024
Thomas Tuchel reacts to an official during a match
Bayern Munich have won one of their last five games in all competitions

Serial winners. Germany’s reigning champions. Rulers of Europe on six occasions.

Yet Bayern Munich find themselves on unfamiliar ground, 10 points adrift of Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen, as they chase a 12th consecutive German title.

Outgoing manager Thomas Tuchel has reportedly singled out dissenting starsexternal-link in what appears an unhappy dressing room and a second-leg rescue act will be required to advance past Lazio in the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday.

The Bavarians also began the campaign with a German Super Cup defeat and were embarrassingly knocked out of the German Cup by third-tier Saarbrucken in November.

And, in February, their Germany midfielder Leon Goretzka described the current campaign as being like “a horror movie that won’t end”.

So are Germany’s biggest club heading for their worst season for over a decade or is this a blip they can recover from?

Bayern’s blues

Bayern Munich players running during training
Bayern are on a run of 11 straight league titles but are in danger of their first title-less season since 2012

The statistics suggest that Bayern’s domestic invincibility is about to come to an end.

No team has ever made up a 10-point deficit to claim the German league title and it is a gap that, if anything, only appears to be widening, with Bayern having won only one of their past four matches.

Bayern have averaged almost one loss in every four games (11 of 46) under Tuchel and recently slipped to defeat in three successive matches in all competitions for the first time in almost nine years.

Tuchel’s record of losing 24% of his matches as Bayern boss is also the worst percentage since Soren Lerby was at the helm (1991-92), with the Dane seeing his side defeated in 41% of his fixtures in charge.

Former Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund boss Tuchel also has the lowest win percentage (63%) since Louis van Gaal (2009-11) presided over team affairs and managed 61%.

Under the 50-year-old, Bayern have also lost five and won one just once in knockout matches – an ominous sign before Tuesday’s second leg with Lazio.

‘The pressure is normal’

Despite the numbers, Tuchel has played down suggestions that an early Champions League exit could hasten his departure.

When asked whether the match could prove a “knockout game” for him personally as well as the team, he said: “Not from my side. Maybe from other sides but what we did discuss and decided is what we communicated on.

“I think everyone is aware that it is important and obviously in a situation like that, a certain amount of pressure is to be expected.

“With the first-leg result, it is not going to be super easy. The pressure is normal and the pressure is needed to bring special performances.

“Obviously the situation is clear. We need to win with two goals more against an Italian team, against a [Maurizio] Sarri team.

“It is about what we can bring to the pitch and the fans are there to support us from the first minute to hopefully create a specific atmosphere that could lead us to win with two goals.”

Kane’s trophy drought set to continue?

Thomas Tuchel and Harry Kane during training
Thomas Tuchel signed Harry Kane from Tottenham last summer

Harry Kane, who is England’s all-time leading scorer with 62 international goals and was the top scorer at the 2018 World Cup, has never won a major trophy with club or country.

So his summer move to Germany was designed to remedy that situation and guarantee Bayern even more domestic silverware while improving their European prospects.

However, things have not gone plan, even if the 30-year-old has enjoyed a fine personal campaign so far – with 27 goals in the Bundesliga and 31 in all competitions.

His debut came in a 3-0 defeat by RB Leipzig in the German Super Cup and Bayern’s German Cup defeat has given him one less opportunity to gain a winner’s medal.

Given they now have to bridge a significant gap in the Bundesliga, Bayern’s fixture against Lazio, a team with no real Champions League pedigree, has taken on added significance if they are to avoid a first season without a trophy since 2011-12.

Can Bayern bounce back?

When Bayern last went through a season without a trophy, Jupp Heynckes retained his job as manager and guided them to the treble the following season with arguably the club’s greatest side of recent times.

With Tuchel’s contract being cut short by 12 months, he is up against it in terms of leaving Germany’s greatest club in a blaze of glory this summer.

However, defender Matthijs de Ligt says “we players are responsible” and that Bayern’s performances – and results – have not all been down to the manager.

“We do everything together,” said De Ligt. “When the coach has to go, then we also have to say we didn’t do well.

“We’re in this spell together and have to come out of it together. That’s why tomorrow [Tuesday] is a hugely important game.

“Tomorrow is very important for us, for the whole club. We’re in a tough spot in the Bundesliga. The Champions League is also very important for us. We need to be ready.

“If you reach the quarter-finals, it’s good for the whole season, gives you energy. That’s why it’s a very important game for us.”.

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