BERLIN: Munich’s Oktoberfest is in full swing, but Germany’s most successful football club isn’t in the mood to party.
Bayern Munich are in crisis after four consecutive Bundesliga games without a win.
Doubt, uncertainty, disbelief – and anger. They have all been evident at the club since Bavarian rivals Augsburg beat Julian Nagelsmann’s star side 1-0 on Saturday.
There was low-key enthusiasm from the team and officials as they donned their traditional Bavarian outfits to visit Oktoberfest on Sunday – smiles for the cameras, but little joy.
The 10-time defending champions had started the season with flying colors, scoring 15 goals and conceding just one in their opening three games for the best start a team has ever had in the Bundesliga.
Then it stopped.
Bayern have not won since – being held to three straight draws by Borussia Mönchengladbach, Union Berlin and Stuttgart – before Saturday’s clash also ended Bayern’s goalscoring record of 87 consecutive games. Leipzig were the last team to hold Bayern scoreless in the Bundesliga on February 9, 2020.
“In the first three, four or five weeks we didn’t give our opponents a chance,” said Bayern midfielder Marcel Sabitzer, “but suddenly everything was gone.”
It’s not the first time Bayern have been hungover ahead of the annual Oktoberfest celebrations. Niko Kovac’s side lost ahead of festival visits in 2018 and 2019, while Carlo Ancelotti was let go shortly after the team’s visit in 2017. Pep Guardiola was the last Bayern manager to oversee a victory just before Oktoberfest in 2015.
The event did not take place last year or the year before due to the unpredictable development of infections and restrictions related to COVID-19.
Nagelsmann, who was expected to lead Bayern to more than “only” the Bundesliga in his second season in charge, looks bewildered, struggling for answers amid his team’s crisis.
“I have to think about everything, myself, the situation, everything,” a visibly irritated Nagelsmann said in the post-match press conference on Saturday.
Nagelsmann bristled when asked if the team was missing Robert Lewandowski, who moved to Barcelona in the offseason and continued his goalscoring career in Spain.
“That’s what I’m saying anyway,” Nagelsmann said. “If I say ‘no’, then everyone will say ‘he doesn’t know the problem’, and if I say ‘yes’, you all write ‘he misses Lewandowski.’ The answer doesn’t matter.
But it’s clear that Bayern are struggling to convert chances. The team managed 19 goals against Augsburg – including two from Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer – but it was ultimately Neuer’s counterpart Rafał Gikiewicz who celebrated several outstanding saves.
Bayern veteran Thomas Müller said he was “angry” after the third draw. After the fourth game without a win, he said, “We are stunned and devastated here. It matches the weather, it’s getting darker and darker.
Sadio Mane is criticized for the first time since joining from Liverpool. The Senegalese star scored three goals in his first three Bundesliga appearances, but none since.
There has also been speculation over Nagelsmann’s future, with some linking former Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel to the club. Tuchel is available after being dismissed by Chelsea earlier this month.
But Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn and club chairman Herbert Hainer said they supported Nagelsmann and weren’t even thinking of a change.
“We are completely convinced by Julian Nagelsmann and our entire team,” Hainer told local newspapers Münchner Merkur and TZ. “The season has just started and we know we have the potential to achieve our big goals.”
While Bayern are struggling in the Bundesliga, the team’s Champions League campaign is off to a good start after wins at Inter Milan and at home to Barcelona.
Inter defender Robin Gosens is surprised by Bayern’s domestic problems.
“When we played against Bayern, we all sat in the dressing room after the game and thought, ‘Wow, what intensity they have in their game,'” Gosens said on Monday after joining the rest of the squad. Germany team for the next internationals. “It is already the absolute highest level in Europe and in the world. They took us by surprise, passed us and showed twice as much intensity as us.
There were warning signs in Bayern’s 2-0 win over Barcelona last week, however, when the visitors created more chances and were only caught by quick goals after the break.
Then came the first defeat of the season at modest Augsburg.
The international break gives Bayern players and officials time to reflect on the situation. The next match, against Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga on September 30, will show whether it was beneficial or not.