2019/20 was an unbelievable season for Bayern Munich.
The German giants won every trophy available to them, becoming treble winners for the second time in a decade. They were unstoppable.
They are unstoppable no longer, however, or so it seems. For eight Bundesliga games in a row, Bayern conceded first and just managed to avoid defeat in each. On the 8th, against Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bayern finally went ahead, taking a commanding 2-0 lead before half time. And yet they lost.
This result alone could easily be an anomaly. Slip-ups happen, and this Mönchengladbach team should not go without credit: they showed great strength to come back from 2-0 down against what was last season’s most feared team. But that is just it. Teams aren’t scared of Bayern anymore.
Before, a team would be forgiven for giving up before kick-off. If they see Bayern on the fixture list, they could field any starting eleven and still feel as though they’ve lost before a ball has been kicked. But this season, teams have started coming for them.
Yes, they’ve dropped off somewhat from the ridiculous levels they set last season, and that can be forgiven. No team could be expected to maintain that level of consistency. But this drop off has given other teams hope.
Bayern haven’t lost many this season, but you’d expect as much from a club with Robert Lewandowski at one end and Manuel Neuer at the other. Yet, at the time of writing, only five Bundesliga teams have conceded more this season, and of their ten wins, only five have been by more than one goal.
The quality within the squad is still undeniable … but they can’t just rely on the firepower they have if they can’t keep a clean sheet
And then Wednesday happened.
Having taken the lead twice in their DFB Pokal clash with 2. Bundesliga side Holstein Kiel, the match still ended 2-2, and Bayern were dumped out of the cup on penalties, their earliest exit from the competition in 20 years.
Holstien Kiel were outstanding on the night, but this is Bayern Munich, the most dominant team in the history of the Bundesliga. By their standards, this loss is unacceptable.
Despite this, Bayern are still top of the league. The quality within the squad is still undeniable and they will always win games, but they can’t just rely on the firepower they have if they can’t keep a clean sheet.
The fixture congestion has clearly taken its toll , with their high intensity pressing game from last season dropping off massively as a result. Their largest problem this season, however, is that their defence is not as solid as it once was, having conceded in 10 consecutive league games at the time of writing, even with Manuel Neuer on form between the sticks.
If Bayern want to retain their Bundesliga and Champions League crowns, they need to start scoring and putting games to bed early
Niklas Süle doesn’t look himself following that injury setback, and with Jerome Boateng and David Alaba set to leave the club when their contracts expire this summer, Bayern need to do something about their back line, and fast.
From now until the end of February, Bayern have an average of a game every four days, and with an increasing reliance on aging stars such as Neuer, Muller, and Lewandowski, it seems only a matter of time until their fuel starts to burn out.
If Bayern want to retain their Bundesliga and Champions League crowns, they need to start scoring and putting games to bed early, whilst also shutting teams out at the other end. They need to reinstate that fear factor that had their opponents resigned to defeat before the game even began, as they can’t keep pushing themselves for the full 90 minutes with the fixtures continuing to pile up.
Be it through January transfers or some changes tactically, Flick has to do something with his team, or their high standards could slip even further, and derail their season completely.