Even as German champions, FC Bayern still have numerous problems

Findings on the championship: Even after the title triumph, FC Bayern still have three central problems.

Yesterday, Saturday, FC Bayern celebrated a 2-1 last-minute win at 1. FC Köln and was crowned German Champion 2023! The Munich Schützenhilfe received support from 1. FSV Mainz 05, who wrested a 2-2 draw from Borussia Dortmund in the parallel game. The 2022/23 season is now ending with a sporting “happy ending”, but the problems on and off the pitch shouldn’t get any smaller for the time being. Three insights into the away win in Cologne.

1. Things are getting tight at Bayern for Goretzka and Mané

Since Thomas Tuchel took office, Leon Goretzka is no longer one of the undisputed regular players on the Isar. The German national player has to deal with strong fluctuations in performance. Basically, the entire Munich midfield, the heart of FC Bayern, around long-running favorite Joshua Kimmich, is currently under criticism, as they recently broke up completely after setbacks such as the defeat against RB Leipzig (1: 3).

Goretzka was unable to stabilize the Bavarian game with his physical presence, so Tuchel recently increasingly resorted to alternatives such as Ryan Gravenberch. This was also the case in the decisive season finale at 1. FC Köln. Bayern coach Tuchel again chose Gravenberch alongside Kimmich in midfield and Goretzka had to sit on the bench for the time being.

However, the German national player (71st minute) got his chance in a phase of the game in which the game threatened to tip over again, as Cologne equalized in the meantime. In order to make the big title dreams come true, Bayern still needed the winning goal, so that the team reacted again. Goretzka’s working day was over after less than 15 minutes, as Tuchel brought in another striker in Mathys Tel.

After the final whistle, the 49-year-old commented on the change in personnel and spoke of a “horror decision” against Goretzka, to which he apologized directly. Sadio Mané had a similar experience at the season finale in Cologne. The Senegalese currently does not play a major sporting role under Bayern coach Tuchel and did not collect any minutes of action in Cologne.

The season finale showed that both Leon Goretzka and Sadio Mané are not first choice in an all or nothing game. In addition, the playing times, especially for the German international, could be further reduced if Bayern were to sign another midfielder in addition to Konrad Laimer.

2. Season finale symbolic of Bavaria’s season – on and off the pitch

In a highly dramatic season finale, the first half went completely in the direction of FC Bayern. The Munich team took the lead early on through Coman (9th) and in the parallel game Dortmund fell two goals behind against Mainz. However, it remained very exciting in both games until the final whistle, which was also due to the playful inability of the German record champions.

Because after a good initial phase, Bayern lost control of the game, as so often this season, and failed to score a second goal. Instead, they conceded (again!) an avoidable penalty against themselves. Once again, the Munich team hadn’t managed to manage a game. Rather, their own game became more and more faulty in the course of the second round and the “worst-case scenario” threatened, since the title could have been lost again on the home stretch after the Leipzig game.

Unlike in the last few weeks, Bayern were able to recover from the setback (1-1 in the 81st minute) this time and still celebrated victory in the last few minutes. After the final whistle, both the players around Thomas Müller and coach Thomas Tuchel noticed that this game is symbolic of the most recent achievements in the past few weeks – with the difference that this time there was a “happy ending”.

But not only the course of the game has been a symbol for the past few weeks. After the controversial Nagelsmann release, the next personal earthquake followed next to the pitch. Immediately after the final whistle, a message was made public that Bayern boss Oliver Kahn and sports director Hasan Salihamidzic would be relieved of their duties, which the Munich team officially announced a little later. Winning the German championship quickly faded into the background and everyone was talking about the leadership tremor.

Yesterday’s season finale was a reflection of the entire Bayern season. Both on and off the pitch, the record champions once again lacked the necessary sensitivity.

3. Bayern need a complete restart

A memorable season for FC Bayern comes to an end with winning the German championship. Even if Bayern was able to achieve a goal for the season at the end, a restart is required for the new season. Off the pitch in particular, the club’s image has suffered enormously due to questionable personnel decisions.

The first consequences were already announced immediately after the final whistle, which were to be expected, but once again a communicative disaster. After the quake in the management floor, FC Bayern faces groundbreaking weeks and months. In particular, the dismissal of sports director Salihamidzic is likely to have an impact, since, among other things, the squad planning for the next season was in full swing under his leadership. Who will take on this major task permanently in the future is still completely open.

Accordingly, the summer break comes at the right time for everyone involved to let what happened sink in first. Or as coach Tuchel said exhausted after the final whistle: “There is a lot that everyone involved has to digest. We have a political issue in the club that clouds this extreme championship and willpower a bit. Nevertheless, it will not be a season that we can be satisfied with.”

Jean Harris

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