Bay­ern deny ‘cri­sis’, host Lev­erkusen

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

BER­LIN:

Fal­ter­ing Bay­ern Mu­nich hope to break their sec­ond mini win­less streak this sea­son when they host Bayer Lev­erkusen to­day to launch their coun­ter­at­tack on top spot in Ger­many. For the first time since Septem­ber 2015, sec­ond-placed Bay­ern do not top the ta­ble at the start of a week­end of Bun­desliga fix­tures. Hav­ing won the Bun­desliga ti­tle in each of the last four sea­sons, things are cur­rently not go­ing Bay­ern’s way. New lead­ers RB Leipzig, who are at Freiburg on Fri­day, are on a record run and yet to taste de­feat in their first 11 league games to leave them three points clear of Bay­ern.

Leipzig coach Ralph Hasen­huettl ac­knowl­edged their 3-2 win at Lev­erkusen last Fri­day, to put them top, stirred up a wasps’ nest “so of course there is some buzzing” in Bay­ern. Fol­low­ing their home draw with Hof­fen­heim, nar­row de­feat at Borus­sia Dort­mund and 3-2 loss at Rus­sia’s Ros­tov in the Cham­pi­ons League on Wed­nes­day, Bay­ern are wob­bling. This is the sec­ond time the Bavar­ian gi­ants have gone three games with­out a win since Carlo Ancelotti took charge at the start of the sea­son. Poor de­fend­ing was at the root of their prob­lem in Ros­tov. The ten­sion around the de­fend­ing Ger­man cham­pi­ons is clear, es­pe­cially as the Ros­tov de­feat ended their hopes of win­ning their Cham­pi­ons League group.

‘A cir­cus’

“It’s use­less to make a cir­cus out of things now,” fumed chair­man Karl-Heinz Rum­menigge af­ter the loss in Ros­tov. “We have to do things bet­ter, es­pe­cially in to­day’s next game against Bayer Lev­erkusen.” Captain Philipp Lahm de­nies Bay­ern are in cri­sis, but “at he mo­ment we are a bit care­less and mak­ing too many mis­takes. “We don’t seem to know that our op­po­nents can also score and will pun­ish our mis­takes,” he added, be­mused. Bay­ern are wait­ing on the fit­ness of de­fender Jerome Boateng.

The Ger­many cen­tre-back suf­fered a thigh in­jury in Ros­tov and was crit­i­cized by Rum­menigge for a poor dis­play, but the whole Bay­ern de­fense is cur­rently shaky. Hav­ing served time in jail for tax eva­sion, Uli Hoe­ness is set to be re-elected as Bay­ern pres­i­dent. The out-spo­ken Hoe­ness wants to put Bay­ern back on the at­tack and the 64-year-old will have plenty to say if re­sults do not im­prove. Lev­erkusen are buoyed from their mid­week Cham­pi­ons League draw at CSKA Moscow which means they progress at the ex­pense to the last 16 at the ex­pense of Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur. The sides drew 0-0 in Lev­erkusen in Fe­bru­ary on their pre­vi­ous meet­ing and it is four years since Bayer last poached a win in Mu­nich.

Reus re­turns

Third-placed Dort­mund are at Ein­tra­cht Frank­furt hav­ing wel­comed back Ger­many winger Marco Reus, who led the scor­ing in their record 8-4 drub­bing of Le­gia War­saw on Tues­day. Coach Thomas Tuchel, who made nine changes for the side which beat Bay­ern, has a few de­fen­sive frail­ties to fix. Antony Modeste, the league’s joint top scorer with 12 goals along­side Dort­mund’s Pierre-Em­er­ick Aubameyang, will look to add to his tally for fourth-placed Cologne against. Augs­burg. Fifth-placed Hof­fen­heim, who along with RB Leipzig, are still unbeaten this sea­son, are at Borus­sia Moenchenglad­bach, who are 13th. Glad­bach held Manch­ester City to a 1-1 draw on Wed­nes­day which ended their Cham­pi­ons League hopes and booked their pas­sage into the Europa League. —AFP

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