Bay­ern Mu­nich looks un­usu­ally vul­ner­a­ble as it slips from 1st place

Malta Independent - - SPORTS -

Eleven rounds into the sea­son, four-time de­fend­ing cham­pion Bay­ern Mu­nich looks un­usu­ally vul­ner­a­ble af­ter los­ing the Bundesliga lead to new­comer Leipzig.

Carlo Ancelotti’s team fell to its first de­feat of the sea­son by go­ing down 1-0 at Borus­sia Dort­mund on Satur­day and dropped three points be­hind un­de­feated Leipzig, the pro­moted team that has won six straight.

Bay­ern has won only two of its last six matches and the Ger­man pow­er­house seems to have lost some of its men­tal sharp­ness and lethal fin­ish­ing. Worse still for Bay­ern, op­po­nents are no longer wav­ing the white flag as they run onto the pitch.

“It is true, we are not quite so dom­i­nant, so su­pe­rior, as in the past few years,” de­fender Mats Hum­mels said.

Seek­ing its fifth con­sec­u­tive ti­tle - af­ter a record four straight - Bay­ern be­gan its first sea­son un­der Ancelotti with a 6-0 thump­ing of Werder Bre­men and seemed to have made a smooth tran­si­tion from Pep Guardi­ola’s style based on pos­ses­sion and tac­ti­cal dis­ci­pline.

Ev­ery­thing looked fine in the first few matches. But then came draws with Ein­tra­cht Frank­furt, Cologne and Hof­fen­heim, and fi­nally the loss in Dort­mund, the first in the Ger­man league since March. Bay­ern is not lead­ing the Bundesliga for the first time since Septem­ber 2015.

“Of course you can’t be sat­is­fied if you’re not the leader any­more and you’ve lost points,” cap­tain Philipp Lahm said, be­fore adding sar­cas­ti­cally, “but it’s nice for the league, that’s what you all were wait­ing for, no?”

It’s true that Bay­ern con­trolled many stages of the match, but could not break down Dort­mund’s dogged de­fence, which earned Thomas Tuchel’s team its first home win over Bay­ern since April 2012.

The play­ers seem to en­joy the tac­ti­cal free­dom un­der Ancelotti, but they also seem to lack the pur­pose they had un­der Guardi­ola. The Spa­niard con­stantly gave di­rec­tions and ges­tic­u­lated from the touch­line, while the grim­faced Ancelotti rarely moved dur­ing the loss in Dort­mund. The Ital­ian is mild-man­nered and has said that giv­ing in­struc­tions dur­ing a match is all but use­less since play­ers rarely lis­ten.

Bay­ern also has been hit by in­juries and the poor form of for­ward Thomas Mueller, who still has to score in the league this sea­son.

“We are play­ing a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ently, we have other pri­or­i­ties and that’s OK,” Hum­mels said.

Hum­mels thinks that Leipzig can be a se­ri­ous con­tender and that Bay­ern will not be able to march through the sea­son un­chal­lenged as in re­cent years.

“At the end, I think the ti­tle will be de­cided be­tween us and Dort­mund,” he said.

Photo: AP

Bay­ern Mu­nich man­ager Carlo Ancelotti

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