The frustration was enormous. Almost all FC Bayern players left the Munich stadium without a word on Saturday evening.
Access Matthijs de Ligt and Serge Gnabry were looking for musical distraction after the disappointing 2-2 (1-0) win against VfB Stuttgart and attended the concert by British superstar Ed Sheeran in the Olympic Stadium, the former home of the record German soccer champions.
It was Munich’s third Bundesliga draw in a row, a perceived defeat. Bayern are in a earnings crisis. The fans had expected a win against 1. FC Union Berlin (1-1) a week ago and against Stuttgart, three out of a possible nine points is a record that is not Bayern-like.
Twelve points from the first six league games – it is the champions’ worst start to the season since the 2010/2011 season. Back then, Bayern had only eight points from their first six games, losing under coach Louis van Gaal at 1. FC Kaiserslautern and against 1. FSV Mainz. At the end of the season they didn’t even finish second in the table.
“Today I’m angry for the first time this season – angry at ourselves,” said world champion Thomas Müller on Sky. “Today, for the first time, I have the feeling that we gave something away. I have a nice tie.” Every player has to “take a good look at your own nose, I think we have to understand: if we want to win every game, you have to go to the end and stay bilious to the end.”
The first half against VfB was Bayern’s weakest this season, and there was a lack of consistency in the second half, both offensively and defensively. They had many moments and phases in their game that were not sovereign and allowed Stuttgart to equalize in added time.
They had led twice. Alphonso Davies’ pass to Jamal Musiala, which led to VfB’s 1-1 draw, is an example of Bayern’s negligence. And a Gnabrys degree. “We have to score the third goal, then the game is over,” said coach Julian Nagelsmann.
Of course, the thesis came up in the stadium: Bayern would have won this game with Robert Lewandowski! Tuesday (9 p.m., Amazon Prime Video) Bayern welcome FC Barcelona in the Champions League, it is the first meeting with the world footballer since he moved to Spain a few weeks ago.
Lewandowski was rested 57 minutes in Barcelona’s 4-0 win over FC Cadiz. After being substituted on, he made it 2-0 and prepared two goals. His top rate for Barcelona: nine goals in six games. “We had enough chances to score a third goal,” said Nagelsmann, who gave Sadio Mane and Leroy Sané a break and did not start.
“Similar to Gladbach. We also had four situations against Union where we had to score an extra goal. Against Stuttgart we had two free shots from 16 meters in the first half, which we shot over. In the second half there were three of them and one in a one-on-one on the goalkeeper.”
The anticipation of the “huge game” against Barcelona, as national player Gnabry called the top game in the Champions League, was severely dampened during the dress rehearsal. The mood in Munich could change shortly before the start of the Oktoberfest next weekend.
“Barcelona is a top game, you want to shine. But the work has to be done in the Bundesliga,” Müller admonished his colleagues. “It’s a warning to us. We have to realize that we have to deliver points in the Bundesliga.”
Despite missing three wins in a row, Bayern initially stayed top of the table on Saturday. Proof of what the Bundesliga lacks: a constant pursuer from Munich. Borussia Dortmund lost 0: 3 at RB Leipzig, of all things against the former BVB coach Marco Rose, for whom it was the first game as coach of the Saxons.
“It was a bad game from us, almost nothing worked out,” said Dortmund midfielder Julian Brandt: “It was wild. Lots of ball losses, little good on our side.”
Bayern know that they still need to improve urgently. Although Dortmund is weakening and Bayer Leverkusen will probably not be a threat to them this season either. “Of course there are six points that we are missing. That’s at least four too many,” said sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic about the many recent draws: “We’ve been warned.” However, it’s still very early in the season. “Nothing happened there yet.”
Bayern’s bright spot this weekend was Mathys Tel. Nagelsmann let the striker, signed from Stade Rennes for around 20 million euros, play from the start. The Frenchman scored 1-0 in the 36th minute and became the youngest at 17 years and 136 days Goal scorers in Bayern’s Bundesliga history.
“I am very happy to be part of the club’s history,” said Tel. The youngest goalscorer in league history remains Youssoufa Moukoko, who was 16 years and 28 days young at the time of his goal for Dortmund in December 2020. Chris Führich equalized for VfB against Bayern (57′), Musiala made it 2-1 (60′). Shortly before the end, Serhou Guirassy converted a penalty kick that de Ligt was responsible for and awarded after video evidence.
The magic of the first weeks of the season, in which Bayern were enthusiastic, is gone – at least in the Bundesliga. Nagelsmann had changed the starting eleven for the Stuttgart game to six positions. Moderating the star-studded squad, finding the right balance in terms of rotation – this is probably the biggest challenge for the coach. “He’s just finding his style. He hasn’t had a squad like that before,” said Salihamidzic on Sunday afternoon in “Sport1-Doppelpass”.
Before the game, Nagelsmann emphasized that if you put on the handbrake against Stuttgart, you could “put the parking brake on” against Barcelona. The starting eleven should change significantly again on Tuesday.
“The coach changed the team a lot, which was okay,” said Salihamidzic. The sports director: “I’d rather that we maybe play another draw than that we have a bad mood and many dissatisfied players.” He called the renewed draw a “slip.”
The next slip-up in the league should have “no effect” on his preparation for Barcelona, as coach Nagelsmann, who was visibly and audibly angry at the press conference after the 2-2 draw, emphasized.
“I approach the week the same way I would have if we had won. We’re trying to come up with a good idea for Barcelona, which will be difficult. I would have done the same if we had won 4-0.” Nagelsmann had the reservists train in the rain in Munich on Sunday morning. The starting eleven players delighted the fans with autographs.
“You don’t get anything for free,” said Salihamidzic. “It wasn’t a good game for us. That’s just not enough. There was far too little movement, too little intensity. We had a few counterattacks, definitely five or six, that we didn’t play properly. It has to get better.”
In the end, the sports director sent a clear demand to his players: “Lewa (Robert Lewandowski, ed.) uses every opportunity up front. We have to shift up two gears – even three gears against Barcelona to win the games.”