Misfiring Mane headlines Bayern’s woes ahead of Leverkusen clash
Bayern Munich’s history of success in German football can often see the term “crisis” thrown around the moment points are dropped, but with the team sitting fifth in the Bundesliga after seven games, there is little doubt all is not well.
Bayern host Bayer Leverkusen on Friday night winless since mid-August, an unfamiliar position for a club which is vying for 11 titles in a row.
Bayern’s struggles are mirrored by those of the misfiring Sadio Mane, with the summer arrival goalless in five matches after scoring five times in his opening six games.
Sporting Director Hasan Salihamidzic has backed the summer arrival to rekindle his early season form, saying the former Liverpool striker “needs a bit of time to get used to the Bundesliga”.
“I know what it’s like to arrive as a newcomer in a team, in another country, another city, a slightly different football culture,” Salihamidzic, who moved from his native Bosnia to play for Hamburg as a 15-year-old, told Germany’s Sportbild.
“Sadio is in this process, everything will soon be more familiar to him and we will soon see that on the pitch.”
Bayern president Herbert Hainer promised on Wednesday “we’ll see a whole different team on Friday – and a winning team too”, saying his side “will step on the gas” against the visiting Leverkusen.
Munich’s opponents on Friday are also going through a rough patch, with the visitors having won just one from seven to start the season to sit in 15th alongside an early German Cup exit.
Munich manager Julian Nagelsmann hailed as a potential 10-year coach at the club even before winning the Bundesliga title last year, is going through the toughest time, overseeing Bayern’s longest winless run in more than two decades.
Never a good omen, Salihamidzic told the media on Wednesday that Nagelsmann “is under no internal pressure at all” at the club despite the team sitting five points behind leaders Union Berlin.
However, the looming presence of the suddenly jobless Thomas Tuchel – born just an hour away in the Bavarian town of Kulmbach – will give the trigger-happy Munich hierarchy plenty to think about.
One to watch: Urs Fischer (Union Berlin)
Typical of the Swiss coach’s understated nature, Fischer extended his contract with Union Berlin on Wednesday to limited fanfare.
Fischer, who extended for an undisclosed period alongside assistant coach Markus Hoffmann, took over Union in the summer of 2018, with the never-promoted club sitting in the middle of the second division.
Fischer, who won the Swiss league twice and the cup once with Basel, took Union to the first division in his first season in charge, before guiding them to 11th, seventh and fifth in subsequent top-flight seasons.
After seven matchdays, Union currently sit first in the Bundesliga table.
“What we have been able to experience together over the last few years is incredible,” said Fischer.
“I find it hard to put into words. As I have often said, I feel very much at home at Union.”
Union Berlin play away at Frankfurt on Saturday afternoon.
Three in four – Bayern Munich have only won three points from their last four games – the first time that has happened in 21 years.
Zero – The amount of German titles won by Bayer Leverkusen in their history. They’ve been second on five occasions (1996–97, 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2001–02, 2010–11) and also lost the 2002 Champions League final to Real Madrid.
19 March, 2022 – The last time top-of-the-table Union Berlin lost a Bundesliga match, going down 4-0 away at Bayern Munich. They are the only unbeaten side in this year’s Bundesliga.
Fixtures (all times 1330 GMT unless stated)
Bayern Munich v Bayer Leverkusen (1830)
Freiburg v Mainz, Cologne v Borussia Dortmund, Wolfsburg v Stuttgart, Eintracht Frankfurt v Union Berlin, RB Leipzig v Bochum, Werder Bremen v Borussia Mönchengladbach (1630)
Hertha Berlin v Hoffenheim (1530), Schalke v Augsburg (1730)