Why Bayern Munich will not win the Champions League
Bayern Munich have had a straightforward route to the latter stages of the Champions League but they will not go all the way.
Bayern Munich are used to having things their own way domestically. Last weekend, they tied up their sixth consecutive Bundesliga title with a typically convincing 4-1 away win over Augsburg to continue their domination in Germany.
Even in the transfer market, they seem to hoover up any young talent that could pose a threat from another German team. The Champions League, however, is not so simple.
Even though they’ve flown through the competition so far, it is not a certainty that the German giants will make it through to the final and run out winners.
Here are some reasons why…
On the Jupp
In late September, Bayern were third in the Bundesliga and had lost a Champions League group stage match 3-0 to Paris Saint Germain: a crisis by their high standards.
As a result, manager Carlo Ancelotti received his marching orders and former coach Jupp Heynckes was drafted in to restore the Bundesliga’s natural order.
Of course, Bayern’s opponents eventually faltered and the team from Bavaria now look as dominant as ever, hammering Borussia Dortmund 6-0 in Der Klassiker last month. They also have a DFB Pokal semifinal against Bayer Leverkusen to look forward too in a few weeks.
They now face Sevilla in the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal, taking a 2-1 lead from the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium. Qualification to the next stage of the competition should be straightforward.
Don’t expect things to go all their way in the competition, though, should they progress.
Domestic domination: a poisoned chalice
Bayern Munich’s lack of challenge in Germany poses a problem for them in Europe.
Winning the league year on year is a true poisoned chalice and one from which they are not the only sufferers. Paris Saint Germain face little competition in Ligue 1, and their season revolves around European glory. PSG breezed through the group stages but were promptly shut down by holders Real Madrid in the round of 16, with little to offer against Los Blancos.
Barring PSG, Heynckes and Co. have been overwhelming favourites for all of their fixtures. Two fortuitous knockout draws have seen them play the minnows of each round. An 8-1 aggregate victory over Besiktas shows just how routine their qualification for the quarterfinals was and taking two away goals into the second leg against Sevilla puts one foot in the semifinals already.
This Bayern Munich team is untested against quality opposition in the last 12 months. Their revenge over PSG in the group stage of the Champions League came when the Parisians had already qualified for the knockout stage and felt a hollow victory.
Having been bested by a team who later were dismantled by Real Madrid, Bayern should be worried about the next round of the draw, as they are likely to face one of the two Spanish giants or a scintillating Liverpool attack.
It’ll be Ulreich on the night
As Manuel Neuer recovers from a foot injury which has kept him out most of the season, Sven Ulreich has been deputising for the club captain.
Take nothing away from Ulreich, he has contributed to the meanest defence in the Bundesliga, as Bayern have conceded just 21 goals this season. Once again, though, this comes down to the quality of the teams who Bayern have played.
In the Champions League, Ulreich has kept only two clean sheets in eight appearances. As they prepare to face strike forces including Ronaldo and Messi, it will be even tougher to shut out the opposition.
With Neuer being the club captain and a strong personality in the dressing room, his absence will be felt even harder. Does Bayern have leaders in their team to step up to the plate when times are tough?
In good news for the Bavarians, Neuer returned to training in the last few weeks and could make his return before the end of the season. His reappearance could be the make or break factor for Bayern.
2017-18 has been a great year for Robert Lewandowski. He became Poland’s highest ever goalscorer, surpassing the record of 48 goals in October with a hat trick against Estonia. Lewandowski also entered the top ten Bundesliga goalscorers of all time and will look to climb even higher up the rankings before the season’s end.
This season, he has impressively netted 31 times. However, there is a danger that Bayern are over-reliant on his goals; only Thomas Muller, with 10, has reached double figures for the club this campaign alongside the Pole. Bayern’s third highest goalscorer is defensive midfielder Corentin Tolisso.
Bayern’s attack is far from toothless. They have scored 19 more goals than any other side in the division. In a knockout tournament such as the Champions League, though, all it takes is one or two poor performances before elimination.
If a team can shut out Lewandowski, Bayern lack players who will stand up and be counted in front of goal.
Bayern Munich are one of the most decorated teams in Europe, but history counts for nothing at this stage. They should ease past Sevilla on Wednesday night, but the semifinals will prove to be a step too far.
Whoever they face in the last four, it will be a challenge unlike any they have faced since Carlo Ancelotti’s last match when a fired up PSG tamed the German champions.
What do you think? Will Bayern Munich win the Champions League?