Are Bayern Munich really on ‘the edge of a crisis’?
There is no greater example of that overused Germanicism “Schadenfreude” than the unadulterated glee with which Germany greets the misfortunes of FC Bayern. This month has been no exception: four points from a possible nine, the surrender of first place, and an impending cup tie against a Stuttgart side whose equally unimpressive form is irrelevant, and the media proudly proclaims that Bayern are on “the edge of a crisis”.
The official Party line in Munich – as propagated by Christian Nerlinger and Manuel Neuer – is that the team is “obviously under pressure”. For the Bayern players of yesteryear, it is very much a personnel issue. Olaf Thon has dismissed star wingers Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben as “lazy prima donnas”, and Mario Basler has bluntly declared that “Robben must go”. Among Basler’s other wise aphorisms of late has been the assertion in his column for “Bild” that he would “rather watch Raúl play football than see Heidi Klum naked”; it is unlikely that his categorical condemnation of Bayern’s Dutch forward will be taken too seriously by his former employers.
Where FC Bayern are concerned, it is insanity to talk of crises as early as February. The fact remains that, despite their recent form, the club are only two points behind leaders Dortmund, and have their eyes still very firmly fixed on the historically elusive Treble.
As for their being under pressure, it is just about the default setting on the Säbener Straße. Few other teams in Europe demand success in the same manner as FC Bayern, and few other teams are as incessantly successful as a result. One dry patch in early 2012, though, has been enough to provoke the most acidic tongues into action. The fun that is to be had at their expense far eclipses the voice of reason which calmly points to Bayern’s eternal partiality to timely returns to form.
Form is temporary, and class is permanent, as the cliché goes. If Bayern’s potency has to be called into question, it is, rather unnervingly, Franck Ribéry’s lead which we should be following. In a rare moment of genuine The French international criticised his side’s relatively shallow squad, and the apparent failure to address the issue in the transfer window.
Where Real can bring on the likes of Kaká and Gonzálo Higuaín, FCB have the promising but incomplete former Cottbus striker Nils Petersen. Where Barcelona have the luxury of Cesc Fábregas or Javier Mascherano as replacement midfielders, Bayern must make do with the likes of Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and Luiz Gustavo. If Bayern are to realise their European dream this year, they will only do so with a fully fit first eleven. The failure to attract Marco Reus to the Allianz Arena was a notable set back, and one which perhaps highlights the effect the current Dortmund side are having on the perception of Bayern as the only club which guarantees success.
Inactivity in the transfer window is not a cardinal sin, however, and nor is it uncharacteristic of the modern FC Bayern. The situation last season was considerably stickier than the one they find themselves in now, and was greeted only with the signing of Gustavo from Hoffenheim.
With the likes of Reus and Robert Lewandowski now explicitly asking why they should be expected to choose Bayern over Dortmund, a shift in power – at least to some sort of duopoly – is undoubtedly on the cards. Jürgen Klopp’s side are, on current form, the most likely to break the Bayern’s iron grip on the rest of the league in the long run. But there remains something just a little bit childish about the way even the most hated of German clubs is being subjected to talk of crisis and despair after merely three league games in 2012.Tagged in: arjen robben, bayern munich, Bundesliga, Frank Ribery, Manuel Neuer
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