Fear of European failure haunts peerless Bayern
Their Bundesliga rivals are waving the white flag for the fourth season in a row, but fear of more Champions League failure is driving Bayern Munich on in Germany.
The Bavarian giants opened a seven-point lead in the Bundesliga table on Sunday with a 5-1 thrashing of Borussia Dortmund in Munich and it seems only a huge effort from a rival club could deny Bayern the title.
Last season’s runners-up Wolfsburg were hammered by the same scoreline a fortnight ago.
With eighth straight league wins for Pep Guardiola’s side and 28 goals scored to just four conceded, it is the best start to a season in the league’s history at this stage.
It seems foolish to suggest the title race could be over with October barely begun, but the lead has an ominous air with Bayern having won the Bundesliga by 10, 19 and 25 points respectively in the last three seasons.
The Bavarians are chasing an unprecedented fourth consecutive title and Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel gave a clear answer when asked if Bayern have serious rivals in Germany: “No, of course not.”
Dortmund were the last team to deny Bayern the Bundesliga in 2012 and Tuchel explained in detail why the Munich giants are peerless.
– greed and attitude -“It’s in everything: from the quality of the atmosphere they have created here, to the level Pep Guardiola has reached with the attitude, the greed and the decisive sharpness they showed against us.
“They are always focused, always modest and always put in a top performance.”
But Guardiola dismissed any premature talk as he targets a repeat of the 2013 treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup in the third, and possibly final, year of his contract.
“We’ll be German champions if we manage it,” said the Spaniard, who has given no clue as to his future plans.
“We have a lot of matches ahead of us and we’re only in October.”
And any of his star-studded squad dreaming of the title faces a rude awakening.
“Anyone who thinks it’s over will have big problems with the coach,” said Guardiola.
“Everyone has to give their all, if they don’t, there is someone who will be waiting to take their place.”
Veteran wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery are a case in point.
Both are currently sidelined by injuries, but in their absence Brazil winger Douglas Costa and France Under-21 talent Kingsley Coman are now shoo-ins on Bayern’s flanks.
Both were signed as Bayern were found wanting for pace out wide in the Champions League semi-finals last season when Robben and Ribery again picked up injuries.
Bayern were humbled 3-0 at Barcelona, then beat the Spaniards 3-2 in Munich before exiting at the semi-final stage for the second time under Guardiola, having bowed out to Real Madrid in 2013/14.
In both of the previous seasons, Bayern only started dropping league points after winning the title early and the lack of sharpness showed when it came to the business end of the Champions League.
Bayern are currently top of Group F after thumping wins at Olympiakos (3-0) and at home to Dinamo Zagreb (5-0) before they face bottom side Arsenal away in a fortnight.
– fear of failing -“It doesn’t matter how many points ahead we are, we need to keep working hard,” insisted Bayern’s record-setting goal-scorer Robert Lewandowski, who has scored 12 times in seven league games.
“We can’t make the same mistakes we made last year.
“We weren’t in good form at important times at the end of the season.”
While pundits are bemoaning the lack of excitement in the Bundesliga, Thomas Mueller said those complaints fall on deaf-ears in the Bayern dressing room.
“When we lose, no one is going to tap us on the shoulder and say ‘it’s great that you are making the league so exciting!’,” quipped the Germany forward.
“Therefore, we’re trying to win everything and make the league as unexciting as possible.”