Monday, January 25, 2021

Bundesliga: Title is Bayern’s to lose

Yesterday, Bayern Munich marked the resumption of the Bundesliga with a comfortable 2-0 win over Union Berlin in the German capital. Goals from Benjamin Pavard and Robert Lewandowski were enough to seal all three points for the Bavarians and, despite some tough games ahead, the title is very much in their own hands.

On Saturday, Borussia Dortmund had cut the gap at the top to just a single point having beaten local rivals Schalke 4-0 in the Revierderby. Bayern didn’t seem to be too bothered by the pressure and didn’t really have to get out of second gear to win their match on Sunday evening.

Incredible form under Flick

Since Hansi Flick took over, Bayern have been damn near unstoppable. A couple of shaky games to begin with are in the very distant past now as Bayern Munich haven’t lost a Bundesliga game since December 7th.

They went to BORUSSIA-PARK and went home empty handed but, since then, they’ve been incredible. Bayern have dropped just two points since early December, winning 11 of their 12 Bundesliga games and only dropping points to RB Leipzig in a goalless draw at the Allianz back in early February.

Bayern boss Hansi Flick
Bayern boss Hansi Flick has enjoyed a very decent first half season in charge of the German champions

There were questions that the COVID enforced break may have disrupted Bayern’s rhythm, but a comfortable win against Union yesterday showed Bayern have no such worries.

Initially, Flick had been put in charge on a temporary basis after the sacking of Niko Kovac. After a good start, winning his first four games in all competitions, he was awarded a deal until the end of the season. As a result of their amazing run from December to now, Flick has been given a permanent deal which will see him stay on as manager until June 2023.

Can Bayern continue it?

In their coming fixtures, Bayern have a few really big tests to see just whether or not their squad have the mettle to go and win an eighth consecutive Bundesliga title.

Next week, Bayern host Eintracht Frankfurt – who pose some decent opposition to anybody on their day. With the likes of Filip Kostic and Andre Silva in the team, they are dangerous – as Bayern found out earlier in the season when they lost 5-1 at the Commerzbank Arena in what would turn out to be the final straw in Niko Kovac’s reign – he was sacked a day later.

As a result, the Bayern squad will no doubt have the bit between their teeth to go and pick up a result in this game. Frankfurt humiliated them earlier in the season and their poor performance got their boss sacked – so they’ll want to get a result not just for themselves, but for Kovac too.

A week later, they face the game which often proves to be their toughest test of the season when they take a trip to Signal Iduna Park to take on their title rivals Dortmund. That game could have some huge consequences for the title race and you’d think, if Bayern can beat Frankfurt and then go and get a result here too – they’re a sure thing to win the title.

Earlier in the season, they battered Dortmund 4-0 in Flick’s first Bundesliga match in charge of the first team. Dortmund put in a great performance against Schalke yesterday and were in good form pre-lockdown, so I expect that was merely an anomaly and this one will be much tighter.

After Dortmund, Bayern host relegation threatened Fortuna Dusseldorf in a game they should absolutely win but, given Dusseldorf are fighting for their life right now, it’s another potential banana-skin.

A week later, Flick’s men have to go to Leverkusen to take on Bayer 04 in a game which will absolutely be another huge test. Leverkusen have a team full of stars in the likes of Kai Havertz, Leon Bailey and Nadiem Amiri – so will absolutely cause Bayern problems. It’s also worth noting that Leverkusen beat Bayern earlier in the year, picking up a 2-1 win at the Allianz – inflicting Hansi Flick’s first defeat as Bayern boss.

Let’s not forget that Leverkusen are still just about on the edge of the title race too. They currently sit in fifth position, 11 points behind Bayern with a game in hand. They take on Werder Bremen in a Monday Night Football clash that should be a very interesting watch.

All-in-all, Bayern have four tough games on the horizon and, if they can manage to come through them unscathed, the title should be within their grasp. The game against Dortmund has every chance to be a monumental occasion for both teams and they’ll no doubt have one eye on events at each other’s stadiums next week in preparation.

To be honest, I am kind of hoping Bayern drop points to Frankfurt next week to make Der Klassiker that little bit more poignant. An exciting title race lies ahead and, we mustn’t forget Monchengladbach and Leipzig in that conversation too. Bayern still have to face Gladbach again this season, so it’s going to be far from easy for the champions to retain their title.

Despite that, the title is still in their own hands. With a four point gap at the top of the table, they are the clear favourites to claim the league once more this year – but they need to stay focused.

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