Pondering whether Bayern Munich is in danger of becoming a ‘flat-track bully.’
In cricket the phrase ‘flat-track bully’ is often used to describe a batsman who performs well on slow, flat pitches. Cricket? I hear your dismay, stay with me on this. In football we can use this term to describe a player or team that plays well against ‘lesser’ players or sides. Bayern often excel against weaker opposition. The Reds’ recent history is littered with drubbings where the record German champions have simply overpowered lesser sides.
Also-rans Stuttgart, Düsseldorf and Hanover have all felt the force of the Bayern machine in the Bundesliga this campaign and were steamrollered by five goal margins, whilst an average Lille side were dismantled 6-1 in the Champions League.
Last season, Hoffenheim, Hertha Berlin, Freiburg and Hamburg were all dispatched in comprehensive fashion. Swiss ‘minnows’ Basel were on the receiving end of a 7-0 mullering in Europe’s elite competition.
Bayern built their reputation in their glory years on scoring late goals (similar to Manchester United in the Premier League) and having a big-game mentality. Add a proportion of ‘Bayern-Dusel’ (luck) to the mix and you had a potent trophy winning formula.
The current reality is that the Bavarians haven’t won a trophy since 2010 and have failed to beat last season’s double winners Borussia Dortmund in six competitive games. This season the Reds have already succumbed at home to their nearest challengers in the table, Bayer Leverkusen.
Despite completely dominating the 2012 Champions League final at the Allianz Arena, Bayern failed to see off a pretty inept Chelsea side. The ‘Finale Dahoam’ (Home Final) turned into more of a Home Fiasco. Bayern squandered three match points in their own backyard against Chelsea – throwing away a lead in the final minutes after the opposition’s only corner, Arjen Robben’s tame extra-time back pass – sorry missed penalty – and then the ultimate heartache of the penalty shoot-out loss, where several Bayern players (Toni Kroos, Anatoli Timoschtschuk and Robben) refused to take a penalty as their nerves failed them.
In my view, all this indicates a soft underbelly – bordering on a big-match phobia – at Bayern.
Coach Jupp Heynckes should end Bayern’s trophy drought this year with a Bundesliga title in his final season at the helm. However, the 67-year-old admitted the lack of silverware is “not acceptable given the club’s ambitions and expectations.”
Given their dominance against the rest of the Bundesliga, Germany’s most successful club side will even have the luxury of potentially losing to both Bayer and BVB in the run-in and still claim some elusive silverware. Evidence perhaps that the track is particularly flat in the Bundesliga.
Header courtesy of Reuters