It took just three matches for Carlo Ancelotti’s unprecedented perfect start to his Bayern coaching career to turn into a crisis. Their loss in Madrid and two subsequent underwhelming draws in the Bundesliga make a game against PSV Eindhoven a must-win game to get the ball rolling again.
Their 2-2 draw to Eintracht Frankfurt over the weekend got many Bayern officials out of their chairs. Club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge scolded the club’s first half performance and said they need to “shift into gear very quickly” to be ready for this Champions League tie.
Ancelotti was also candid after the game, questioning his players’ attitude. He has even required his team to stay in a hotel before the game, a tactic frequently used by Pep Guardiola to prepare his team. In Bayern’s press conference on Tuesday, the Italian coach was asked whether he will make changes to his team, to which he replied: “We need to change our attitude, not the players.”
Bayern have had complacent stretches under other coaches, but doing so against PSV would be unwise. Though they have won just once in 18 trips to Germany, PSV have shown they can be a tough team. They played Atletico Madrid to penalties in the Round of 16 last season, and they also held the Champions League finalists to one goal in September.
“We already showed a reaction in training and really stepped on the gas. And we discussed a few tactical things,” Mats Hummels said in Bayern’s press conference on Tuesday. “It also has to do with the attitude – we saw potential for improvement there.
“I think [Carlo Ancelotti] can be satisfied with what we have done the past few days.”
Bayern’s ability to close out games in recent weeks has been the most problematic. They have surrendered three leads in their last two Bundesliga games after not conceding a goal all season. But the German champions tend to show up for their fans in the Champions League – they have won the last three of their home games.
Nonetheless, Bayern have had some persisting issues that Ancelotti has yet to address. Thomas Müller has scored just one goal in all competition since the Bundesliga started in August, but Ancelotti has continued to play him in the same position for most of the season. Bayern have also been overrun in midfield a few times, but has stuck with the same characters and the same shape in the center of the park.
His methods will be put to a true test against PSV, a side that can defend well as a team. This game is the first of two crucial Champions League fixtures that will determine if Bayern can win this tough group.
Prediction: 3-1 Bayern win. Ancelotti is going to figure out how important it is to have Robert Lewandowski in the team, even when he isn’t scoring. With Franck Ribery still injured, Arjen Robben will have to energize the attacking third, something he is more than capable of doing. Hummels and Jerome Boateng are still a fragile pair at the back, but if the midfield can stand their ground, both can help transition Bayern into attack very effectively.
Bayern Munich injuries and suspension: Juan Bernat (groin), Douglas Costa (thigh), Javi Martinez (groin), Franck Ribery (muscle strain), Arturo Vidal (ligament tear)
PSV Eindhoven injuries and suspension: Jorrit Hendrix (knee), Luuk Koopmans (shoulder), Jürgen Locadia (groin)
Television and Streaming:
US: Fox Sports Cincinnati, Fox Sports Tennessee, Fox Sports Southwest, Fox Sports Midwest, Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports South, Fox Sports Arizona, Fox Sports West, Fox Sports Ohio 2, Fox Sports Florida, Fox Sports Carolinas, Fox Sports Net North, Fox Sports Detroit, Fox Deportes, MASN, MASN2, Fox Soccer 2Go
Canada: beIN Sports, beIN Sports Connect, fuboTV
UK: BT Sport Extra
Germany: ZDF, Sky Sports 1&4, Sky Go, TeleClub Sport Live