Having already played two games since returning to domestic action after the international break, Bayern Munich now have four fixtures in the span of just eleven days as part of their pre-Halloween schedule. Thus far, the reigning champions have been doing all the “spooking”, outclassing 1. FC Düren and Arminia Bielefeld in DFB-Pokal and Bundesliga, respectively.
Coach Hansi Flick, however, wasn’t entirely satisfied with the performances. Defensive instability and momentary lapses of concentration remain an issue, with Bayern’s recent 4-1 win over Arminia a testament to this.
“The first half was close to how we imagine football to be. But we have five or six minutes where we were simply careless,” the quintuple-mastermind said in the post-match conference.
Per whoscored, Die Blauen forced Die Roten into 13 turnovers. Expressing his displeasure over silly giveaways, Flick said, “I didn’t like that very much. We have to let the ball do the running and thus save energy - and not lose the ball, win the ball again and so on.” The second the Bavarians lose the ball, they have to activate their exhausting gegenpress in order to win back possession. Thus, keeping the ball and recycling it can be critical in conserving stamina in this energy-sapping schedule.
Such issues can be fine-tuned in the training. However, the training sessions themselves have been very limited as a consequence of the quintuple winners’ jam-packed timetable.
Bayern started the 2020/21 season with a bang when they obliterated Schalke 8-0 just 26 days after winning the UEFA Champions League, reminiscent of their 8-2 quarterfinal win over FC Barcelona. However, the deep run in the European competition coupled with a coronavirus pandemic-affected footballing world meant that the Bavarians had to make do with just seven full training sessions in their preparation for the new season.
To add to the woes, the German giants are currently playing a game every 3 days. Not only the scarcely limited time for pre-game work will be a big challenge, according to Flick, rivals like Borussia Dortmund also hold an advantage over Bayern because of the ample preparation time they had before the commencement of the season.
“Certain training sessions are currently missing. Other teams like Dortmund, for example, have had six weeks of preparation. We haven’t had too much team training so far. That will be a big challenge for us,” Flick acknowledged.
Die Roten begin their Champions League title defense against Atletico Madrid at Allianz Arena on upcoming Wednesday. Besides being a resilient opposition, the Spanish giants will also arrive in Munich on the back of a longer pre-season programme. Los Rojiblancos returned to training on September 4th, after getting knocked-out by Bundesliga contenders RB Leipzig in the Champions League quarter-finals. Diego Simeone’s men kicked-off their La Liga season against Granada on September 26th, having accumulated three weeks of preparation by then.
The lack of practise could be a serious issue especially since the opponents have recently been able to counter Bayern’s ruthless counter-pressing style.
Flick nonetheless is “happy to accept the situation” and recognizes that with new signings, the Bavarians also have “more options in the squad”.