Bayern Munich are not doing so well at the moment. After going the whole of 2020 losing just a single game, the Bavarians have already suffered TWO defeats in the month of January so far. A repeat treble is already out of reach, and the club’s upcoming Champions League clash against Lazio is looking more precarious by the moment.
However, speaking to the press ahead of Sunday’s game against Freiburg, Bayern coach Hansi Flick explained why the team wasn’t performing like it used to. As per AZ, Flick blames extraordinary circumstances for the team’s slump in form. He said, “2020 was not normality for FC Bayern either.” He’s perfectly right about that, since 2020 was arguably the least normal year we’ve had in some time. Playing football in the middle of a global pandemic isn’t exactly easy.
However, there’s more to it than that. After the defeat to 2nd division Holstein Kiel in the Pokal, Flick said that the team lacked mental freshness. Now, he claims that he expected a slump this season, maybe even earlier: “I actually anticipated that we previously would have a little slump.” (Translator’s note: The word “Vorher” meaning “previously” here is weird. Maybe the verb should be “had”?) The team “put in a super push at the end of the year with a crazy mentality.”
Sounds like Flick thinks this run of form was well overdue, and Bayern had to make an incredible effort to finish 2020 the way they did. Anyone who saw our games against Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkusen know that things were far from pretty near the end. However, one big question remains unanswered.
Is Hansi Flick making excuses?
Flick doesn’t seem ready to throw in the towel just yet. He’s called on his team to be more vocal on the pitch, especially players like Thomas Muller who are known for their leadership. However, he’s also said that he doesn’t think the strategy is to blame, and continues to focus on external factors.
On the one hand, he has a point. Due to the pandemic plus the standard post-treble fixture congestion, Bayern have played an unprecedented number of games this season. If you include the UCL mini tournament back in August, this team has been playing non-stop for almost six months now, and the season’s not even halfway done. That’s gotta be mentally taxing on the players. Plus, Flick’s high-intensity pressing system was never cut out for an entire year of English weeks.
It’s not just a Bayern problem, teams around Europe are struggling. Liverpool, who have a pressing system similar to Bayern’s, have had some howlers this season — and they’re one of the better teams. Teams who have fewer fixtures are topping the league table in 4 out of the 5 top leagues. Things are definitely not “normal”.
However, Hansi Flick himself deserves a bit of criticism. He’s been unable to alter his system to find a balance between the press and traditional defending, and asks his players to do far too much off the ball. Maybe pushing the backline down a few yards could help things, or playing Lucas Hernandez more often. Far be it from me to criticize a treble winning coach, but there are still some solutions that haven’t been explored yet. Flick needs to find something that works, otherwise this “slump” could get very ugly.