Bayern Munich may have had their ups and downs this season, but sporting director Hasan “Brazzo” Salihamidžić knows it’s an unusual season with unique and peculiar challenges.
“In this extraordinarily demanding season with a world cup in the middle, only teams that find a rhythm as a whole squad, that develop their rotation style and push themselves as a unit have a chance of winning titles. ” he said in a Bild interview last month (via @iMiaSanMia).
At the time he uttered those phrases, the Rekordmeister were in the midst of a slump, and on the precipice of a crisis. They had just lost to Augsburg — not the best way to head into an international break — and questions were swirling about manager Julian Nagelsmann and his ability to get everybody firing on all cylinders.
Fast forward to now, and Brazzo would seem to have been thoroughly vindicated.
“Our players have quality, mentality and character, they want and will show that,” he said at the time. “We will show a different face after the international break. And I expect that too.”
So the sporting director prescribed, and so Nagelsmann delivered. He’s hit a stretch where he has lost key players at various times — including team captains Thomas Müller and Manuel Neuer, and magic men Jamal Musiala and Leroy Sané.
But musical chairs or not, Bayern have blasted through their slate after the September international break — a 5-2 DFB-Pokal smashing of Augsburg and an emphatic 3-0 Champions League win over FC Barcelona among them. They are simply roaring down the stretch to the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup.
That tournament will provide its own challenges for the Rückrunde, as so many among Bayern's already battered roster will expect to feature heavily for their national teams. And there is time yet for the mood to spoiled before it comes around.
But those are questions for another day. For now, Bayern would do well to keep the pedal to the metal, and heed the advice that’s gotten them here.
As Brazzo aptly forecasted, Bayern’s recipe for resurgence required this: “Physical intensity, hunger and the willingness to push yourself to the limit in every game...[and] much better, more focused chance conversion.”
Keep at it, boys.