With eight matches to play, Bayern Munich are currently sitting pretty atop the Bundesliga table, a couple of points ahead of second placed Borussia Dortmund. Signs are pointing towards a glorious tenth consecutive league title, a feat not yet achieved in Europe’s top five leagues. Bayern would be the first ever team to be crowned domestic champions in Europe’s elite.
But will they? Or can they?
You might think I’m paranoid, and that I’m worrying for nothing. Well. I wish I was. But a four point lead in the table (assuming Dortmund win their game in hand against Mainz midweek) with two months left in the season is far from reassuring. Eight games, including a matchup against the challengers themselves, is still a long way to go. Can Bayern hold firm?
Let’s go back to the last two seasons, and see how far Bayern were ahead at this point. We have just finished Matchday 26. In the 2019/20 season, Bayern were also four points clear of Dortmund at that stage, having beaten Union Berlin 2-0. Two matchdays later, that lead would be stretched to seven points after a hard fought 1-0 win in Der Klassiker. Bayern never looked back, and eventually won the title on Matchday 32.
In the 2020/21 season, Bayern were not challenged by Dortmund, but by RB Leipzig. On Matchday 26, they were again four points clear of the Lawnballers after a resounding 4-0 win over VfB Stuttgart. The very next matchday, Bayern faced their title rivals in Leipzig and walked away victorious, increasing the lead to seven points. Although the eventual champions did drop points thrice in the remaining seven games, so did Leipzig, and Bayern secured the championship on Matchday 32 again.
So far, the past two seasons show that we are exactly where we used to be, and evidence shows that there is a fair chance of the gap being extended in the coming weeks. But the main reason I am concerned is the change that has befallen the team since then. In the past two seasons, Hansi Flick was in charge, Say what you will about Flick, but his team was consistent. Yes, there was the occasional hiccup, but overall, you never really got the feeling that his team was going to go down easily. Flick’s team won when it mattered, which resulted in seven trophies in just a year and half.
Fast forward back to today, and we have Julian Nagelsmann at the helm. The one thing that Nagelsmann’s Bayern has failed to be is consistent. One just has to look at the past month or so to see how his team has faltered. A shock reverse to Bochum, a hard fought draw to Salzburg, and two straight draws against Leverkusen and Hoffenheim are not exactly impressive results. Want to put this into perspective? Nagelsmann has won only two out of his last five Bundesliga games, and one of them was at home to dead last Greuther Fürth. Can you see why I’m worried?
The past four weeks have severely impacted my optimism for the Bundesliga title. In the Hinrunde, we only dropped points thrice in seventeen games. In the latter half of the season, we’ve already dropped points four times, and the season is still far from done. Nagelsmann’s Bayern seems to be slowing down right when it cannot afford to. Needless to say, I am very concerned about the current trend.
The worst part is that it’s very hard to pinpoint exactly why Nagelsmann’s team is failing. Is it tactical? Are the players at fault? Is it down to injuries? Squad depth? Why is Bayern not playing like Bayern? So many questions that no one can give an outright answer to. The only way Bayern can win the Bundesliga at this point is if they shape up and start giving star-studded performances like they did last year. Judging from what I’ve seen recently, I’m not confident.
Some people keep telling me that as bad as we are, Dortmund are worse. It’s true that BVB is having a rather underwhelming season, especially considering their failures in the cup competitions. However, they only have the Bundesliga to play for now, and that will be an advantage for them, as Bayern still have the pesky (?) Champions League to deal with. Of course, Dortmund will probably drop points along the way, but who’s to say Bayern won’t do the same?
Now, four points is still a decent gap, and as long as we maintain this gap until April’s Klassiker, we have a not-bad chance of winning the league, as long as we beat Dortmund at home. But I’m not sure if we can maintain said gap. There are no easy opponents, and from the way Nagelsmann’s Bayern is playing, maximum points seems like a luxury rather than a given. My ideal scenario was to win the league mathematically on April 23rd, the date of the Klassiker, beating Dortmund in the process. I’m not so sure that will happen.
I guess I should point out that I have a severe anxiety disorder, among other disorders, and that even the smallest things drive me crazy. Even a six point lead had me sweating, so you can imagine what this four point lead is doing to me right now. I’ve also been so hung up on winning the 10th consecutive Bundesliga, so much so that it’s interfering with my daily life. It’s why this time I wanted a comfortable title race, to ease my nerves and just see us cruise to the championship. Apparently Nagelsmann has other ideas. I’m scared. I’m nervous. I’m also very exhausted. The thought of obsessing over the Bundesliga for the next two months is just plain tiring. So please understand that my brain keeps forcing me to worry about this, even if I do sound like a broken record.
God, I don’t think I’ve been this anxious about any trophy before, and that includes the Champions League and the sextuple winning Club World Cup. I guess the number 10 really holds a lot of weight. Hopefully my worries will be unnecessary and we’ll celebrate that glorious 10th consecutive Bundesliga title come late April or May. Until then, though, it’s going to be a long month or two.
What do you think? Am I worrying for nothing? Please help me feel better…