Ahead of the Lazio return fixture, what has gone wrong for Bayern this season?

Nearing almost a full year since Thomas Tuchel took over the Bayern Munich job from the departing Julian Nagelsmann, a lot of time has passed but not much progress in the footballing department.

Nagelsmann, famous for his offensive and vertically-oriented approach, especially in swiftly transitioning through the midfield, was shown the exit door in March 2023. At that time, the club hierarchy decided the Bundesliga champions were struggling, trailing Borussia Dortmund in the race to the league title.

Former Chelsea boss Tuchel was brought on to steady the ship and most remarkably pipped Borussia Dortmund to the league title on the final matchday.

Within that period in the 2022/2023 season till the incumbent season, much has changed behind the scenes and on the field with the Bavarians.

Bayern Munich’s Bundelisga woes

The fall apart in Bayern’s dressing room commenced earlier in Julian Nagelsmann’s tenure with his relationship with Bild journalist Lena Wurzenberger sparking concerns among the players — claiming they’re not particularly free to do as they wanted. 

At the time of parting company with the young German tactician, Oliver Kahn commented “We have a duty and responsibility to focus on sporting success. We asked ourselves where the up-and-down form in our team’s performances was coming from. We looked at everything very closely.”

“Things started to change a little last season, in terms of inconsistent performances. The team is always able to create highlights, but now and then also has unexplainable weaknesses. We strengthened our squad and have one of the best squads in Europe.”

Kahn added, “despite that, the consistency did not really improve. We could not be satisfied with the results and some of the performances in the second half of this season.”

Fast forward to Thomas Tuchel’s tenure, the issues hovering over squad harmony have not gone any better with specific causes triggering dressing room reactions.

For example, the astronomical wages being commanded by winger Leroy Sane, Tuchel’s doggedness to stick with certain approaches, and most recently the fallout with veteran midfielder Joshua Kimmich.

The Harry Kane jinx?

The English captain made the switch to Munich in the off-season with Daniel Levy receiving a cheque worth over £86 million. 

Kane, acclaimed far and wide as one of the best pure strikers over the last decade has still not won a trophy across his lengthy career. With former teammate Eric Dier joining him at Bayern, many claim the Tottenham Hotspur factor has now been transferred overseas to Germany.

On the contrary, Harry Kane has been in fine form since his move, finding the back of the net 31 times across his first 31 games — already breaking records in the Bundesliga with his 27 strikes in his first 23 games.

They do say goals win you games but defence wins you titles or in the case of Harry Kane just being unlucky.

Tuchel’s Strong-headedness

Thomas Tuchel remains one of the few managers who are rigid lovers of the back three. Since joining the Bavarians, he has found it difficult to implement his favored system. 

Despite the intricacies of his preferred philosophy going contrary to the quality on offer in his Bayern team. While Harry Kane has peaked in form, other players have not enjoyed their best football over the last couple of months. 

This contingent includes the likes of Leroy Sane, Jamal Musiala, Joshua Kimmich, and Alphonso Davies. The latter two are subject to transfer moves over the summer. Alphonso Davies is triggering interest from Real Madrid, while Joshua Kimmich is reportedly heading for the exit doors with Tuchel faulting him in recent games as the reason his midfield is being by-passed.

Bayern suffered three consecutive defeats to Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Lazio in the Champions League, and Bochum — the aftermath of the last seeing the club hierarchy announce Thomas Tuchel will not continue at the helm of the club past the end of the current season.

The UCL last rush for the Bavarians

Bayern pitted in the same UEFA Champions League group with English heavyweights Manchester United, Galatasaray, and Danish outfit FC Koebenhavn.

Bayern recorded five wins and dropped points in just the goalless draw to Koebenhavn in November amassing a total of 16 points.

Harry Kane’s form was instrumental yet again with seven-goal involvements across the campaign.

With this Bayern down in form coinciding with the upward spiral of Bayer 04 Leverkusen under Xabi Alonso. The former Bayern midfielder has led the club to a new German record having not recorded a loss across their first 33 matches this season. Same Alonso is now linked to the Bayern job as a potential replacement for Thomas Tuchel when he leaves the club. Many are tipping them to go all the way for the league title as such, Bayern might need to take all they can from the current UCL campaign.

Having gone down 1-0 to Maurizio Sarri’s Lazio in the first leg, the winners of the 2020 edition have all to play for in the return leg to salvage whatever is left of their season. Bayern Munich tickets are fast selling ahead of that fixture set to be action-packed.

Bayern Munich have gone from the much revered European heavyweights to just another random side with their below-the-par performances all season.

Thomas Tuchel who will expectedly leave the job in the summer will seek to make the most of his final days to secure new employment ahead of the next campaign. 

Capitalizing on the form of Harry Kane and finding a way to infuse the experience in his squad for the tail end of the tournament, it doesn’t seem too much of a big ask to see them go all the way for glory in the 2023/2024 Champions League.