Preview: After the era is before Mainz 05

Justin Separator March 16, 2019

Drama and exaggeration – two inevitable components of football that can also be found in reporting. Especially when it comes to FC Bayern. After the end of the Champions League last Wednesday, the media response was overwhelming.

From the end of Bayern’s era to the dramatic crash of German football, everything was there. On we therefore analysed not only the loss against Liverpool FC, but also the causes reaching far into the past and the conclusions for the future.

What a time to be a Blog! But seriously: What follows now? What does this defeat do to FC Bayern Munich? What conclusions does the club draw from this? The trivial answer is that now FSV Mainz 05 follows. And to focus on this task should be difficult enough in view of the situation.

End of an era?

Ultimately, Liverpool doesn’t have to be seen as a clear end in itself. Yes, Bayern lost clearly and without a chance. They showed the world that they are no longer among the best teams in Europe.

But if you’re honest, it’s been a long time. Already Paris 2017 was a low point, which one could see well and gladly as end of the generation Lahmsteiger. But then Jupp Heynckes came along and saved the club’s reputation with a good mix of leadership and luck.

It is absolutely clear that an era must end at some point. It is also out of the question that the Reds do not manage the transition to perfection. But who can do that? Who can jump from a golden era immediately into the next period of success without leaving burnt bridges behind and losing all humanity? The latest decisions by German national coach Joachim Löw alone prove that in times of transition in many places one can only lose.

Fear of the future

The FC Bayern is still in the race for two titles – it could be worse for the club. But that’s exactly where the danger of the current situation lies, which hides many negative developments.

It needs the even more concrete realization that summer brings a whole mountain full of work. And of course this mountain also frightens a Bayern fan a little.

Will the right players come to Munich? Do they even know what kind of football to play? Isn’t Niko Kovač a number too small for the FCB? Do titles ultimately not only cover the undesirable developments?

“Only as good as your opponent allows”

All these are legitimate and important questions and concerns. The future of the record champion is open and it is becoming increasingly difficult to catch up with Europe’s leaders. All the more important are the right decisions from now on.

The start of a new era has arrived. This does not mean that Bayern will show a completely new face against Mainz 05. Because if there is one thing that has been demonstrated under Kovač, it is the fact that attitude and will alone will not win any games.

And here lies the real core of a problem that runs through the entire season: “We can only be as good as our opponents allow us to be,” said Niko Kovač at the press conference after the Liverpool game. It’s the language of an underdog that doesn’t suit FC Bayern.

Kovač wants something Bayern can’t do

From courageous comparisons to football, which Louis van Gaal introduced in Munich in 2009, not even a season passed until this statement was made. It’s certainly harsh to deny a coach his quality after only three quarters of a year – especially since he’s only a symptom, not the problem, along with the squad planning and window-dressing of recent years.

Finally, however, the conclusion must be drawn that Niko Kovač wants to make FC Bayern something that FC Bayern cannot be – as in relationships where it is clear that they will not last long. But you try it because you don’t realize that it’s not love. Hummels and Lewandowski criticised the tactical approach of the team on Wednesday evening. They didn’t name Kovač as the responsible person, but themselves as players. What the coach demanded of them had not been implemented.

But what does he want? Nobody at FC Bayern really wants to answer this question. And so a picture remains, which draws a coach, who has ideas and who has developed especially in the squad moderation strongly, but who ultimately fails to implement his ideas. Also because the idea obviously doesn’t fit in with the squad and the club’s self-image.

Missing courage

The modern football is developing in a direction where the ball possession football becomes more vertical and faster. This is exactly where a team like FC Bayern should come in. With their recent past and the core of the team, the leap there is much shorter than that to a second Atlético Madrid.

However, Kovač does not have the tactical means to implement this football. Ball losses, vulnerability to counterattacks, balance problems – the Reds do not find the way to this kind of football. And so Kovač is dangling from compromise to compromise in order to at least get the results. Even Carlo Ancelotti with his hero football and Jupp Heynckes with his revival measures as a hobby doctor of a dead team were ultimately closer to success than Kovač. Also because the team knew how to convince the audience with willpower and courage.

The will may also be there under Kovač, but the courage is completely lacking. FC Bayern used to play to win games. Currently they play to avoid the greatest possible damage. The club’s self-confident “Mia san mia” quickly turned into a “Mia san mimimi”. The great Liverpool, the great quality of the opponent – not so long ago, opponents were also praised, but then with the greatest possible respect shot out of the Allianz Arena and said goodbye with a handshake if they did not even reach their maximum like Liverpool. Now you’re only as good as your opponent allows you to be.

Managed decisions

Of course this is also due to the fact that the (key) players used to be younger and faster. But Kovač limits the qualities of his own team by underdogging FC Bayern. And thus he disqualifies himself more and more for the tasks of the Bayern coach.

Instead of growing beyond oneself, FC Bayern even remains below its potential, although they have already become smaller. And when it comes to naming the undesirable developments, the coach cannot necessarily be left out of the equation. Even if he can’t help the fact that he was offered this job and the responsible persons don’t want to do everything to fulfill his ideas.

The next step to the championship

In summer FC Bayern will go on a shopping tour. In plain language, decisions must be coordinated. And if a coach like Kovač needs players for his football who don’t fit to the ideas of FC Bayern, then there is only one logical conclusion. Ancelotti got James, Guardiola got Thiago, Heynckes got Martínez, van Gaal got Robben, Klinsmann got Dono … -Never mind! Who did Kovač get anyway? Obviously the club is not ready to fulfil the coach’s wishes completely either. There must be reasons that are ideally based on the circumstances described here.

At the weekend Kovač will sit on the bench again. What would be the point of changing coaches now that the Munich team is still in the race for the title? That would be just as absurd as the dismissal after the Düsseldorf game would have been. But the reaction of the team is all the more exciting. And even more exciting is the reaction of the board in the coming months.

At least most players still seem to stand behind the coach, which is not to be taken for granted with regard to the football on offer. Against Mainz you have to reckon with angry Bayern who want to take the next step to the championship with high willpower.

What’s better for the future?

Mainz will probably defend with an aggressive row of three in front of the defensive chain of four. Bayern therefore need an idea to attack their opponent’s well-organized defence. This could be done by overloading the half spaces and the spaces between the lines. The return of Thomas Müller could help here.

Kimmich will also provide some good crosses on the right side. However, the central defenders of the visitors are very strong in the air. So crosses shouldn’t be the only way for the Reds. At the Bundesliga level, Kovač recently found a better approach again. Although against clearly inferior or out of form teams, but nevertheless. The task now is to secure silverware in the catch-up chase against Borussia Dortmund. With the seventh salad bowl in a row.

After the defeat against Liverpool, the team has to win against Mainzer, who is difficult to play against. Otherwise, the recently rightened season threatens to be overturned again. And then at the latest it would become tight also for Niko Kovač. The admittedly provocative question remains, what is better for the future.

»Eier, wir brauchen Eier!«

— Oliver Kahn

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