In the wake of our most important game of the season, I think this is an appropriate time to raise this subject and put it out there in the open.
A quick look into Bayern’s recent form in the Champions League, for the past 7 years or so, will show you the following;
- 2010: Final (2 – 0 Vs Inter)
- 2011: Quarter-Final (3 – 3 Vs Inter – Away goal rule)
- 2012: Final (1 – 1 Vs Chelsea – Penalties)
- 2013: Won it
- 2014: Semi Final (5 – 0 Vs R. Madrid)
as a side note, a lot of Bayern Players won the WC
- 2015: Semi Final (5 – 3 Vs Barcelona)
- 2016: Semi Final (2 – 2 Vs A. Madrid – away goal rule)
- 2017: ???
A quick look will only show a team with a legitimate attempt to win it every year, but a deeper look into how the team made it to each of those (Finals, Semi-Finals and Quarters) will show a distinct difference in the team attitude.
I believe the turning point was in 2014, and the team’s end of an era started then. I still remember one of Pep’s first press conferences when he first joined us, saying that his biggest challenge will undoubtedly be to motivate the players to try and win it all again. The man wasn’t kidding.
If you look at our team quality back in 2010 – 2012, and compare it to the one we have now, you can’t deny that the current team quality is higher than it was back then. But in the same context, the team mentality and attitude is also different – but not in a positive way.
If you look at the team’s campaigns from 2010 till 2013, you’ll see the team making crucial comebacks, and even breath-taking ones. Every time the team failed, they mounted an even more impressive campaign in the next year.
Even in 2012, our team fought really hard. An example of that is how we didn’t put up the white flag when Real was 2-0 up within 20 mins in the return leg of the semi-final. We fought and got one back, and we denied them from scoring a 3rd for the rest of the match, and we even pushed for one more… even in the final, our team pushed really hard and managed to get the lead so late, and also kept pushing in extra time. Despite the eventual failure that year, we all remember how the team stood up again, and managed an even more impressive campaign the year after it, ending up with the team winning it all.
It’s not just an aging players issue, it’s a mental one. A lot of our players have managed to finally win the CL in the final quarter of their playing careers, and some of them have won the world cup as well, two milestones that every professional player yearns to achieve…
From 2014 onward, you feel like our core players have this sense of satisfaction, as if they are satisfied with what they achieved. If we do more, then great, if not… well, it’s not the end of the world.
Whenever we have a setback on one of the big games, the team’s reaction is close to none, we leak easy goals, miss our chances if we create any, we waste penalties in crucial moments of these ties, and we succumb to heavy defeats as if it’s the norm.
I do believe that tactics, team structure and playing philosophy of our team leaves so much to be desired, and is an integral part of the problem, but frankly we did have a lot of these issues between 2010-2013. Yet, our team mental strength made up for a lot of it.
With the exception of Robben/Neuer, who seem as hungry as ever for success, you can notice that the players who have not achieved CL glory yet are the ones who are carrying this team, and showing that fighting spirit others have lost.
Players like Alaba, Lahm, Basti (when he was still here), Ribery, Boateng and even Muller have caught that fever. They are all unmotivated and lack fighting spirit.
Our skipper is at fault the most here, his duty as the team captain requires him to try and motivate his team, instruct them, and try to pick them up when things are not going well. When was the last time you saw him do any of that? I can’t even remember.
With Lahm and Alonso retiring at the end of the season, and both Ribery and Robben our best players for the last decade on the way out, it’s the best time to acknowledge that end of an era and start a fresh one.
Our board will have to pump new blood into the team, blood that is hungry for success, players that will fight tooth and nail for glory, under the leadership of Carlo and the captaincy of Neuer.
I know I’ve stated that this article will be a preview to our game against Real Madrid, but with all these question marks about our players’ fitness, it’s really hard to make an assessment or prediction of how we are going to play. Honestly, I really don’t care at this point, if Real Madrid were meant to go through and knock us out again – all I want to see from our team is for them to put up a fight and make Real Madrid players run hard for it. A fight that will be worthy to be the last CL game for a club legend such as Lahm, and a world class player such as Alonso.
No matter what happens next Tuesday, I know for a fact that the future of our team will start by the end of this season. Our board will have a lot of work to do, and so will our coach and the players.
Mia San Mia.