Bayern Munich players undergo training at Saebener Strasse, Munich, Germany, April 11, 2022. — Reuters pic
BERLIN, April 15 — Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann today urged his side to turn “misery into momentum” as they return to Bundesliga action on Sunday after a shock Champions League exit to Villarreal.
League leaders Bayern travel to relegation candidates Arminia Bielefeld on Sunday, hoping to move a step closer to a seemingly inevitable tenth successive German title.
Yet the trip has been overshadowed by their surprise exit from Europe last Tuesday, with Nagelsmann admitting that his players are still “frustrated”.
“Obviously there is a bit of sadness, because we now have to wait another year for games like that. We’ll have a year to think about it,” he said.
“We now have a job to do: win the next two games and secure the league title. We need to turn the misery into momentum.”
Bayern are nine points clear of second-placed Borussia Dortmund at the top of the table with five games to go, meaning they could wrap up the title by next weekend.
If they beat Bielefeld on Sunday, they will have the chance to finish the job in a headline clash with Dortmund the following Saturday.
Nagelsmann said that his team will have to do without French stars Lucas Hernandez and Kingsley Coman due to “muscular problems”, while defender Niklas Suele is also still nursing an injury.
Robert Lewandowski is expected to lead the line as usual amid speculation over his future.
The Poland striker is yet to sign a new contract extension beyond 2023 at Bayern, which has raised questions over whether the club will sell him at the end of this season to avoid losing him on a free transfer next year.
But today, Nagelsmann dismissed rumours that Lewandowski may be on his way to Barcelona.
“I think there was nothing in that. When I talk to him, I don’t have the impression that he wants to leave,” said the coach of the Fifa Men’s Player of the Year.
“It’s normal that a player is having thoughts about his future, especially when he’s been at the club for so long. But it always seems to me as if he would like to stay. I would obviously like to keep him in my team.”
One to watch: Felix MagathThe former Fulham and Wolfsburg coach now has just five games to save Hertha Berlin from relegation after a streaky start and a humiliating derby defeat to Union Berlin last Saturday.
Hertha have won one and lost two since Magath returned from obscurity to take the reins in March, but are yet to win with the veteran coach in the dugout, as he was forced to sit out the 3-0 win over Hoffenheim after a positive Covid test.
The coming weeks will be crucial for the beleaguered capital club, as they prepare for three successive clashes with relegation rivals, beginning with today’s trip to Augsburg.
“So far, we’ve had the handicap of playing against very good teams, but now we have opponents on our level, so there can be no excuses anymore,” said Magath today.
Key stats17 — Goals Robert Lewandowski has scored away from home this season. He needs just one more to set a new Bundesliga record.
69 — Points Bayern have won after 29 games, their highest tally at this stage for four years.
111 — Amount of times Borussia Moenchengladbach and Cologne will have contested the Rhine derby in a competitive match after Saturday’s clash.
Fixtures today (all times 1330GMT unless stated)
Borussia Dortmund v Wolfsburg, Freiburg v VfL Bochum, Mainz 05 v VfB Stuttgart, Augsburg v Hertha Berlin, Borussia Moenchengladbach v Cologne (1630)
Arminia Bielefeld v Bayern Munich, Union Berlin v Eintracht Frankfurt (1530), Hoffenheim v Greuther Fuerth (1530) Bayer Leverkusen v RB Leipzig (1730) — AFP