Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller celebrates with Benjamin Pavard after winning the Bundesliga, Munich April 23, 2022. — Reuters pic
BERLIN, April 24 — Even as their players doused each other with beer to celebrate winning a 10th straight Bundesliga title on Saturday, Bayern Munich were still suffering from the hangover of their shock Champions League defeat by Villarreal.
Bayern’s 3-1 victory over second-placed Borussia Dortmund at the Allianz Arena gave them an unassailable 12-point lead with three games left, sparking the traditional “Bierdusche” (beer showers) on the pitch.
Bayern are the first club to win 10 consecutive titles in one of Europe’s top leagues.
Yet the feeling among Bayern fans is that another league title is little consolation for premature exits in both the German Cup and Champions League.
Winning the Bundesliga has become the bare minimum expected of Bayern each season.
“When we were German champions, man, you were delirious for a week,” former club president Uli Hoeness told Munich newspaper SZ, recalling the three Bundesliga titles he won at Bayern in the 1970s.
“I’m annoyed that the championship has come down in value so much. Nobody is happy.”
The Champions League quarter-final loss to Villarreal a fortnight ago still haunts Bayern.
Villarreal substitute Samuel Chukwueze’s late equaliser sealed a 1-1 draw at the Allianz Arena to hand Bayern a 2-1 aggregate defeat.
Head coach Julian Nagelsmann was the first to admit the team fell short of expectations in his first season.
“Not good enough,” was how he appraised the whole season immediately after the second leg against Villarreal.
“The semi-finals are always the minimum goal for Bayern Munich.”
Bayern crashed to a 5-0 thrashing at Borussia Moenchengladbach in the German Cup second round last October.
This week, Nagelsmann said the events of “the last two weeks are clouding the mood” and dampening the euphoria of his first major trophy.
There are several key issues Bayern’s senior bosses must resolve.
Manuel Neuer, Thomas Mueller, Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski are all out of contract next year and waiting to be offered extension deals.
The biggest concern is over the future of Lewandowski, who has scored 48 goals in all competitions this season.
The Poland striker has been linked with Barcelona and club CEO Oliver Kahn has admitted Lewandowski is “considering his future”.
Bayern also need to find a new defender with Germany centre-back Niklas Suele to join Dortmund next season.
Bayern are still finding their feet, from the boardroom down to the coaching staff.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who Kahn replaced as CEO, and Hoeness, who yielded the club presidency to Herbert Hainer, have gone, taking with them decades of experience leading Bayern.
Nagelsmann is still just 34.
Bayern great Lothar Matthaeus said they fell short of their own high standards this season.
The team had “too many lows”, he wrote in Kicker, pointing to the “embarrassing” cup defeat at Moenchengladbach and surprise league losses at Augsburg and Bochum.
“You don’t have to win every game 4-0, but overall there were too many wobbles.” — AFP