A German media outlet recently published an unofficial pre-season table which reflected the friendly results of all 18 Bundesliga sides. Bayern Munich were last.
The record 31-time Bundesliga champions have not won a single match since the beginning of their summer preparation, losing to teams such as Ajax and Napoli.
Bayern’s new manager Julian Nagelsmann and his bosses insist there is no panic, but many people in and around the club feel their quest for yet another title will not be as easy as last season when they finished 13 points clear.
Hansi Flick, Nagelsmann’s predecessor, was successful and well-liked by players and fans, so replacing him was a thankless task.
Nagelsmann’s past as a former youth player for 1860 Munich, Bayern’s city rivals, have made him the target of verbal attacks by some supporters during warm-up games – and his relationship with some of the fanbase certainly needs work.
More importantly, the 34-year-old has a long way to go until his team play the way he wants. At Leipzig, he changed the tactical set-up quite drastically compared to his predecessors, turning them from a counter-attacking side into one who were possession oriented.
He does not have to do the same at an already-dominant Bayern outfit, but he does want to introduce several new features – namely inverted full-backs, passing triangles across the pitch, repeated positional switches in possession and deeper pressing than before.
He also intends to change formations mid-match, although the 4-2-3-1 is set to be the default one when the season starts.
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What has made the job difficult is the fact Nagelsmann could not practise these new ideas with his best line-up. Players such as Joshua Kimmich, Thomas Muller and Alphonso Davies have recently arrived at the training ground after extended breaks.
Bayern’s first competitive match of the season, a cup game against fifth-division Bremer SV, also had to be cancelled as the opponents were forced into quarantine because of Covid-19, leaving the champions without ideal preparation.