Excitement in the Bundesliga and a lot of disruptive fire – does that come in handy for FC Bayern Munich? In any case, this is the theory put forward by the CEO Oliver Kahn after the top game against Union Berlin, which was won in a comfortable manner.
Leon Goretzka and his team had just outclassed the so-called pursuers Union Berlin in the Bundesliga top game when he thought about the final sprint of the past season. As a reminder: Back then, FC Bayern Munich had already secured their tenth championship title in a row on matchday 31, but by then they had already been eliminated from both cup competitions.
The results of the three final games against FSV Mainz 05, VfB Stuttgart and VfL Wolfsburg were completely irrelevant. You don’t do anything here either – in contrast to Goretzka’s recollections of it. “To be honest, I think,” said the 28-year-old: “These games at the end of last season, which were about nothing, didn’t give me much.”
On the one hand, FC Bayern hates not being sovereign at the top. On the other hand, not being challenged sometimes bores and paralyzes him. A dilemma that Goretzka summarized wonderfully: “My job is to make it as non-exciting as possible. Accordingly, I will do everything for it – but this tension certainly does no harm.”
FC Bayern: The best performances in the most important games
The Bundesliga is currently more exciting than it has been for a long time, and there are currently no indications of irrelevant games in the final spurt of the season. At the start of the second half of the season, FC Bayern surprisingly made three draws, most recently a bankruptcy at Borussia Mönchengladbach. Before the 22nd match day, Munich were only ahead of Union Berlin and Borussia Dortmund thanks to the better goal difference.
BVB beat TSG Hoffenheim on Saturday and thus also won their ninth competitive game of the calendar year. In a defeat against Union, FC Bayern would have slipped to third place. The pressure was great, the triumph that followed all the greater. 3:0 goals, 6:0 great chances, 20:3 shots. “Two, three classes difference” saw Union coach Urs Fischer. A demonstration of power in Munich.
It almost seems as if the players are having a bit of fun with the unusual tension. The inexplicable mistakes are both a nuisance and a motivation for the very important duels. The bigger the challenge, the better the performance. What is striking is that FC Bayern was most convincing and successful in the second half of the season in the big games. Against Union, in the DFB Cup round of 16 against Mainz and in the round of 16 first leg of the Champions League against Paris Saint-Germain.
Oliver Kahn: “It’s good if you have to fight”
In the two years after the treble in 2020, FC Bayern won the championship title with ease, but failed early on in the Champions League and the DFB Cup – repeatedly against teams that FC Bayern should not normally fail against. Holstein Kiel, Borussia Monchengladbach, FC Villarreal.
Perhaps the current tension in the Bundesliga will help in the cup competitions. “It’s good if you have to fight in all competitions because that increases the tension,” said CEO Oliver Kahn. He knows that from his own playing days. Spring 2001: first the championship title in added time on the last day of the game, then the Champions League triumph on penalties against FC Valencia.
Kahn doesn’t expect a final spurt this season, “as it has perhaps always been in recent years, where we always had a certain gap and in the end we became German champions relatively clearly. This year it’s closer. It’s a challenge.” It seems that Kahn doesn’t see this challenge as a problem at all.
Oliver Kahn: “A little bit of friction isn’t that bad”
And all the disruptive fire off the field? Manuel Neuer’s unauthorized interview, Serge “Gucci” Gnabry’s trip to Paris, Leroy Sané’s unpunctuality, Thomas Müller’s lightning-fast substitution in Gladbach, Julian Nagelsmann’s pack rant against the referees and the accompanying conspiracy theory?
“What does jamming mean?” Kahn asked with the calm of a seasoned Titan. “A bit of friction isn’t all that bad either. If we’re all in harmony here, that’s not always for the best.” Kahn also knows that from his playing days: Here a shove against a teammate, there a bite or a kung fu kick against a Dortmund player. Friction creates energy.
Perhaps to directly underline his thesis and to rekindle a smoldering disruptive fire, the CEO threw a verbal match into the conspiracy theory debate: “If we put everything on the pitch, then we can live very well with the wrong decisions of the referees.” According to Kahn, there are “not many, if not nobody, apart from our own fans who want us to become German champions”.
FC Bayern: First Stuttgart, then the second leg against PSG
But these sentences also imply: Friction yes, but better external than internal. Munich Wagenburg. The team evening on Friday in the Grünwald forester’s house in Wörnbrunn fits in well with this, when the team discussed all the disruptive fire and committed themselves to the upcoming challenges. “Moments like this are important,” says Kahn, “that you get together, share your opinion within the team and clear things up.”
According to Nagelsmann, “something happened because we ourselves don’t feel like there’s so much theater around”. Müller didn’t want to give any detailed information about the content of the conversation, just said: “We ate well, that’s the most important thing. We secured our survival with an excellent menu.”
The second leg against PSG is on the schedule next week’s Wednesday menu. After the 1-0 victory in Paris, it is then a question of securing survival in the Champions League with all the Bundesliga tension and frictional energy. In between, a Bundesliga duel with Stuttgart awaits. Unlike last year’s final spurt, the championship lead is at stake this time. Goretzka won’t be happy about that, but will be happy.