Rivals ponder how to break Bayern Munich’s grip on Bundesliga

BERLIN (AFP) – European champions Bayern Munich begin the hunt for a ninth-straight Bundesliga title tomorrow, but while their rivals ponder how to break their iron grip on the German league, the Bavarian giants have pressing issues to resolve on the eve of the new season.

Bayern host Schalke at the Allianz Arena to kick-off the Bundesliga season just 26 days after lifting the Champions League trophy in Lisbon to complete the treble.

They stand to play 57 games in a 2020/21 fixture list condensed by the knock-on effects of the coronavirus pandemic, but at least tomorrow, Bayern will be able to play in front of a small number of fans for the first time since March.

However, they have already lost three of the Champions League-winning squad.

Ivan Perisic, Philippe Coutinho and Alvaro Odriozola have returned to Inter Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively after their loan deals expired.

“We have to make up for it,” head coach Hansi Flick admitted with Bayern facing Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup and Borussia Dortmund for the German Super Cup in the coming fortnight.

Bayern Munich players warm up for a training session in Munich, Germany. PHOTO: AP

Bayern want to sign a new winger with Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi again on their radar. They also want a defender.

Flick’s star-studded squad finished last season on an all-conquering 21-game winning run, including the 8-2 thrashing of Spanish giants Barcelona in the Champions League’s quarter-finals.

“The current team of Hansi Flick is perhaps the best Bayern team ever,” Chief Executive of rivals Borussia Dortmund Hans-Joachim Watzke declared last month.

“They no longer beat their opponents – they destroy them.”

Bayern’s last loss was at the hands of Moenchengldbach last December.

Watzke refuses to make any statements about Dortmund denying the Bavarians a ninth-straight Bundesliga title in 2020/21.

The message was similarly bleak from Champions League semi-finalists RB Leipzig finished third in the Bundesliga behind Bayern and runners-up Dortmund.

“We need two years of training and playing at international level, to develop our players to the max, but Bayern would still be hard to catch,” Leipzig’s head coach Julian Nagelsmann told newspaper Mitteldeutsche Zeitung yesterday.

Bayern’s impressive run is down to the irresistible form of stars like Thomas Mueller and Robert Lewandowski.

Mueller managed a league-record 21 assists, making a mockery of Joachim Loew’s decision to end his Germany career in March 2019. Lewandowski netted 55 goals in 47 games last season, leaving him as the top-scorer in both the Bundesliga, where he hit 34 goals, and the Champions League, where he scored 15 times in 10 games.

However, to preserve the harmony in the dressing room, Flick and the club’s bosses must quickly resolve the future of defender David Alaba and midfielder Thiago Alcantara. Both are stalling over signing contract extensions.