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Bayern pull away, competitors mess up

Bundesliga
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Title fight: Bayern pull away, competitors fail

Those who follow FC Bayern only partially meet the demands of a title candidate. Constancy? Nothing! Sovereignty? Also rather moderate. The result: even if the Munichs weaken, the pursuers weaken even more.

If only they would keep their word. For years, FC Bayern’s pursuers have been formulating their noble goals more or less clearly.

Points if the record champions lose. Attack when Bayern are put on the defensive. And now? At the weekend, the challengers crashed and the Munich team pulled away. After the 4: 0 at FC Schalke 04, the lead over the second is already seven points.

“Bayern don’t give a shit,” said Bayer Leverkusen’s goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky on ZDF after the 0-1 win against VfL Wolfsburg. RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann became almost cynical. “If we lose everything and Bayern lose everything, they are still ahead of us,” said the 33-year-old, who was recently traded with the Saxons as the largest contender for the title outside of Munich.

On Saturday, Leipzig, second in the table, lost 3-2 to relegation candidates FSV Mainz 05. Borussia Dortmund made a mess on Friday (2-4 at Borussia Mönchengladbach). A familiar picture.

BVB has been preparing to break Munich’s dominance for years. “We want to be there when Bayern are weak,” said Borussia Dortmund’s managing director Hans-Joachim Watzke in the summer of 2015. Three years later he affirmed: “If Bayern weakens, we will grab them again.”

Currently, however, BVB is even worried about the Champions League places. Dortmund have already suffered as many defeats after 18 games as in the entire previous season – and at the moment they don’t need to waste any thought on Bayern. And is not alone in that.

Instead of shortening the gap to Munich as third in the table for at least 24 hours, Leverkusen also started the second half of the season with a defeat. At the end of last year, not so long ago, Bayer Sports Director Simon Rolfes announced: “First place is a beautiful place”. He is aggressive again. After the 11th and 12th matchday, coach Peter Bosz’s Leverkusen team topped the table.

Bayern have been back at the top since the 13th matchday. A mini-trailer from Munich with three draws in four games from mid-November to mid-December could not make decisive use of the competitors. And the defending champion himself picked himself up again – even with dizzy spells – after the defeat against Borussia Mönchengladbach and the certainly more shameful end in the DFB Cup against the second division Holstein Kiel in the new year.

“Basically we don’t have to talk about Bayern if we don’t win the games,” said Nagelsmann after the Mainz bankruptcy. Nagelsmann already foresaw the victory of the record champions at Schalke: “Sure, seven points ahead – there was not yet statistical evidence that they gambled it away, as far as I know.”

Since the 2011/2012 season, Bayern have finished the first series eight times – but not in the past two seasons. They became masters anyway. In 2019/2020 they made up four points on RB Leipzig – back then as third. In 2018/2019, six points were not enough for Dortmund at the half-way point. The last time that Bayern did not win the title after the autumn championship was nine years ago – three points were not enough, Dortmund became champions.

It remains to be seen what hopes the pursuers can have for further Bayern slip-ups, the team of triple coach Hansi Flick has now achieved six wins in the past seven league games.

Leipzig, on the other hand, recently left points in two draws and was defeated at home by Dortmund, as it is now with the Mainz team, which had only been victorious this season. “You have no right to it if you lose to a relegation candidate and get three goals against, then you don’t need to talk about anything up front,” emphasized RB captain Marcel Sabitzer.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210124-99-149253 / 4

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