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Bayern Munich's 11-year era of domestic dominance nearing its end after new stumble

Harry Kane Bayern Munich Harry Kane - The Canadian Press

BERLIN (AP) — It feels like the beginning of the end of an era for Bayern Munich.

The Bavarian powerhouse lost again Sunday, and its chances of securing a record-extending 12th consecutive Bundesliga title look slim as league leader Bayer Leverkusen pulled eight points clear with 12 rounds remaining.

It was Bayern’s third defeat in eight days, a run that started with a chastening 3-0 loss at Leverkusen, then a 1-0 defeat at Lazio in the Champions League, before Bochum came from behind to win 3-2 in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

“It feels like a horror film that just doesn’t end,” Bayern midfielder Leon Goretzka said.

Bayern hadn’t lost three games in a row since May 2015, when the team coached by Pep Guardiola had already clinched the Bundesliga title and was focused on the Champions League.

The situation is vastly different now as Bayern can't afford any more slip-ups either domestically or in the Champions League, with Lazio visiting for the second leg of their round-of-16 match on March 5.

Even if Bayern does manage to advance, Thomas Tuchel’s team does not look capable of upsetting tournament favorites like Manchester City or Real Madrid.

Of greatest concern for Bayern, however, is the disappearance of its aura of domestic superiority — Bayern is not the best team in Germany anymore as Leverkusen clearly demonstrated in its win over the defending champion.

Tuchel’s team was already knocked out of the German Cup by third-division Saarbrücken in the second round.

And Bayern only won the Bundesliga title last year because Borussia Dortmund squandered its chance on the final day.

Rivals no longer fear the Bavarian powerhouse. Bochum — a team that Bayern defeated 7-0 in Munich earlier this season — fought hard and took its chances. It also needed veteran goalkeeper Manuel Riemann at his best to deny Leroy Sané late on as Bayern had 27 shots compared to Bochum’s 13.

Tuchel blamed bad luck for the defeat, but Bochum displayed more commitment than his players. Bayern was at its best when Tuchel sent on the 18-year-old French forward Mathys Tel, who perhaps should have started.

Bayern midfielder Joshua Kimmich clashed with assistant coach Zsolt Löw after the match, suggesting tensions between players and the coaching staff.

Tuchel himself stayed in the dugout for most of the second half while Bochum counterpart Thomas Letsch had the sideline to himself to urge on his players.

Bayern chief executive Jan-Christian Dreesen said Tuchel will remain in charge for Bayern’s next match against visiting Leipzig on Saturday, but he didn’t rule out making a change at a later stage.

Bayern's struggles have come despite summer signing Harry Kane scoring 25 goals in 22 games so far, topping the Bundesliga scoring chart by a wide margin. But much has been made in the German press of Bayern’s other highly paid stars — Kimmich, Goretzka, Sané, Serge Gnabry and Matthijs de Ligt — and their failure to meet expectations.

Tuchel, who took over from the fired Julian Nagelsmann less than a year ago, is encountering the same problems as his predecessor, who had taken over from Hansi Flick in 2021.

Oliver Kahn, who was Bayern CEO at the time, said Bayern wasn’t showing its true potential under Nagelsmann.

But Kahn is gone now, too, fired along with sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić at the end of last season just hours after Bayern’s title win.

It continued the boardroom upheaval that started when former club president Uli Hoeness stepped down in 2019 and former CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge followed in 2021. Both Hoeness and Rummenigge are on Bayern's supervisory board.

Kahn replaced Rummenigge as CEO. Dreesen, who replaced Kahn, will have to figure out how to get Bayern back on track.

Former Borussia Mönchengladbach and Leipzig sporting director Max Eberl is tipped to join the Bavarian powerhouse as soon as next month.

Whether Tuchel remains or not, a summer of rebuilding awaits.


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