German champions Bayern Munich are on their worst league run for 20 years Julian Nagelsmann's side are out of sorts having not won in their last four games Players look lethargic and have been accused of drifting through recent matchesNagelsmann's touchline attire has also been questioned, according to reports
Not a question we get to ask often after 10 straight titles but – what’s up with Bayern Munich?
Their unrelenting dominance domestically had taken some eyes away from Germany’s top flight. A procession. Bayern are always going to win so what’s the point?
Well, consider eyeballs back on the team in Bavaria, only this time it is flux, rather than celebration, that they find themselves in.
Here they sit, fifth in the standings, with question marks over their tactics, the decision to grant Robert Lewandowski his wish to leave, why do players already look so tired and what on earth is Julian Nagelsmann wearing?
Loaded from front to back and yet things aren’t clicking and the German national team, littered with Bayern stars, are feeling the knock-on effect.
Sportsmail takes a closer look at how Bayern’s free-scoring start has made way for a disjointed and lethargic run which has bosses sweating over their championship monopoly.
Julian Nagelsmann criticised his Bayern Munich players following their 1-0 defeat to Augsburg
Club chiefs Hasan Salihamidzi (left) and Oliver Kahn (right) have both expressed their concern
Nagelsmann in focus – on and off the pitch
‘We made a very intensive analysis. Julian is very clear. He and his staff know exactly what to do,’ Hasan Salihamidžić told Sport Bild.
‘Julian knows that he has the full backing of FC Bayern – we don’t need to emphasize that again and again.’
A ringing endorsement – but it appears all is not totally harmonious, no matter how hard Salihamidžić tries to smooth things over in the papers.
A report in Bild has claimed that there have been gripes internally at Bayern over Nagelsmann’s touchline attire.
Much more modern and a step away from a traditional suit or tracksuit that many managers lean towards, the Bild report claims that people behind the scenes at Bayern want Nagelsmann to view matchdays through a football and not a showbiz lens.
Julian Nagelsmann had a frank conversation with his bosses at Bayern in international break
Reports in Germany have claimed that some at Bayern have questioned Nagelsmann’s outfits
It must be stressed that Nagelsmann wears adidas and Hugo Boss clothes for games and they are both primary sponsors of Bayern. He is not breaching any rules with his wardrobe choices.
Bild have also claimed that his arrival at training, which has been both on a skateboard and on a Harley, is seen as an ‘unnecessary show’.
Amid all the talk of Thomas Tuchel, brutally axed by Chelsea earlier this season, waiting in the wings, all the talk in Bavaria is that there is no immediate threat to Nagelsmann’s job.
There seems to be agreement behind the scenes that the players are the ones underperforming but with the international window now drawing to a close, patience towards Nagelsmann won’t run forever.
Less and less xG
Taking the first six league games as a sample size, Bayern’s creation dipped, and dipped and dipped to the point Nagelsmann may have checked if his top marksman had taken up some annual leave.
Disclaimer, a bright start – helped massively by a 7-0 win over Bochum, has Bayern as the top scorers in the Bundesliga, with 19 goals.
In the three games that followed that romp over Bochum – 1-1 vs Borussia Monchengladbach, 1-1 vs Union Berlin, and 2-2 vs Stuttgart.
Nagelsmann’s working his way through a myriad of changes in personnel and also constant evolution of the style but with that he is still expected to deliver winning football, and attractive football.
In the first three games – wins over Eintracht Frankfurt, Wolfsburg and Bochum – delivered an average of 3.1 expected goals per match. They scored 15 across those three games.
Bayern started the season free-scoring but have seen their expected goals tally diminish
Robert Lewandowski left Bayern in the summer and has proven a hit already at Barcelona
But, interestingly, the forward line has only created an average of 1.7 expected goals in the three games that followed – delivering four goals in three.
To the surprise of very few Bayern are dominating possession but they are not punishing sides as they did against Frankfurt (6-1) and Bochum (7-0).
They may be top of possession metrics but are also top in the Bundesliga for opportunities missed.
Fifth in the table is an unmitigated disaster for Bayern but they have oodles of talent and know they need to move some pieces around to make it all fit.
Right now there is no escaping the attack isn’t working anywhere near to its potential. Get that part right and the rest will follow.
Drifting through games
One of the biggest criticisms that can be levelled against this current incarnation of Bayern is that it looks lethargic and, on more than one occasion, predictable.
Too often in games supporters are left questioning the effort as well as the application.
Bayern are looking to win an 11th consecutive Bundesliga title and so it can be seen where complacency may have crept in.
But Bayern, so early in a season that is going to be like no other with a World Cup breaking it in two, look physically out of sorts.
Accusations levelled against Bayern is that they are drifting through matches this season
With Serge Gnabry, Sadio Mane, Leroy Sane, Kingsley Coman and Alphonso Davies, pace and energy should be the last thing to accuse this Bayern side of lacking.
This lethargic tendency had crept in towards the back end of last season and it still hasn’t been sorted, only then they had Lewandowski to bail them out.
Call it chemistry declining, call it fatigue after so many seasons at the top level, it’s hard to pin specifically but Stuttgart, who bagged a 2-2 draw in Munich, and Augsburg, who won 1-0 at home, just looked more switched off and less error-prone in their approach play.
Even Nagelsmann could not bite his tongue after that latest defeat.
The German boss told Sky: ‘We’re just very, very laissez-faire in the last third. In training, we don’t even have that much of a majority.
Questions have been asked about Serge Gnabry (right) as Bayern look lethargic in games
‘I think about everything. About me. About the situation. About everything.’
A large meeting has been held during the international break and, look, there is a belief that form is temporary and class is permanent and that Bayern will, in time, be fine.
‘We will show a different face after the international break,’ Salihamidžić added.
‘And I expect that too. Physical intensity, hunger and the willingness to push yourself to the limit in every game. We also need a much better, more focused chance conversion.’
Mane struggling to settle
Three goals in his first three league games suggested Mane was going to take to German football like a duck to water.
That, with the benefit of hindsight, would prove to be massively premature as he cuts a dejected figure that is figuring out a puzzle that continues to befuddle him.
In defeat to Augsburg before the international break Mane is being deployed, as he often is by Nagelsmann, as the defacto No 9 in a 4-2-3-1 system.
Jamal Musiala typically takes the wide role of the left, the role Mane really wants, and Mane now just has one goal in his last seven Bayern appearances.
That goal came in a routine 5-0 win against Viktoria Koln in the German Cup at the end of August.
‘Sadio still needs a little time, he has to get used to the Bundesliga too, but he will,’ Salihamidžić added.
Sadio Mane finds himself in a slump at Bayern Munich after a series of games without a goal
‘I know what it’s like to arrive as a newcomer to a team, in a different country, in a different city, in a slightly different football culture.’
Much of Mane’s electricity and his dynamism at Liverpool came when he was able to use his pace, steal a march on a player and build up ahead of steam.
But working as the de-facto No 9 in Nagelsmann’s system, things, as of yet, are not clicking and that, while of no immediate concern as many in Munich are convinced he is too talented not to figure it out, will be a worry.
Five goals in 11 games feels far from a disaster but this is Bayern on their worst domestic run in 20 years with their former striker putting on an attacking clinic right now for Barcelona.
Bild themselves added that his own form has not escaped Mane, in fact he ‘doesn’t look for excuses’ and ‘is annoyed’ that he’s not fulfilling his potential.
If Mane returns from international duty and begins to look like the player Liverpool were so keen to keep all this ‘crisis’ talk will vanish rapidly. See this drought stretch to 10-or-more games and the pressure will be immense.
Mane (right) looks less than comfortable in a central role and would rather be off the left