Bayern Munich finds itself in a state of unrest ahead of the reunion with its former star striker Robert Lewandowski.
The delicate duel against Spanish giant FC Barcelona on Tuesday evening comes near a trendsetting issue for not only coach Julian Nagelsmann but also the Bavarians’ future transfer policy.
The flood of successful stories swapping over from Spain is increasing tensions around the 2020 treble winner.
Nine goals and two assists in six competitive games, delivered by the 34-year-old Pole, are fueling a debate if the reigning German champion can survive this season’s Champions League campaign without a box-striker.
Reports speak of Bayern being aware of the problem. The club tried to find a suitable replacement but failed. The transfer window reopening in the next winter break might provide an opportunity to close the gap.
While dissatisfaction about a failed national league start is growing for the Bavarians, concerns mount that Lewandowski might worsen the sporting crisis when returning to his former workplace.
Meeting the former goal supplier seems to come at an inopportune moment, as Nagelsmann is struggling to please his squad equipped with around 20 internationals.
Aside from three draws, the demands of stars to enjoy more playing time has led to Nagelsmann’s first crisis in his second year in charge.
“He has to find his way and learn as a young coach. He never had to deal with a squad of that quality before,” Bayern’s sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said.
Reports speak of irritation among the team’s leaders due to their coach blaming players for poor performances while not admitting he has his part in it.
The renewed tactics such as relying on a 4-2-2-2 system with constantly rotating forwards are only progressing slowly, and the teams’ attacking efforts lack speed and determination.
Former Liverpool star Sadio Mane is regarded to cover more of a wing job. Serge Gnabry finds himself in a poor condition, while Kingsley Coman is sidelined due to an injury. Thomas Muller didn’t come up with a satisfying goal record with one in six games.
It seemed up to 19-year-old Jamal Musiala (four league goals) and Leroy Sane (two league goals and one in Champions League) to carry out the scoring job on a lower level.
While Salihamidzic is claiming to be prepared for Lewandowski, the Pole’s Bayern successors have difficulties in replacing him and developing similar greediness in the box.
The clash against Barca comes near an important stress test regarding Bayern’s Lewandowski-less future.