Domain Registration

Tuchel’s miracle dashed as Bayern go out of Champions League

  • April 20, 2023

Thomas Tuchel warned us this would happen. As Erling Haaland collected Kevin de Bruyne’s pass, showed Dayot Upamecano the shoulder, and lashed the ball into the back corner, it was a brutal reminder of exactly what Bayern are missing. 

Haaland skied a penalty in the first half, but it takes more than that to knock the Norwegian off his stride. He is a ruthless finisher and the kind of striker that until last summer Bayern possessed in Robert Lewandowski. The Pole departed, Bayern didn’t replace him, and on Wednesday night Germany’s biggest club were left trying to reach a Champions League semifinal with an attack that simply doesn’t cut it at the highest level. 

“In this competition, it’s about the details,” Pep Guardiola said after the game, but possessing a top-class striker is surely more than a detail. Tuchel spoke before and after the game about “brutal punishment,” but what exactly was being punished? One can point to Upamecano’s mistakes in Manchester and Munich or the fact that Thomas Müller only played 30 minutes across the two legs — Tuchel has to answer for that — but this was a defeat made possible by Bayern’s deeper strategic failures. 

Erling Haaland scores for Manchester City against Bayern Munich
Haaland’s 57th minute strike killed Bayern off.Image: Robin Rudel/Pressefoto Rudel/IMAGO

Under the watch of CEO Oliver Kahn, sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic is responsible for Bayern’s recruitment. In sanctioning the sale of Lewandowski without stumping up the cash for an adequate replacement — Haaland himself was available, Napoli’s Victor Osimhen too — there could never have been a realistic expectation that Bayern would be capable of competing with the best. The firing of Julian Nagelsmann was merely a deflection tactic from Salihamidžić’s own fundamental mistakes.

Sane a symbol of Bayern’s weakness

Bayern’s best chance to plant the seed of doubt in City’s mind came during a frenetic first half that saw the hosts create multiple chances. Leroy Sane, a player sold by Guardiola at City and retained in the starting line-up by Tuchel despite registering only one in his last 15 appearances, was sent clean through in the 17th minute by Jamal Musiala. With Ederson advancing, Sane flashed his shot across the City goal and just wide of the far post. Guardiola exhaled, knowing that Bayern’s big chance had come and gone. Tuchel grimaced.

Bayern continued to create chances but none of them were seized. A team whose front line was led by Eric Maxim Choupo Moting and supported by Sane and Kingsley Coman looked disjointed and short on confidence. It was put to Tuchel before the game that Bayern had scored only three goals in their previous four games and that those goals had been scored by defenders. Tuchel responded by saying that the “fine tuning was missing” and that Bayern “lacked easiness and confidence in front of goal, we think too much.” That seemed every bit as true after the game as before, with Joshua Kimmich’s late penalty coming too late for the thousands of Bayern fans who had already left for the taxi ranks.

Bayern ‘miracle’ fails to materialize

Bayern Munich hired Tuchel with two aims in mind. One, to expedite them toward the Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League titles. And two, to stop Real Madrid or Paris Saint-Germain from getting him. Four weeks on from replacing Nagelsmann as coach, the protectionist element of Bayern’s plan has worked, but Bayern are out of the German Cup, now out of the Champions League, and the Bundesliga is in the balance.

Guardiola and City captain Ilkay Gündogan had praised Bayern’s mentality and ability to overturn their 3-0 deficit pre-game, but their politeness had felt like a stretch. Tuchel was more honest, claiming Bayern needed a “miracle” and calling on the Bayern fans to turn the Allianz Arena into an incubator for an epic comeback.

Thomas Müller comes on as a sub against Man City
Thomas Müller only played 30 minutes of the 180 against CityImage: Ulmer/Teamfoto/IMAGO

The Allianz Arena was rocking, but as soon as Haaland put Upamecano on the floor and rippled the back of the net, the atmosphere fell flat. Bayern’s supporters knew that goal had killed them off and out of the Champions League at this stage for the third straight season. Tuchel cut a frustrated figure, ending the game standing on the terraces with the fans after receiving a second yellow card for overexuberance.

Tuchel left to pick up the pieces

For Tuchel, a man who cites Guardiola as his greatest influence, these defeats by City will have hurt like few others in his career. He may be new in the role but by taking on his dream job at such a critical stage of the season, the Bavarian was banking on his own powers of influence; to repeat his trick at Chelsea, where he waltzed into Stamford Bridge and less than six months later won the Champions League. The big difference is that the man he replaced, Frank Lampard, was Chelsea’s problem. Upgrading to a world-class coach was a greater upgrade than any player Chelsea could have signed.

That was never the case to the same degree at Bayern. While Manuel Neuer and Nagelsmann may not have seen eye-to-eye and Lewandowski decided that Europa League football with Barcelona was preferable to another season of pressing under Nagelsmann at Bayern, the coach was still holding things together without the full support of the board.

Thomas Tuchel ends the game standing on the terraces with the fans after being sent off
Tuchel ended the game standing on the terraces with the fans after being sent offImage: Adam Davy/PA Images/IMAGO

We’ll never know how things would have unfolded if Nagelsmann hadn’t been fired, but Bayern’s results in the past month have bolstered Nagelsmann’s standing. Once Tuchel is given time to assemble a team in his own image, there’s every chance Bayern will return to their imperious best and the club’s board will point to the long-term thinking behind the decision to change coach in late March while still fighting for the three titles they covet.

Bayern are a world-class striker and a couple of defensive reinforcements away from being back in business, but Tuchel doesn’t yet know anything about Bayern that Nagelsmann didn’t. As Nagelsmann plots his next move in management, he will have watched their dismantling by City with a wry smile. The challenge of making this club competitive again now falls on Tuchel’s shoulders, but their problems go deeper than the identity of the coach.

Edited by: Sean Sinico

Article source:

Related News


Get best offer
%d bloggers like this: