Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann says he is unsure why Leroy Sane has struggled for form this season, acknowledging that the winger has been far from his best in recent weeks.

However, Nagelsmann also hailed Sane's "incredible qualities' and backed him to improve, rejecting criticism of his frustrated reaction to being substituted in a 1-0 win over Augsburg.

Sane played 65 minutes of the Bundesliga leaders' hard-fought victory but managed just one shot and four touches in the visitors' penalty area before being replaced by Kingsley Coman.

A late penalty from Robert Lewandowski was enough to extend Bayern's unbeaten league run to seven games, but the former Manchester City winger's below-par display marked his fifth consecutive league game without a goal.

After the victory, the Bayern coach admitted he was perplexed by Sane's poor form but backed him to get back to his best and hailed the 26-year-old's "incredible" ability. 

"I like Leroy very much, as a person and as a player. Everyone knows that he has incredible qualities," Nagelsmann said.

"He is self-critical enough and knows himself that he hasn't recently played well. I don't know exactly why.

"He's had ups and downs throughout his career. I support him completely."

Sane has scored seven goals in 28 Bundesliga appearances this season, with only Lewandowski (32) and fellow winger Serge Gnabry (11) netting more often for the perennial champions. 

However, the latest of Sane's league goals came in a 1-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in mid-February, and the 26-year-old cut a frustrated figure when replaced against Augsburg, appearing to shake Nagelsmann's hand half-heartedly before making his way to the bench.

Nagelsmann, however, refused to criticise Sane for his reaction, and was keen to move swiftly on from the incident.

"I'm not angry, we don't have to make a headline out of it," Nagelsmann added.

Bayern are back in Champions League action on Tuesday as they attempt to recover from a 1-0 first-leg loss to Villareal when they welcome Unai Emery's team to Bavaria.

Sane has been in much better form on the European stage, recording six goals and six assists in the competition this season. Since Opta records began in 2003-04, those 12 goal contributions are the joint-most managed by a German player in one Champions League campaign, along with Mario Gomez in 2011-12 (12 goals, also playing for Bayern).

Bayern Munich restored their nine-point lead at the Bundesliga summit thanks to Robert Lewandowski's penalty in a late 1-0 win over Bavarian neighbours Augsburg.

The hosts were beaten 1-0 by Villarreal in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie in midweek and were frustrated for 82 minutes at Allianz Arena on Saturday.

Just when Bayern looked to be heading for a first league blank since January 2020, Lewandowski's header hit Reece Oxford's arm and the striker stepped up to convert from the spot.

Bayern have now won three league games in a row and retain a healthy lead over Borussia Dortmund, who beat Stuttgart 2-0 on Friday, ahead of the sides meeting in two weeks.

 

Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann says he is "happy" the Bundesliga leaders will not be stripped of their victory over Freiburg following their 12-man mix-up.

The German top-flight champions fielded an additional player briefly during Saturday's 4-1 league win, with Kingsley Coman staying on despite Nagelsmann making a double substitution.

Freiburg reluctantly lodged an appeal to the German Football Association (DFB) for their opponent to forfeit the result, though Nagelsmann may have been more preoccupied with a surprise midweek defeat.

Bayern were off the pace at Villarreal in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final as they fell to a 1-0 loss, but a positive decision for the Bavarian giants on the DFB's ruling was confirmed on Friday.

The league has decided to uphold the original result against Freiburg and the former RB Leizpig coach expressed his satisfaction after seeing the points preserved ahead of Saturday's game with Augsburg.

"I'm happy we keep the points," he told reporters at a pre-match news conference. "I think that's quite normal.

"What's important to me [is that] I'm in no way disappointed with Freiburg. The contest against the result has not changed that."

Bayern take a nine-point lead into their clash at Allianz Arena, but could well be more focused upon their return leg against Unai Emery's Villarreal in Europe.

Nagelsmann, however, says that both games are vital for him, laying out that he intends to rotate his side in order to help his squad find rhythm across two crucial games.

"We have a very important game on Tuesday, probably the most important game of the season," he stated. "But [in] the Bundesliga, we also have to give players some rhythm.

"We will certainly rotate on a few positions. We will let Niklas Sule play from start, we will let [Leon Goretzka] play from the start.

"Alphonso Davies will have a break and [we'll] give a couple [of other] players a little more rhythm for Tuesday.

"It's a very important game for us tomorrow that we are taking very seriously, and are determined and desperate to win."

One man expected to figure will be evergreen playmaker Thomas Muller, with the World Cup winner in line to feature against Augsburg.

If he does so, and if Bayern are victorious, the 32-year-old will become the first outfield player to amass 300 wins in the Bundesliga.

Promising United States striker Ricardo Pepi has joined Augsburg from FC Dallas for a reported €18million ($20m) fee plus add ons.

Pepi, 18, impressed for Dallas in the 2021 season as he scored 13 times in MLS – the joint-most ever managed by a teenager in the competition.

The forward is also the youngest player to ever score in consecutive World Cup qualifiers for the USA and has previously been linked to some of Europe's top clubs, such as Borussia Dortmund and Ajax.

But Pepi has opted to move to Augsburg, who have signed the talented teenager on a five-and-a-half-year contract, while holding the option to extend for a further year.

The transfer represents a club-record deal for Dallas as Pepi dethrones Alphonso Davies' move from Vancouver Whitecaps to Bayern Munich in 2018 as the most expensive outgoing homegrown player from MLS.

Upon confirmation of the deal on Monday, Pepi said: "Moving to Europe after the conclusion of the MLS season was my dream. 

"I believe FC Augsburg and the Bundesliga will prove the perfect settings for me to gain match practice at the top level as a youngster. 

"The efforts the FCA [Augsburg] club officials put in to sign me were really impressive. As a result, I felt right away that FCA was the right club for me. 

"I can't wait to meet my new teammates and I want to integrate into the team as quickly as possible. I can hardly wait to get going!"

Augsburg sit just a point above the relegation zone in the German top flight before they restart their Bundesliga campaign with a trip to Hoffenheim on Saturday.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's future is unclear having become frozen out.

The Gabon striker was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy last month and dropped by the club for disciplinary reasons and has not played since.

Aubameyang's future is a hot topic as the January transfer window opens.

TOP STORY - NEWCASTLE IN FOR JANUARY AUBA MOVE

Big-spending Newcastle have got in touch with Arsenal about a loan deal for outcast striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang claims The Mirror.

The Magpies want to sign 32-year-old Aubameyang on loan for the remainder of the season.

Newcastle would also look to sign Aubameyang, who is away at the African Cup of Nations, on a £20million off-season permanent deal.

 

ROUND-UP

- Teenage US international Ricardo Pepi is on the verge of joining Bundesliga club Augsburg claims Fabrizio Di Romano. The 18-year-old netted 13 goals for Dallas in the 2021 MLS season and is set for a medical on Sunday.

- Eddie Nketiah is being pursued by Bayer Leverkusen on a free transfer from Arsenal when his contract expires at the end of this season, reports The Sun.

- Sport reports that Brazilian giants Palmeiras are not interested in signing forward Philippe Coutinho as Barcelona try to shop him around in January.

- Axel Tuanzebe will join Napoli on loan from Manchester United until the end of the season, claims the Manchester Evening News. Tuanzebe is currently on loan at Aston Villa.

- The Sun claims that Manchester United's pursuit of Declan Rice has been boosted by West Ham's recent slide outside the Premier League top four.

Julian Nagelsmann and Thomas Muller vented their frustration at Bayern Munich's shock defeat to Augsburg by questioning the team's collective effectiveness in defensive situations.

Bayern were dominant for almost the entire match on Friday but still lost 2-1, with Mads Pedersen and Andre Hahn putting Augsburg 2-0 up before Robert Lewandowski pulled a goal back just before half-time.

While the second half was even more one-sided in Bayern's favour than the first, they did not exactly pepper Rafal Gikiewicz's goal, with the visitors' expected goals (xG) value only reaching a modest 1.4.

On the other hand, Augsburg scored twice from an xG value of just 0.6, highlighting just how clinical they were – though questions look set to be asked of the Bayern defence.

 

This was the fourth time in five matches – a run that includes a 5-0 defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach in the DFB-Pokal – Bayern have conceded at least twice in a match, while they have now let in 13 Bundesliga goals from 9.8 xG against.

Only Greuther Furth (8.6) and Hertha Berlin (6.6) have worse xG against differentials than Bayern (3.2) this season, and Opta's expected goals on target conceded (xGOT) data suggests Manuel Neuer is a big part of the problem, putting him at fault for roughly 3.4 goals – the fourth-worst in the division.

Neuer failed to keep out Hahn's header despite getting a hand to it on Friday, though Muller and Nagelsmann pointed the finger at the defence as a collective.

 

"The first half was bad, very bad and in the second half you could see that we wanted to turn it around, but maybe we didn't deserve that little bit of luck in front of goal," Muller told DAZN.

"This is a bitter setback for our confidence… [but] what wasn't good today should get better.

"I think when you have the feeling in every game that you can score three or four goals, you lose a bit of hunger defensively. We noticed that over and over again in the past few games."

Head coach Nagelsmann added: "We're conceding the goals the same way throughout the season.

"We discussed it yesterday, and today we conceded both goals the same way again. The opponent didn't really have any moments of brilliance and still scored two goals. It was the same against Frankfurt.

"I think the important thing is that if there's not much going on in attack in a game, you must be more stable at the back. One impacts the other. 

"Overall we didn't create enough and didn't have enough shots on goal."

Bayern Munich suffered a shock 2-1 defeat away to Augsburg in the Bundesliga on Friday, giving Borussia Dortmund the chance to close the gap at the top.

Heading into the weekend, Bayern were the team with the highest expected goals tally in the league this season (34.1), while Augsburg had the lowest (10.4), but the champions' finishing left a lot to be desired as they aimed just four shots on target.

Bayern had it all to do after falling 2-0 down to goals from Mads Pedersen and Andre Hahn, although Robert Lewandowski at least ensured they did not go into the break chasing a two-goal deficit.

The visitors enjoyed 80.7 per cent of the possession after half-time, but they struggled to convert that into meaningful opportunities that worked Rafal Gikiewicz in the Augsburg goal, with Julian Nagelsmann's side slipping to their second league defeat of the season.

Despite Bayern's domination, Augsburg went in front in the 23rd minute as Lucas Hernandez only partially intercepted Iago's cross and Pedersen reacted quickest to blast into the bottom-right corner.

Another Iago cross caused havoc soon after, with Hahn rising above Hernandez to nod in despite Manuel Neuer getting a hand to it.

Bayern's response was better this time, however, quickly pulling one back through Lewandowski's well-taken volley after Thomas Muller – making his 600th club appearance – flicked on Benjamin Pavard's cross.

But Lewandowski was not so ruthless just after the break, snatching at a close-range chance that he sliced inexplicably over the crossbar.

Lewandowski wasted another glorious opportunity inside the final 10 minutes, shooting straight at Gikiewicz from around eight yards in what proved to be Bayern's final opportunity. 

 

Thomas Muller has become the first outfield player to reach 600 appearances for Bayern Munich since the formation of the Bundesliga in 1963 after featuring against Augsburg on Friday.

Muller came through Bayern's academy and was handed his Bundesliga debut by Jurgen Klinsmann in August 2008 but made only four appearances out of a possible 34 that season.

Louis van Gaal's arrival as coach prompted Muller's breakthrough, and he has missed just 29 Bundesliga matches since the start of 2009-10, while he is the only player to play in at least 28 matches in every campaign in that period.

Friday's match was his 395th Bundesliga outing, a tally bettered by no one since he made his debut. Despite his longevity, Muller's class and influence show no signs of depleting.

This season, he has already been involved in 17 open-play sequences leading to a goal in the Bundesliga, with only Mohamed Salah (20) bettering that total across Europe's big five leagues.

Similarly, Muller's open-play chances and secondary chances (the pass before the assist for a shot or goal) tally of 51 is eight more than anyone else in the big five leagues, with Bruno Fernandes second on 43.

At the age of 32, Muller may now have sights on Bayern's all-time appearance record of 700, set by goalkeeper Sepp Maier.

 

Borussia Dortmund head coach Marco Rose asked to ease the pressure on Erling Haaland and let him recover from a thigh injury amid question marks over his availability for Norway ahead of their World Cup qualifiers.

Haaland was absent again as Dortmund defeated Augsburg 2-1 in the Bundesliga thanks to goals from Raphael Guerreiro and Julian Brandt on Saturday.

Dortmund sensation Haaland also missed last weekend's defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach and the Champions League victory over Sporting CP on Tuesday.

As Norway prepare for qualifiers against Turkey (October 8) and Montenegro (October 11) on the road to Qatar 2022, Rose stressed that both the national team and Dortmund need the 21-year-old forward back.

"It is not my job to finish someone's hope," Rose said following the victory over Augsburg. "All I can tell you about is the status quo. Erling has been trying to play for days now. Who knows him also knows that he always wants to play.

"He didn't make it for the Champions League. It started in Gladbach and didn't work today. And he told me very timely 'Manager, I would love to play, but I can't move the way I want to. I can't even walk'. 

"This is the status quo we are working with, and I think it would be clever if we could all stop speculating. I understand the Norwegian federation. He is a human being, not a machine. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. We have to get him healthy for Borussia Dortmund but also for the Norway national team.

"We had two games without him now and at the moment, things don't look good for Norway either. This is also what Erling says, and we should release the pressure and not ask about his status every day. We should let him recover."

Haaland has scored 68 goals in 67 appearances for Dortmund since arriving from Salzburg in January 2020.

The in-demand Dortmund star opened the season by scoring 11 goals across seven games in all competitions.

Without Haaland, Dortmund recorded their eighth straight Bundesliga home triumph as Marco Reus teed up Brandt for the 51st-minute winner.

Dortmund captain Reus is the third Bundesliga player since detailed data collection to assist 100 goals in competitive matches after Thomas Muller (176) and Franck Ribery (132).

Dortmund are second in the Bundesliga, a point behind rivals Bayern Munich, who are due to host Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.

Borussia Dortmund boss Marco Rose has welcomed Gareth Southgate's decision to leave Jude Bellingham out of England's latest squad.

Teenage midfielder Bellingham was a surprise omission from Southgate's 23-man group on Thursday after impressing for Dortmund in his second campaign at the club.

Southgate explained he left out the 18-year-old due to fears of burnout, with Manchester United's Mason Greenwood overlooked for the same reason.

Bellingham's 802 minutes of playing time this term is the most of any England-qualified player in Europe's top five leagues when taking all competitions into account.

Since making his Dortmund debut on September 14 last year, the Birmingham City academy product has played 56 matches, 43 of those coming from the start.

Rose is therefore grateful that the youngster will be given a chance to rest up.

"I think it's a good decision," Rose said at a news conference on Friday previewing his side's Bundesliga clash with Augsburg. "The reason is obvious to me.

"In spite of his capabilities, he is an 18-year-old and has very little rest. We have to take care of the boys and not burn them out. That's why I welcome the decision."

 

Bellingham's team-mate Erling Haaland will play no part in Saturday's visit of Augsburg as he continues to recover from a thigh injury that has ruled him out of the last two games.

Haaland has been named in Norway's squad for this month's World Cup qualifiers against Turkey and Montenegro, but Rose revealed the striker will not link up with his national side.

"We're going to keep him here for the time being and make the best possible use of the time," Rose said.

"He's asked every day when he can return, so the rest will do him good. He's going to stay here for the time being."

The loss of Haaland for another game will be a major blow for Dortmund, as he has scored 68 goals in 67 games since making his debut in January 2020.

Only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski, with 86 goals in 71 games in all competitions, has scored more times during that period among players from Europe's top five leagues.

Dortmund have won their past three Bundesliga home matches against Augsburg, with their only defeat in the last 10 meetings coming in February 2015. 

When we look ahead to the Olympics, we usually think about track & field sports, swimming, cycling, maybe even wrestling and boxing.

Given it dominates so much of the sporting agenda for the rest of the year, football may not be among those sports we initially associate with the Olympics, but it has offered numerous stars the opportunity to show their talents to a global audience and to potentially take home a coveted medal.

Of course, the Olympic football tournament is geared more towards lesser-established players, given the age-restriction rules in place.

While teams are usually allowed no more than three players over the age of 23, that age limit has been increased to 24 so not to penalise those around the cut-off who may well have missed out as a result of the 12-month delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Superstars such as Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi may be missing, but there are still plenty of familiar faces. Barcelona's Pedri will be involved after starring for Spain at Euro 2020; Brazil great Dani Alves is joined by Arsenal and Everton forwards Gabriel Martinelli and Richarlison; and dynamic Milan midfielder Franck Kessie will be the Ivory Coast's go-to man.

But there are plenty of other relatively unheralded talents ready to make you sit up and take note. Below, Stats Perform takes a look at 10 of them.

Facundo Medina, 22, centre-back – Argentina

It's fair to say Lens defender Medina has enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence. The French side brought him in from Club Atletico Talleres just last July and he's already being mentioned as a potential target for clubs like Manchester United.

While he may not be the most physically imposing central defender, he's a good technician, which is demonstrated by his ease on the ball – only three Ligue 1 centre-backs (more than 1,000 minutes played) embarked on more ball carries per 90 minutes (20) than Medina, while his average of 56 successful passes per game was more than any of his team-mates.

Bryan Gil, 20, winger – Spain

La Roja's squad is packed with familiar names – as many as six were at Euro 2020, and that doesn't include the likes of Marco Asensio, Carlos Soler and Dani Ceballos. But of the players with less global recognition, old-fashioned left-winger Bryan is arguably the most exciting.

He just completed a very encouraging loan spell away from Sevilla with Eibar, where his direct and brave style of play was frequently on display, with only Lionel Messi, Javi Galan and Yannick Carrasco attempting more dribbles than him (132). In January he became only the second player born this century to score a LaLiga brace, and he won his first senior Spain caps this year.

 

Diego Lainez, 21, winger – Mexico

It feels like Lainez has been tipped for a big future for a long time now – after all, he first burst on to the scene with Club America four years ago. Two-and-a-half years into his time in LaLiga with Real Betis, he's yet to really establish himself with only 13 of his 48 league appearances coming as a starter. He's still not scored a goal.

But there's no doubting he's a talent. In 2020-21, he attempted a dribble every 17 minutes, which was a record among Betis players and ahead of even Nabil Fekir (21 mins). Lainez is an entertainer and clearly gifted, but perhaps lacking consistency in his end product. Who knows, as one of the more talented players in the Mexico squad, being seen as a go-to player may aid his quest for maturity.

Teji Savanier, 29, central midfielder – France

Savanier is the odd one out in this list, given he's the only one who actually counts towards an over-age quota, though it could be argued that it's to players like him that playing at the Olympics may matter the most. Savanier's never even played for France's youth teams, let alone the senior side, and he only made his top-flight bow as recently as 2018, but he's one of those central midfielders that's a joy to watch with his wonderful ability on the ball.

He has completed 58.4 per cent of his 279 dribbles in Ligue 1 since July 2018, which is bettered by only three players (more than 150 attempts) in the same period. For greater context, Neymar's completion rate in that time is 52.5 per cent. Savanier should also provide France with a threat at set-pieces, as only Benjamin Bourigeaud created more chances (40) from such situations than the Montpellier star (37) in 2020-21.

 

Thiago Almada, 20, attacking midfielder – Argentina

La Albiceleste's squad boasts numerous talented young attacking players – Ezequiel Barco, Pedro de la Vega, Ezequiel Ponce, but Almada's arguably rated highest of the lot.

A diminutive attacking midfielder from Carlos Tevez's old neighbourhood in Buenos Aires, Fuerte Apache, Almada is skilful, explosive and creative. Among players born this century, Almada boasts the best chances created per game frequency (two) in the Copa Libertadores (at least two games played) this season, as well as being the youngest player to have netted at least twice in the competition in 2021.

Claudinho, 24, forward – Brazil

All roads point to Europe for Claudinho, who looks poised to be the first major export of Red Bull Bragantino, the energy drink giant's Brazilian club. While no move has been confirmed yet, it seems only a matter of time before RB Leipzig look to bring him over to Germany.

 

After all, he was the joint-top scorer in the 2020 Brasileirao (18 goals), with his finishing abilities highlighted by the fact a league-high seven of those were scored from outside the box. Claudinho also created 25 more chances than anyone else in the division, and scooped both the Young Player of the Year and MVP awards.

 

Nathanael Mbuku, 19, winger – France

He may not necessarily be a starter for Les Bleus, given they've plenty of attacking talent in the squad, but at the very least left-winger Mbuku could be an interesting option from the bench. Reims are reported to already value him at €15million, and he has previous when it comes to excelling in national team colours – he netted five goals in six games as France finished third at the 2019 Under-17 World Cup.

Mbuku enjoyed a smattering of Ligue 1 appearances that season, though it was in 2020-21 that he truly established himself, making 28 starts – that was tied with Eduardo Camavinga for the most by a player born in 2002 or after. He caught the eye with his ability to beat a man, completing a highly respectable 58.1 per cent of his 74 dribbles last term, a completion rate bettered by only 10 players who attempted at least 70.

Felix Uduokhai, 23, centre-back – Germany

Wolfsburg plucked Uduokhai from 1860 Munich in 2017 with much expected of him. He fell well out of favour in his second season before moving on loan to Augsburg, who triggered their purchase option on him last year. Since moving to Bavaria, he's hardly looked back.

He earned his first senior call-up to the Germany team in November and now there is chatter that some of the Bundesliga's biggest clubs are circling for him again. Whoever gets Uduokhai will land an imposing centre-back whose 102 aerial wins was the fourth-highest in the league last term, while only Amos Pieper (160) bettered his 157 clearances.

 

Brenno, 22, goalkeeper – Brazil

For years, goalkeeper was considered the only position where Brazil struggled to develop world-class players, though Alisson and Ederson have firmly disproved that notion and Brenno could be another to keep an eye on.

In the 2021 Brasileirao, Brenno is averaging the fourth-most amount of saves per 90 minutes (3.5) among those to have played at least four times, and is reportedly interesting Portuguese clubs. A solid showing in Japan might see a potential transfer sped up.

Amad Diallo, 19, winger – Ivory Coast

Manchester United fans will be eager to get a good look at Amad during the Olympics, given they only got glimpses of him in 2020-21 after joining from Atalanta. Amid those eight appearances, he certainly showed flashes of his exciting ability and silky footwork, but they will hope to see some performances of a little more substance.

As much as anything, it could be an opportunity for Amad to earn himself a loan move or prove to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer he's worth keeping around. Jadon Sancho's arrival will likely further impact his exposure to first-team football, but impressing in Japan might encourage his manager to use him as a regular back up to the England international, with Mason Greenwood moved into a central position.

Robert Lewandowski broke Gerd Muller's long-standing record for goals scored in a single Bundesliga season with a last-gasp effort as Bayern Munich routed Augsburg 5-2 on a day of fond farewells.

The prolific Pole could only watch on as an own goal plus efforts from Serge Gnabry, Joshua Kimmich and Kingsley Coman had the champions flying at half-time of the season finale at the Allianz Arena.

But, after consolations from Andre Hahn and Florian Niederlechner, Lewandowski followed in when Rafal Gikiewicz spilled Leroy Sane's effort to make it 41 top-flight goals for the season with the last kick of the game.

It was a dramatic ending to an emotional outing, which was the last for head coach Hansi Flick and modern-day Bayern greats David Alaba, Jerome Boateng and Javi Martinez.

Robert Lewandowski was brought off in the second half of Bayern Munich's edgy 1-0 victory against Augsburg as a precaution, head coach Hansi Flick confirmed.

Lewandowski scored the 13th-minute penalty that ultimately secured the three points for Bundesliga champions Bayern at the Augsburg Arena on Wednesday.

However, superstar striker Lewandowski was substituted after 67 minutes and Bayern were left grateful for a spot-kick miss from Alfred Finnbogason midweek.

Flick explained the surprising decision was because Lewandowski has been managing an issue with his thigh.

"[It was] to be on the safe side because Robert is very important to us. We didn't want to take any risks," Flick said in quotes reported by SID.

"He already said this morning that he could feel something in the thigh muscles on the back, but [he felt] that he could control it quite well."

Bayern were brilliant in the opening period but struggled in the second half in a theme of only playing well in patches that has become rather familiar in recent weeks.

Back-to-back wins and a first clean sheet since October followed a loss to Borussia Monchengladbach and a shock DFB-Pokal exit to second-tier Holsten Kiel, with Bayern's performances well below their best.

Flick, though, said even a team like Bayern – who won a superb treble in 2019-20 – can hit a "limit" in what has been a testing period.

"The team played an outstanding year, at some point they too are at their limit," he added to Sky Germany, with Bayern four points clear atop the table. 

"It was a bit of luck against Freiburg in the end, but very important. We [wanted] to add more today and take three points with us to Munich."

Bayern Munich's luck was in as a story of two penalties was the main tale in their 1-0 win over Augsburg in Tuesday's Bundesliga contest.

Robert Lewandowski calmly slotted home from the spot after 13 minutes at Augsburg Arena and missed a glut of chances in a first half dominated by the champions.

It was a completely different outlook for Bayern after the break, though, and Hansi Flick's side were left breathing a sigh of relief when Alfred Finnbogason struck the post with a penalty of his own 15 minutes from time.

The end result means Bayern remain four points clear at the top but Flick will want to see fewer of the Jekyll-and-Hyde performances that have been on display in recent weeks from his side.

Rani Khedira's clumsy kick on Lucas Hernandez allowed Lewandowski to find the bottom-right corner with a cool 13th-minute penalty that looked like setting the tone for a dominant win.

Serge Gnabry was denied by the busy Rafal Gikiewicz and Thomas Muller put the rebound narrowly wide as Bayern peppered the hosts' goal.

Gnabry was kept out again by Gikiewicz before teeing up Lewandowski, who was guilty of wastefulness a couple of times, with the Pole only hitting the outside of the post with the goal gaping.

A second half completely at odds with the first saw Bayern struggle to create openings and Daniel Caligiuri's long-range effort would have briefly had away hearts in mouths before rising comfortably over.

There was an even greater left-off shortly after when substitute Finnbogason fluffed his lines from the spot after Benjamin Pavard had been pinged for handball from Iago's flick in the area.

Muller had the ball in the net but Jamal Musiala clearly ran the ball out in the act of setting him up, before Florian Niederlechner skewed wide and Felix Uduokhai headed over in further late scares that a lacklustre Bayern ultimately survived.

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