In this footballing climate, what are Bayern Munich and where do they sit in its pecking order?

From Barcelona, to Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus in recent years, the financial and footballing disparity between Europe's elite and the rest has warped perception. Lifting the league trophy at the end of the season no longer provides safety for a head coach.

Even then, Bayern are an extreme example. In the six years since Pep Guardiola left for Manchester City, they have gone through six head coaches, despite winning the Bundesliga in every season over that same period.

Bayern have been global standard-bearers for nearly four decades. Where other clubs and leagues have had lull periods away from the very highest levels of European football, they have consistently been in contention for silverware, even in relatively weak periods.

Just as importantly, though, the superiority clubs like Bayern now enjoy almost automatically dictates they will dominate possession in many games, irrespective of the ideology of the coach in charge and whether their teams can function with the ball as a consequence.

Niko Kovac's first season in 2018-19 was a good example of this. Bayern came nowhere near functioning in possession relative to the array of talent they had and still – along with some aid from Borussia Dortmund's regression to the mean after initial xG over-performance under Lucien Favre – managed an 11-point turnaround from third place in February to win the Bundesliga.

Meanwhile, they were comprehensively beaten by Liverpool in the last 16 of the Champions League with the majority of possession. Things declined even further under Kovac in his second season, before Hansi Flick took over the head coaching role, conquered Europe and subsequently replaced Joachim Low as the German national team coach at the end of the 2020-21 season.

This is the wider context that must be considered for Julian Nagelsmann's first season and what follows, because both club and international football ultimately acts within a continuum. Ahead of this weekend's Klassiker, much like that first season under Kovac, there's a dissonance that will accompany Bayern's title win.

Ultimately, a 10th consecutive Bundesliga title will not wash away the taste of Bayern's meek elimination at the hands of Villarreal in the Champions League quarter-finals. Those two legs were a microcosm of numerous aspects concerning this Bayern season – their true capacity in possession relative to the level of opposition, Nagelsmann's continual switching between 4-2-3-1 and 3-4-3 formations, and finally from a standpoint of net gain, whether he's really getting the most out of the extraordinary creative forces that are Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski.

It is hard to overstate how Muller and Lewandowski provided more than goals and assists for Bayern under Flick. The utilisation of that duo was integral to the team's very functioning in possession, especially with Thiago Alcantara missing significant portions of that post-lockdown run late in the 2019-20 season. Kingsley Coman's decisive goal in the 2020 Champions League final against PSG was a perfect picture of the team when all three of Lewandowski, Muller and Thiago played – having initially tried to cover Muller, Leandro Paredes had to scramble, but it was too late, as Thiago fired his pass into Joshua Kimmich and Bayern got up the pitch.

Their combined touches in open play per 90 minutes under respective coaches makes for a good starting point. Under Kovac, Lewandowski and Muller held a combined 98.19 touches and 3.35 chances created from open play per 90 in all competitions. Flick's arrival leads to a dramatic spike for the two in both categories, with 107.6 touches in open play and 4.53 chances created in open play per 90.

 

 

Father Time will dictate an inevitable decline for the two as they approach 35, but more pertinently, Nagelsmann's approach has led to a return to their numbers under Kovac, with 98.59 touches per match and 3.85 chances created from open play between the two in all competitions this season. Then there's the discrepancy in eventual shot location.

The difference lies in involvement. Under Flick, Muller and Lewandowski effectively played as two strikers in a 4-4-2, while the wingers kept the defensive line pinned back, allowing the two with sufficient space to retreat and operate between the lines. Especially with midfielders like Kimmich and Leon Goretzka who do not like receiving the ball in tight areas, it was a critical component of Bayern's play and enabled them to open up the pitch.

Kimmich's increase in chance creation – his 2.83 per 90 this season is his highest out of the last four seasons in all competitions – is arguably born of the fact he is now Bayern's set-piece taker. His chance creation in open play has actually gone down from last season's 1.68 to 1.44, despite an increase in touches from 100.8 to 105.85.

 

 

Lewandowski and Muller's comparatively higher positioning and primary objective of threat behind the defensive line under Nagelsmann frankly makes the switching between 4-2-3-1 and 3-4-3 irrelevant, because the 34-year-old has taken away the very thing that made Bayern function to begin with – the pair's ability to incorporate as well as get on the end of moves. Jamal Musiala's deployment in a 3-4-3 in the second leg against Villarreal only managed to clog the middle of the pitch up even further.

The player who has suffered the most with this change, however, is Serge Gnabry. His combined xG+xA figure of 0.92 in 2019-20 has dramatically decreased to 0.69 this year, while the middle of the pitch has been completely closed off to him, something evident in his dribble progression.

 

 

It all relates to the eventuality of Bayern's shot location and quality. Shot volume in Nagelsmann's first season has gone up to 20.13 in comparison to the 18.08 of that treble season under Flick, but they are shooting from further away, and with no increase in xG per shot. Against better defences, teams that hold high volumes of possession but ultimately struggle to play through the middle of the pitch are eventually found out. That has been the case this year, in Europe and particular in domestic losses to Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Monchengladbach.

This all exists amid the backdrop of Bayern Munich's waning financial power and status as a destination in relation to the rest of Europe's elite. Bayern centre-back Niklas Sule is set to leave for arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund. Emerging stars from within the Bundesliga who traditionally would have been guaranteed to end up at Sabener Strasse such as Dortmund's Erling Haaland, or RB Leipzig's Cristopher Nkunku and Josko Gvardiol, appear destined for elsewhere.

In the meantime, Bayern are reportedly haggling with Ajax over the release of Ryan Gravenberch who, despite the hype, arguably will not transform their midfield – much like Corentin Tolisso and Marc Roca.

There is also the small matter of Lewandowski's contract not being renewed and running the risk of expiring at the end of next season.

Sustained success can run the risk of providing diminishing returns, much like Juventus discovered in Italy. The question for Bayern is how to avoid it both as a club and under Nagelsmann, but can they?

Erling Haaland's talents in attack make him "an absolute weapon" for Borussia Dortmund, says boss Marco Rose, favourably comparing the forward to Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski.

The two Bundesliga heavyweights meet this weekend in the latest edition of Der Klassiker, with Julian Nagelsmann's side able to claim the title against their biggest rivals with victory.

Much of the result will likely hinge on the performances of two of European football's most talismanic strikers, in Poland star Lewandowski and Norway forward Haaland.

The latter looks set to play out his final few games for the Black and Yellow over the coming weeks, and is widely expected to seal a major move during the close-season to a European rival with Manchester City heavily tipped to win the race for his signature.

But his contributions have been invaluable for Dortmund and head coach Rose, who hailed his prowess when speaking about him and Lewandowski ahead of their encounter.

"They have different strengths," he stated. "Lewandowski serves all facets with more experience and drops a lot.

"He's in a good position in the box too though. His first contact is world class.

"[But] Erling has also made progress this season. In the transition game, he is an absolute weapon.

"His header game has also gotten much better. When the ball comes into the box, both know exactly where the goal is."

Dortmund's last Bundesliga Klassiker victory came back in 2018, when they defeated Bayern 3-2 on home soil under Lucien Favre.

Rose knows it is due time that his side rise to the occasion in the Bundesliga's biggest fixture, and that the merit of the occasion drives them on to deliver.

"It's a classic," Rose added. "It's also about reputation. A win in Munich is always good. We don't want to just defend.

"Bayern can become champions on Saturday and will perform accordingly. We want to prevent that.

"We played a good game last Saturday, we need that performance at an even higher level and consistently over 90 minutes."

One of world football's hottest commodities, Erling Haaland, is reportedly set to join Manchester City in the next transfer window after agreeing to personal terms.

It has long been understood that Haaland would likely not return to Borussia Dortmund for another season, with the Bundesliga club entertaining offers from the world's biggest clubs.

Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain were considered Manchester City's biggest competition for the Norway forward's signature, but a massive contract, recent success and close personal ties to his father seem to have been the deciding factors.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND CHOOSES MANCHESTER CITY

The Daily Mail is reporting Haaland has agreed to a deal with Manchester City that will make him the highest-paid player in the Premier League at £500,000 per week.

With terms agreed, City are expected to trigger Haaland's £62.2million (€75m) release clause and sign him to a five-year deal, which could be announced in the next week.

His father, Alf-Inge Haaland, played at Manchester City from 2000-2003 and is said to have been "heavily involved in the negotiations".

 

ROUND-UP

– According to Goal, Real Madrid did not want to unsettle their dressing room by signing Haaland and making him the highest-paid player.

– Fichajes is reporting Real Madrid's attention will turn to Manchester United's Edinson Cavani now Haaland is out of the picture, while The Mirror claims Madrid have strong interest in Chelsea right-back Reece James.

Liverpool target Serge Gnabry is discussing a contract extension with Bayern Munich, according to Goal.

West Ham are hoping to add Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope, with the England international likely to leave the club if they are relegated, per the Daily Mail.

Arsenal are in the box seat to land Marco Asensio from Real Madrid after Milan rejected his wage demands, reports CalcioMercato.

Bayern Munich chief executive Oliver Kahn insists the club are "totally convinced" by head coach Julian Nagelsmann, while he hit out at the "cowardly" death threats towards the manager.

The Bundesliga side crashed out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage in midweek to Villarreal, leaving the German top-flight title as the only major trophy Nagelsmann can manage in his first season.

Bayern can restore their nine-point lead at the Bundesliga summit when they visit Arminia Bielefeld on Sunday, meaning the league would be almost secured with four games left to play after the weekend. 

However, Nagelsmann revealed in the build-up to the clash with Arminia that online abuse and threats, including towards his mother, have become commonplace in the wake of defeats for Bayern.

Kahn, speaking to German TV channel Sport1, acknowledged criticism in a high-pressure role is expected but says "limits are being far exceeded" with such threats.

"We all know it, we know what happens when FC Bayern is in this situation," he said. "That's part of it, you have to be able to deal with criticism.

"Here, however, limits are being exceeded, now far exceeded. What's going on with people who are sending death threats to other people out of anonymity?

"There is nothing more cowardly than discrediting other people out of anonymity. We will think about whether we can and must put a stop to it."

As for the success of the former RB Leipzig head coach Nagelsmann, who conceded the Bundesliga title alone was not enough at Bayern, Kahn fully supports the 34-year-old.

"We want to emphasise that we're totally convinced," he added on the Bayern boss. "We want to continue on this path with him. He knows what's important to us.

"In addition to the development of the younger players, you can see that [Jamal] Musiala is a positive development, you could also see that he pulled [Leroy] Sane out of the slump in form.

"That's what we expect from him. Of course, we also want to strengthen. We knew that Julian was a young coach, that's what we wanted too.

"We knew that there would be one or two setbacks and that's part of the path we want to take.

"Of course we always have the highest demands at Bayern Munich. But if we look at the season and also look at the data, then we have made some progress.

"Especially in terms of defence, for example, we conceded 10 goals fewer than at the same time last season and scored the same number of goals.

"We lost important players, David Alaba and Jerome Boateng but on the other hand, you have to see that we conceded 44 goals last season.

"It was our goal to become more stable, we've achieved that, we've become more flexible. This team is always capable of delivering top performances."

Robert Lewandowski's attitude towards his work at Bayern Munich gives the impression he is staying at the club, coach Julian Nagelsmann believes.

Lewandowski is the leading scorer among players in Europe's top five leagues for a third consecutive season, netting 47 goals in all competitions in 2021-22 after 48 in 2020-21 and 55 2019-20.

He is the only player in Europe to have scored at least 40 goals in each of the past seven seasons.

But the 33-year-old's contract has only a year to run, and he has been linked with a move away from Bayern – most prominently to Barcelona.

Bayern have insisted Lewandowski will not be sold, yet he will be able to leave on a free transfer in 2023 if a new contract is not agreed, denying the Bundesliga giants a huge fee.

However, Nagelsmann does not think Lewandowski intends to quit the German champions based on the conversations the pair have had.

"Of course I would like to keep him, he is an important goalscorer," Nagelsmann said ahead of Sunday's game at Arminia Bielefeld. "He has a contract. There are conversations.

"I never got the impression that he wants to leave. We talk a lot about tactics, and he participates a lot. That implies for me that he wants to stay.

"But it's also quite normal to think about your future, especially when you've been with the club for so long."

Nagelsmann was speaking on Friday, three days after a Champions League draw with Villarreal that saw Bayern eliminated from the competition at the quarter-final stage.

Their failure to reach the quarter-finals in consecutive seasons will have financial implications, but Nagelsmann hopes Bayern will keep investing in order to return to Europe's top table.

"It's always a vicious circle," he said. "The squad changes, you lose regular players; on the other hand, the income is missing because you don't get that far.

"Of course, we don't have the money we would have made from the semi-finals.

"You have to decide: do you take a risk, how much do you invest? If you do not take risks, the probability of reaching a semi-final is lower, then again the money is missing. It's always a balancing act."

Now, though, the focus has to be on clinching the Bundesliga title – that is Nagelsmann's message as Bayern aim to move on from the Villarreal game, where Lucas Hernandez and Kingsley Coman sustained muscle injuries that make them doubts against Arminia.

"There's a bit of dreariness. We won't have the opportunity to play such games again until a year from now," he said. "We have a year to think about it.

"But we now have a mission: ideally win the next two games to become champions. You have to turn that dreariness into vigour."

There is the potential for yet another Lewandowski record, too, needing only a single goal to become the outright away scorer in a Bundesliga season; he has 17 on the road so far this term, tied with Jupp Heynckes in 1973-74 and Timo Werner in 2019-20.

Lewandowski's only previous away game against Arminia in October 2020 saw him score twice and assist another in a 4-1 Bayern win.

Julian Nagelsmann revealed he regularly receives death threats in the aftermath of Bayern Munich matches and his mother is also targeted.

Bayern were eliminated from the Champions League in midweek after a 1-1 draw at home to Villarreal resulted in a 2-1 aggregate quarter-final defeat.

It means Die Roten can only win one major trophy in Nagelsmann's first season as head coach, though a nine-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga with five games to go means that trophy looks reasonably secure.

Nagelsmann said receiving threats is not out of the ordinary as he opened up on the abuse when previewing Bayern's weekend fixture with Arminia Bielefeld.

"I get them after every game, regardless of whether we win or lose. I only ever see the first line and then delete them all at once," he said.

"They even shoot at my own mother, who doesn't play football at all. That's a little wild.

"There are more death threats when we play a back three. How do I deal with it? I don't give a f***. I cannot understand. As soon as you turn off the TV, people forget their decency. But that's all useless. They think they're right, that's the bizarre thing.

"I don't think the club is increasing security. You also move as a private person. I don't want to provoke anyone now."

Club legend and former CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge spoke about how uncertainty over the contracts of several big-name players may have proved a distracting factor in Bayern's European demise.

Nagelsmann says it is easier to accept criticism from such quarters.

"I am aware that you have to put up with criticism from all sides. That's normal, part of it. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge's criticism is manageable for me. I can handle that," he added.

"Maybe not quite as good with the 450 death threats on Instagram. But I don't read them all, of course that's a bit irrelevant.

"Of course, if you are eliminated in two out of three competitions, a coach will also be criticised. But I can take it and keep working."

Nagelsmann also stated he had held constructive talks with Bayern's hierarchy following the Villarreal setback.

"We sat together for two hours on Wednesday and talked about the game. I picked out the most important things again, but again our game was good. We lost it in the first leg," he said.

"I had a long phone call with [chief executive] Oliver Kahn yesterday, also about the squad and my ideas. He wants to have a picture of what the coach is thinking. The exchange has been very good so far. 

"We are very good at planning, but implementation is not that easy. The squad planning changes every day, you imagine something. Two days later it looks very different. That's where the fast pace of business comes into play."

Villarreal head coach Unai Emery hit back at criticism from Bayern Munich chief executive Oliver Kahn about the way the Spanish side played after they knocked the Bundesliga leaders out of the Champions League quarter-finals.

Taking a 1-0 advantage into the second leg on Tuesday at the Allianz Arena, the Yellow Submarine defended resolutely and scored a late goal to secure a 1-1 draw on the night, going through to the semi-finals 2-1 on aggregate. 

Robert Lewandowski had levelled the tie early in the second half via Thomas Muller's assist, but Samuel Chukwueze put Villarreal through with his goal in the 88th minute.

Speaking after Bayern's elimination, Kahn said: "There are few less pleasant teams to play against [than Villarreal]."

In response at a news conference following the game, Emery said: "Well, we do need to respect opinions, but they are totally unfair. The match is played in two games: 90 minutes [in Villarreal], where we were better than them, where we got a difference in the scoreboard, and today we played a match in which we haven't lost.

"The talk is that they wanted to be more aggressive in the pressure, and in fact, Lewandowski committed two aggressive tackles and the referee didn't send him off, which I understand because he shouldn't, and then they claimed a second card for Juan Foyth. But it was a clean game, well played."

The former Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal manager also addressed accusations of time-wasting against his team.

"Logically, we played for time, but also in Villarreal we played like this," he added. "Like with the goalkeeper, if they do not want to come and pressure, we gain our time. It is not that we do not want to play, we want them to come and pressure us. Today they did it, that is why it cost us more. [In the first leg], they didn't [pressure us].

"So what I want to say is that each team has tactics, but respect, I will never lose it. If someone disrespects [me], it is not that I will respect him, but I will omit him.

"[Kahn] said that they had bad luck and that we surprised them... well, one needs to be a man."

Villarreal captain Dani Parejo also did not hold back when speaking about Bayern head coach Julian Nagelsmann.

"When the draw took place and Villarreal was their opponent, I believe that their coach... well, I do not know him, but I think he showed a little bit of disrespect, not to Villarreal, but to football," Parejo told Movistar+.

"And our club in this case, when he said that he wanted to decide the tie in the first leg. I trust that this was a lack of respect to us.

"In the end, when you spit in the wind, sometimes it returns straight to you."

Julian Nagelsmann knows this season cannot be considered a success for Bayern Munich after falling short of their "minimum goal" of making the Champions League semi-finals.

Bayern are on course for a 10th consecutive Bundesliga title, nine points clear of nearest challengers Borussia Dortmund with five games to play.

But as last season, Bayern have failed to win the DFB-Pokal and been eliminated from the Champions League at the quarter-final stage.

After being edged out by big-spending Paris Saint-Germain in 2020-21, underdogs Villarreal put paid to their European hopes this time, claiming a 1-1 draw in Germany on Tuesday to claim a 2-1 aggregate success.

Samuel Chukwueze's late equaliser saw Bayern eliminated in the last eight for the eighth time in the Champions League era – more than any other side.

It was the first time Bayern had failed to win consecutive matches at any stage of the competition since facing Liverpool in the last 16 in 2018-19.

On the back of that disappointment, Nagelsmann was unwilling to be complacent about the Bundesliga title race as he considered the season as a whole.

"It depends on what happens in the Bundesliga," said the first-year Bayern coach.

"If we win that, we've matched what we did last year, which is not enough for Bayern Munich. The semi-finals should have been our minimum goal, but we've not done it."

While Nagelsmann insisted the damage had been done in Spain, he ranked this result among the three most disappointing of his coaching career.

"To be honest, this is one of the worst three defeats of my career," he said. "Hoffenheim v Liverpool was tough. RB Leipzig v PSG was difficult to take. We had plenty of chances, this is certainly one of the three toughest occasions.

"As to how we lift the team, everything works as normal. I'll do my job as usual. [On Wednesday] we'll start preparing for our next Bundesliga game and I'll get the team ready for it.

"A team like Bayern has experience with good and bad results. You win together and lose together, and you have to prepare for the next matches together.

"It's not easy, we will feel bad about [Tuesday], but I will do my best to lift the team."

Nagelsmann will be relieved he will at least not have to face Villarreal again this season, having grown frustrated by the approach of the LaLiga side, who had just four attempts but scored with their only shot on target.

Crucially, they limited Bayern to four shots on target from their 23 efforts, making seven blocks, and won 11 fouls to slow the pace of the game.

"It's difficult when the opposition have eight defenders in the penalty box, so it's never that easy to find your rhythm," Nagelsmann said.

"We have to score from winning the ball back, as we did. In other situations, it's super difficult.

"That's a part of how football is in southern Europe. I don't want to open up any discussion I'll have to apologise for next week, but everyone has to see their style for themselves.

"We had a couple of strong tackles where players could reasonably stay down, but not every situation needs to end with a player staying down for three minutes. I'm not going to make excuses about that, though."

Villarreal coach Unai Emery told his side to savour their achievement, after they progressed past Bayern Munich to the Champions League semi-finals with a 1-1 draw on Tuesday.

Coming into the second leg in Munich up 1-0 on aggregate, the Yellow Submarine continued to absorb pressure.

Robert Lewandowski levelled the tie at 1-1, seven minutes into the second half via Thomas Muller's assist, but Samuel Chukwueze put Villarreal through with his goal in the 88th minute.

According to Emery, savouring that achievement must not come as a result of Villarreal's status in comparison to European football's elite, but because of the work it took to get there.

"Let's enjoy the semi-finals, knowing we are here not because of how nice we are, or to let others say we are a nice and small town, but because we've worked for it," Emery told Marca post-match.

"We are professionals, but we also have feelings and today we have played a huge game and for this, a lot had to do with all the good we did in the first leg.

"It was essential to play a perfect game defensively, because against opponents of this level it is the only way to progress. We knew that we were going to have five moments throughout the match and we took advantage of one, thanks to the fact we have approached the tie with humility."

The Europa League holders approached Bayern in the same manner that saw them through Juventus in the last-16, keeping shape and playing in transition, while trying to restrict Bayern to low quality opportunities.

It worked again in the second leg, with Bayern particularly managing a cumulative xG of 1.06 despite 15 shots in the second half, compared to Villarreal's 0.64 from only two attempts.

It mattered little to Raul Albiol, who had to mark Lewandowski, saying extra time might have been a bridge too far.

"It's been a long 90 minutes and we didn't want extra time because it would have been too much suffering against an opponent with strikers of a very high level, who have forced us to be very focused, although they have scored a goal off a half-chance," Albiol told Movistar+ post-match.

"It is a success for a town, a club, a board, a team and all of Spanish football. It has been very nice and it has shown, as we did last year in the Europa League, that we compete very well. Work and passion are fundamental."

Thomas Muller says Bayern Munich's elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Villarreal is "difficult to accept".

The Bundesliga leaders crashed out in the quarter-finals for the second season running, as Samuel Chukwueze's late strike at the Allianz Arena snatched a 1-1 draw on the night - and a 2-1 aggregate victory for the Europa League holders.

Julian Nagelsmann's side, beaten 1-0 in the first leg, dominated the game as they sought a ninth win from 11 Champions League quarter-final ties.

But despite Robert Lewandowski drawing them level early in the second half, Bayern were unable to capitalise on their superiority as they could only find the back of the net once from 23 attempts at goal.

And the Bavarian giants were stunned two minutes from time, when Chukwueze rounded off a devastating counter-attack to send Villarreal through to a first semi-final in this competition in 16 years.

Muller knows Bayern only have themselves to blame for lacking a cutting edge.

"If you take just this game into account, without the first game, we should have gone through convincingly," he told Amazon Prime.

"It's difficult to accept this; I don't know what to say.

"It's bitter to concede after that performance. With the fans behind us, we pushed, pushed, pushed from the start. We have to do more in front of goal."

Head coach Nagelsmann said the nature of Bayern's exit left a sour taste in the mouth.

The head coach added: "The first leg was the key. Today, we did very well. It was one of our best games. But we should have made it 2-0 in the second half.

"It's all very bitter. We had very little space, there was always a danger of getting hit on the counter, and creating many chances against such a deep defence is hard. 

"If you don't win and get eliminated, that's just the way it is."

Villarreal will do battle with Liverpool or Benfica for a place in the final.

Samuel Chukwueze struck a dramatic decisive late goal as Villarreal secured a 2-1 aggregate victory that sent Bayern Munich crashing out of the Champions League.

The Nigeria international climbed off the bench to make it 1-1 on the night two minutes from time in the second leg at the Allianz Arena to send the Yellow Submarine through to their first semi-final since the 2005-06 season.

Robert Lewandowski had levelled the tie early in the second half with his 13th Champions League goal of the campaign.

But there was a dramatic twist, as Chukwueze ensured Unai Emery would not be prevented from progressing beyond the last eight of this competition for the first time in his managerial career.

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.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo should replace Harry Maguire as Manchester United captain, according to Bayern Munich defender Alphonso Davies.

A video surfaced on YouTube of the Canada international making the astonishing assessment while playing FIFA 22 on streaming service Twitch.

Maguire has found himself a scapegoat during another difficult season for United, who are seventh in the Premier League and three points behind Tottenham in fourth.

Following several below-par performances and high-profile mistakes, the England international was also booed by sections of the Wembley crowd during the Three Lions' recent friendly against Ivory Coast.

Many have questioned the decision to hand the defender the armband over Ronaldo, who returned to Old Trafford from Juventus last August.

And Davies followed suit during a mini rant when acquiring Maguire in a pack on the Ultimate Team game mode.

Turning down his music, the Bayern defender said: "Can you guys imagine?! Can you guys imagine?!

"You're Ronaldo; one of the greatest players ever. And what's his name is your captain? Harry Maguire is your captain?!

"And you refer to him as 'yes cap' – I don't know what he says to him. 

"I'm not dissing Harry Maguire, but Ronaldo should get the armband."

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.

Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann admits his side deserved to lose their Champions League quarter-final first leg against Villarreal on Wednesday.

Arnaut Danjuma scored the only goal of the game in the eighth minute, and only wasteful finishing prevented the hosts from taking a greater lead to Germany for next week's second leg.

The result marked the first time Bayern have failed to score in a Champions League game since February 2019 (0-0 v Liverpool), ending a run of 30 consecutive games in which they had scored at least once.

While Nagelsmann accepted Villarreal were deserving winners, he still believes his side have what it takes to turn it around in the reverse fixture.

"We deserved to lose. We weren't good today. In the first half, we lacked power in defence and had too few chances," he told DAZN.

"The second half was a completely wild game. We gave up control because we were desperate to score.

"I think they could have scored a few more goals against us, but it was 1-0. We have not played a good game today in all aspects. 

"But it's only 1-0 and we have to show another side of us in the second leg; we know how to do it and I think we will."

Asked where it went wrong for his side tactically, Nagelsmann pointed to a lack of intensity down the flanks.

"It's a typical match against a Spanish team, who have good players and make few mistakes," he added. "They have quality with the ball. 

"On the wings we were not intense and we lacked penetration; we did not do the diagonals well either. Nothing worked for us and we had few chances. We deserved to lose."

Bayern have failed to progress from each of their last five ties in the Champions League knockout stages when they have lost the first leg, with four of those five eliminations coming against Spanish teams (Barcelona in 2014-15, Atletico Madrid in 2015-16 and Real Madrid in 2016-17 and 2017-18).

Thomas Muller, who failed to have a single shot in his 62 minutes on the pitch, knows Bayern have to improve dramatically if they are to end that run and book a spot in the last four.

"We failed to deliver the match we wanted," he said. "Offensively, we didn't have the energy; we didn't create many chances and we lacked the explosiveness. 

"We accept this 1-0. If it had gone wrong, the score could have been higher. 

"We have seen that Villarreal is not an opponent we can walk against, contrary to what some media said. We have to prepare for the second leg and take our revenge."

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