Bayern Munich returned to winning ways in the Bundesliga as Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry both scored twice in a convincing 5-1 win over Cologne.

After returning to domestic duties following their Club World Cup success in Qatar with a home draw against Arminia Bielefeld, the reigning champions slipped to a 2-1 loss away at Eintracht Frankfurt last weekend.

However, a 4-1 thrashing of Lazio in Champions League action in midweek proved the catalyst for a first league triumph at their Allianz Arena home since January 30.

Lewandowski's first goal helped Bayern ease into a 2-0 half-time lead and while Cologne briefly threatened a comeback, the returning Thomas Muller made an immediate impression off the bench, providing the assist that allowed the competition's leading scorer to take his tally for the campaign to 28.

Like Muller, substitute Gnabry had an impact on his comeback, the Germany international tucking away a pair of routine finishes as the hosts eased clear in the closing stages.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting had opened the scoring with his first league goal for the club, heading in an inviting cross from Leon Goretzka, who then went on to set up his side's second before the break.

The midfielder waltzed his way beyond Rafael Czichos before laying the ball off as goalkeeper Timo Horn came towards him, allowing the ever-ready Lewandowski to roll it into the net.

Cologne failed to even muster an attempt as the first half proved to be one-way traffic, yet they were gifted a route back into the game when hesitation between centre-back pairing Jerome Boateng and David Alaba allowed Ellyes Skhiri in to produce a delicate lofted finish over the advancing Manuel Neuer.

The goal caused a brief wobble, yet the 64th-minute arrival of Muller - back after overcoming coronavirus - helped steady Bayern, the substitute teeing up Lewandowski to restore the two-goal cushion with a shot on the turn.

Dominick Drexler hit the post from a tight angle after robbing possession from Neuer before Gnabry's four-minute brace, the second of which was set up by the outstanding Goretzka with another delightful delivery into the area, added a touch of gloss to the final scoreline.

 

What does it mean? Bayern remain clear at the summit

Bayern's recent blip had allowed the chasing pack – led by RB Leipzig – to close the gap at the top of the table. Flick's side have already lost more Bundesliga games in 2021 (two) than they did across the entirety of the previous year.

This win is therefore most welcome in what has suddenly become a tighter-than-expected title race, but Flick – who made 44 appearances for Cologne during his playing career - will be concerned at the careless defensive lapse that allowed Skhiri to give the visitors a slither of hope.

Duo back to boost Bayern

While COVID-19 had kept Muller away, Gnabry had not featured since the Club World Cup final due to a thigh issue. The latter only had 13 touches during his goalscoring cameo, but the availability of the pair helps add further strength in depth, even if the fixture congestion eases in March.

Defensive cracks raise concerns

Bayern had conceded 31 goals prior to this game, their highest tally through 22 league games in a campaign since 1991-92. The chance of a clean sheet disappeared when Boateng and Alaba dithered over who was going to attack a loose ball on the edge of the penalty area, in the end neither bothering to take control of the situation.

What's next?

Bayern have a rare week between fixtures, giving them time to prepare for the visit of Borussia Dortmund next Saturday. Cologne, meanwhile, will be hosting Werder Bremen the following day.

Thomas Muller will be involved for Bayern Munich against Cologne, Hansi Flick has confirmed, as the reigning Bundesliga champions aim to get their title defence back on track.

Muller tested positive for COVID-19 while away with the squad at the Club World Cup but is now clear of the virus, allowing him to resume training at the club's headquarters on Thursday.

Speaking to the media, Flick confirmed Muller is to be included in the squad for Saturday's game at the Allianz Arena, with the pressure firmly on after two games without a win in the league.

Ahead of the 100th all-time meeting with Cologne, Bayern have already lost twice as many games (two) in Bundesliga action in 2021 as they did across the entire previous year, with RB Leipzig now just two points behind the leaders in the table.

"He will definitely be part of the squad," Flick said of Muller on Friday. "Things went really quickly with him. 

"Yesterday he had a quick session. Obviously he trained at home, as much as he was able and allowed to do. He's the kind of player who has a good foundation, so he will definitely be a part of that [the matchday squad]. 

"I don't know if it will be possible for him to start or come off the bench, we haven't decided that yet." 

After a surprise 3-3 draw at home with Arminia Bielefeld following their return from clinching Club World Cup success in Qatar, Bayern went down 2-1 at Eintracht Frankfurt last weekend.

They were impressive in midweek, however, thrashing Lazio 4-1 in Rome in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie. 

"Against Bielefeld and Frankfurt, there were certain scenes we saw that indicated that better things were to come, but we had missed players and had done a lot of travelling," said Flick, who revealed Tanguy Nianzou is expected to be back after the international break in March. "I don't want to use that as an excuse, though.

"It was important for us to play in the Champions League against an opponent we respected. We followed our plan with great discipline, that's what I also expect tomorrow against Cologne.  

"I expect the team to show great willpower and a great willingness to win that game. We want to continue and play the way we did against Lazio, that's our job."

Jamal Musiala scored in the rout of Lazio before announcing his intention to represent Germany, rather than England, at international level. It now remains to be seen if Die Mannschaft coach Joachim Low calls up the teenage forward for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers in March.

"It's his decision," Flick said of the choice made by Musiala, who turned 18 on Friday. "Obviously I'm a bit biased towards German football, so I think it's a good decision for German football.

"I always said there is enough good talent in this country, you don't have to worry about that. You have to make sure they develop well. 

"Now it's up to the coaches of the Germany team. If he's invited to join the national team, then we accept that. I do think that is going to give him a push. On the other hand, we have a lot of internationals in our squad who can offer support to him, so I don't think it will be a problem."

Hansi Flick was unimpressed by the state of Eintracht Frankfurt's pitch but insisted he was not using that as an excuse for Bayern Munich's 2-1 defeat on Saturday.

Defending champions Bayern lost for the second time in the Bundesliga in 2021 and dropped points in successive matches, having drawn 3-3 at home to struggling Arminia Bielefeld on Monday.

As such, RB Leipzig will close to within just two points of the leaders if they beat Hertha Berlin – who are just above the relegation zone – away from home on Sunday.

It is a significant turnaround in Bayern's fortunes given they were 10 points clear earlier this month, and Flick was frustrated by the nature of his team's performance, particularly the first half.

Bayern trailed 2-0 at the break thanks to Daichi Kamada's well-worked opener and Amin Younes' stunning strike, with Robert Lewandowski's effort just after the interval insufficient as the champions sought an equaliser.

"Frankfurt are having a sensational run, but they can still improve the pitch a little bit," Flick told reporters. "That's something we don't like to see. However, [the defeat] certainly wasn't because of the pitch.

"We didn't get into the game well. Eintracht played with a lot of pace in the first half. But if we played the way we did in the second half for the full 90 minutes, the winner would be different.

"We've had a turbulent few weeks. We've many injured and infected players. We're just human. I'm still proud of the team.

"I didn't think that Leon Goretzka would show such a strong performance when he came into the game. He helped us and brought positive energy onto the pitch. We can build on that second half, so I'm not worried."

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer echoed the sentiments of Flick, convinced things would have been different if Bayern's first-half performance had matched their showing in the second period.

"We didn't learn from the Arminia Bielefeld game," Neuer said. "This was not enough against such a team.

"We have to be wide awake from the start. The second half was good - had we played like that from the start, we'd have won here."

The defeat took Bayern's goals conceded this season to 31 in 22 Bundesliga games, their worst record at this point of the season since 1991-92, when they finished 10th.

Bayern Munich midfielder Corentin Tolisso is a doubt for Euro 2020 after he suffered a serious thigh injury.

The France international did the damage when shooting during a training session on Thursday and underwent surgery on Friday.

Bayern boss Hansi Flick said in a news conference that the former Lyon man will be sidelined for "at least three months".

Hansi Flick admits he was satisfield to settle for a share of the points after the 'madness' of Bayern Munich’s 3-3 draw against Arminia Bielefeld in a snow-covered Allianz Arena.

Four days after the German champions lifted the Club World Cup in Qatar, Bayern found themselves in the midst of a snowstorm and 2-0 down at half-time against the Bundesliga strugglers after goals from Michel Vlap and Amos Pieper.

Robert Lewandowski hit back three minutes after the restart with his 25th league goal of the season but, within a minute, Christian Gebauer restored the away side’s two-goal advantage in a chaotic start to the second half.

Bayern coach Flick was left breathing a sigh of relief after strikes from Corentin Tolisso and Alphonso Davies saved the leaders’ blushes and kept the Bavarians five points clear of title rivals RB Leipzig.

"A lot came together in the first half and we didn't defend well," Flick told broadcaster DAZN.

"In the second half the team again showed a mentality, that was madness. 

"Today you just have to say that we have to be satisfied with the 3-3."

He added: "We always had the feeling that we could still turn the game around. 

"We could have reacted differently after [going 2-0 down], but our team is not like that."

Bayern Munich battled back to claim a 3-3 draw against Arminia Bielefeld in a storm-laden Bundesliga thriller. 

Greeted by heavy snow on their return from Club World Cup glory, Bayern were caught cold by their relegation-threatened opponents as debutant Michel Vlap and Amos Pieper stunningly gave Arminia a 2-0 half-time lead. 

Robert Lewandowski scored his 25th Bundesliga goal of the season in sumptuous fashion three minutes into the second period, although substitute Christian Gebauer swiftly replied for Uwe Neuhaus' men. 

Corentin Tolisso and Alphonso Davies continued the flow of easy-on-the-eye goals, but Bayern could not find a winner. 

Manuel Prietl reacted quickest when Cedric Brunner's ninth-minute long throw was partially cleared and Vlap - a loan signing from Anderlecht - controlled his drilled pass superbly before emphatically smashing beyond Manuel Neuer. 

Bayern had the chance to regroup shortly afterwards as snow was swept off the pitch lines and the officials reverted to orange match balls. 

Tolisso almost capitalised when Leroy Sane swung a cross through the blizzard to cause confusion in the Arminia box. 

But Bayern were left with a snow-covered mountain to climb when Pieper was left unchallenged to head home Vlap's left-wing corner for his first ever Bundesliga goal. 

The groundstaff hurried along a half-time thaw, allowing Bayern to make their class tell early in the second half. 

Stefan Ortega Moreno got down sharply to thwart Sane before Lewandowski's exquisite chest control and volleyed finish from David Alaba's chip left the goalkeeper with no chance. 

Remarkably, Arminia restored their two-goal advantage within a minute - Andreas Voglsammer tearing past Bouna Sarr to deliver a pinpoint low cross that gave Gebauer - another man opening his account for the club - a simple finish. 

Sane and Tolisso combined again for the latter to head home before the hour, while Kingsley Coman was providing a similar threat from the other wing as he had a venomous drive tipped over. 

In the 70th minute Sane got to the byline and his right-footed cross was cleared only as far as Davies, who fizzed a magnificent half-volley into the bottom left corner.

Back came Bielefeld and a marginal offside against Fabian Klos denied Sergio Cordova a fourth, before they held out for the point their endeavours deserved.

Hansi Flick welcomed the signing of Dayot Upamecano but said "our task is to perform right now" as Bayern Munich prepare to return to Bundesliga action against Arminia Bielefeld.

On Sunday, Bayern announced that they have triggered a €42.5million release clause to land defender Upamecano from domestic rivals RB Leipzig.

The in-demand France international will join the newly-crowned FIFA Club World Cup champions on July 1 after agreeing terms on a five-year deal.

Flick is delighted to have beaten off competition to secure the services of the 22-year-old centre-back, who was linked with the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool

The Bayern head coach's focus for now is ensuring Bayern extend a seven-match winning streak by beating Bielefeld at Allianz Arena on Monday, when a victory would put the leaders seven points clear of Leipzig.

Flick said: "I'm pleased we've managed to sign Dayot. But our task is to perform right now, and the same goes for Dayot at Leipzig. But that's how I've got to know him."

Leipzig chief executive Oliver Mintzlaff expressed his disappointment that Upamecano will be departing, but knew his exit was inevitable.

He told the club's official website: "Of course, we would have liked to keep Dayot Upamecano at RB Leipzig.

"However, Dayot indicated to us very fairly and in good time that he would like a new challenge this summer and take the next step. The talks with Dayot and his agent as well as with FC Bayern were transparent and constructive at all times.

"It was well-known that Dayot's contract contained a buy-out clause. Our task was therefore to prepare for the situation that he would one day leave us, and we've done our homework in that regard.

"Dayot has shown outstanding development during his time in Leipzig, which is exemplary for our philosophy of finding young talents and consistently bringing them to the top level.

"Dayot has been and remains an important factor in our success and FC Bayern can look forward to an outstanding footballer and great person. We are now looking to the tasks ahead and want to give Liverpool a great fight on Tuesday in the Champions League last 16."

Flick expects to be without Leon Goretzka (calf) when the champions face Bielefeld, while Thomas Muller and Javi Martinez will be monitored.

Robert Lewandowski claimed Bayern Munich's sextuple success is special not only for the Bundesliga giants but football around the globe.

Bayern scraped past CONCACAF champions Tigres UANL 1-0 in Qatar on Thursday to clinch their second Club World Cup title.

It marked the sixth trophy Bayern have won in Hansi Flick's tenure, with that list also including last season's Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League and this term's UEFA Super Cup and DFL-Supercup.

Lewandowski, who scooped The Best FIFA Men's Player award for 2020, has been integral and played a key part in Bayern's win over Tigres as he forced Nahuel Guzman to flap at a cross, allowing Benjamin Pavard to lash in the decisive goal.

"The six-pack is something special, a great story – not only for Bayern Munich, for all of football," Lewandowski told reporters.

"The way we played, that will stay for a long, long time."

Bayern are the first team since Pep Guardiola's Barcelona, in 2009, to complete a clean sweep of every trophy on offer.

"Congratulations to my team, they have achieved something historic with their sixth title," Flick said.

"This is also the best season for the successful Bayern. There was a lot of unrest in the last few days but they still played outstandingly well.

"We are all very, very proud of the team. It is outstanding what they have achieved."

Bayern had to overcome Tigres without a handful of key players; Javi Martinez and Leon Goretzka did not travel to Qatar as they recover from COVID-19, with Thomas Muller then returning a positive result, while Jerome Boateng has had to return to Germany for personal reasons.

Their performance was unconvincing at times, but they ultimately had the quality to get through, with Tigres only managing one attempt on target and failing to muster a single effort after half-time.

Joshua Kimmich turned in another star performance in the centre of the park, having a stunning goal harshly disallowed and creating a game-high four chances, but the Germany maestro regretted that Muller – who is isolating – was unable to take part.

 "It was bitter for Thomas Muller that he wasn't there," Kimmich said. "We also got the win for him and all the others who couldn't be with us."

For 12 months, Bayern Munich have won and won again.

This time a year ago, Bayern were just a point clear at the top of the Bundesliga with the knockout stages of the Champions League still to negotiate.

But an outstanding, record-breaking 23-match winning run – the longest by a German club since the formation of the Bundesliga – took in four titles: the league, the DFB-Pokal, a sixth European crown and the UEFA Super Cup.

Since the conclusion of that remarkable stretch, which started on February 16 and ended with defeat on September 27, Bayern have added the DFL-Supercup, three days after the Hoffenheim loss, and now, with victory over Tigres UANL on Thursday, the FIFA Club World Cup.

Hansi Flick's side have bettered the efforts of their class of 2013, who won a meagre five trophies, losing Pep Guardiola's first game in charge to Borussia Dortmund in the domestic Supercup.

Indeed, this Bayern team, beaten 5-1 at Eintracht Frankfurt last season prior to Flick's appointment, have set a standard never previously seen in German football.

Champions of Germany, of Europe and on top of the world, the challenge now is to stay there.

David Alaba would appear set to leave and there is uncertainty, too, surrounding Flick, while the team have not evolved on the pitch.

It has been easy, of course, for Flick to set his side out to do the same again, having swept past Tottenham, Chelsea, Barcelona and Lyon before edging Paris Saint-Germain in last season's Champions League.

They lost Thiago Alcantara and signed Leroy Sane, who started and struck the crossbar with the best effort of the first half on Thursday – Joshua Kimmich's disallowed goal aside – but Bayern might well have shown only one change from the win against PSG if not for Leon Goretzka's recent coronavirus battle, Thomas Muller's positive test and Jerome Boateng's grave personal matters.

Even then, Benjamin Pavard, only absent due to injury last term, would have replaced Thiago, with Kimmich now back in midfield.

Bayern are attempting to repeat last season; they have three trophies to their name, boast a seven-point advantage in the Bundesliga and are through in Europe, but the swagger is not quite there at this stage.

Falling short of the level of dominance in 2019-20, Bayern are averaging 16.8 shots per match, 6.7 shots on target, 615.8 passes and 62.2 per cent of the possession – across the board the lowest marks since Guardiola arrived in Bavaria.

Continuing at the helm, unlike Jupp Heynckes after Bayern's previous Champions League triumph, Flick has not followed Guardiola in boldly transforming the team.

The Catalan coach shifted Philipp Lahm into the middle of the pitch, where he was joined by a fit-again Toni Kroos and new signing Thiago. Bayern averaged 572.2 passes per game and 61 per cent of the possession in 2012-13 and 727.9 passes per game and 71 per cent of the possession the following year – complete control.

This time, Sane was supposed to take Bayern to another level but has struggled to build on a fine debut against former club Schalke. Alaba's exit would rob them of a more valuable asset.

And given the swashbuckling style of last season's success, even with their trophy haul still growing, anything other than a serious tilt at the Champions League would surely be considered a failure. The bounce of a ball in one of sport's most unpredictable competitions could well dictate the mood music in Munich.

Bayern were value for their victory on Thursday, even if it ultimately relied on a scruffy Pavard strike, and have enjoyed a truly historic year.

However, if they are to prolong their peak and make this more than a 12-month merriment, they might need to again show a little more. Another 23-match winning run ought to ease any concerns.

Benjamin Pavard's VAR-assisted goal proved decisive as Bayern Munich beat Tigres UANL 1-0 to clinch their second FIFA Club World Cup title.

Without the influential Thomas Muller and Jerome Boateng, Bayern laboured for much of Thursday's final in Qatar, with their usual efficiency in front of goal absent.

A harsh offside decision from the VAR denied Joshua Kimmich a first-half opener, but the technology came to Bayern's aid in the 59th minute when it instructed referee Esteban Ostojich to overturn the decision to disallow Pavard's goal for a Robert Lewandowski offside.

The first North American team to reach the Club World Cup final, Tigres had a hopeful penalty appeal dismissed shortly after Pavard's effort, but they failed to test Manuel Neuer as Bayern completed a clean sweep of six trophies over the course of the last 12 months.

Kingsley Coman's winner in last season's Champions League final ultimately booked Bayern's spot at this tournament, but the winger flapped at an early chance following a bright start from Tigres.

Kimmich thought he had put Bayern ahead with a thumping effort in the 18th minute, only for the goal to be disallowed for Lewandowski having been offside, despite hardly interfering with play.

Tigres were caught cold by a short corner after the half hour, with Leroy Sane's strike crashing against the angle of the post and crossbar.

Yet the pressure finally told just before the hour. Lewandowski beat the Tigres offside trap and went in for a header which Nahuel Guzman parried straight to Pavard.

His finish was initially disallowed, but VAR said the decision should be overturned.

Pavard almost turned from hero to villain minutes later when he blocked Luis Quinones' cross and it rebounded back onto his arm, but the officials fairly judged it was ball-to-hand.

Tigres pushed for an equaliser but only managed to come close to conceding again – Corentin Tolisso having an effort tipped onto the post before Guzman made a fine save to deny Douglas Costa and Kimmich, as Bayern wrapped up the trophy they previously lifted in 2013.

Jerome Boateng has left Bayern Munich's Club World Cup squad to return to Germany following the death of his ex-girlfriend.

Kasia Lenhardt, 25, was found dead in her Berlin apartment on Tuesday. Her death is not being treated as suspicious by authorities.

She and Boateng had separated last week, the latter confirming in a since-deleted social media post.

Bayern coach Hansi Flick confirmed Boateng had asked to leave the squad for personal reasons on the eve of their Club World Cup final against Mexican side Tigres, and he will be absent indefinitely.

Flick told a news conference: "This has stunned us.

"Jerome came to me and asked me to return home. After a negative [COVID-19] test, he will return home and not be available until further notice."

Boateng had played the 2-0 semi-final win over Egypt's Al Ahly on Monday and would have likely started again when Bayern go up against Tigres.

His experience and physical prowess will have been key in potentially nullifying the threat of in-form Tigres striker Andre-Pierre Gignac, who has netted in each of his previous six matches across all competitions.

Flick would not give any hints as to his selections, but has urged Bayern to take the initiative.

"It is up to us to put pressure on our opponents and to play our game when we have possession," Flick continued. "We did it well in the semi-final. I have full trust in my team.

"We have to be alert. Tigres are very quick in their build-up. They work well down the wings and have players in the centre who score.

"We have to be there from the start and convert our chances this time."

Flick's Tigres counterpart, Ricardo Ferretti, was in a bullish mood ahead of the match, adamant people are underestimating them ahead of this contest just because they are not from Europe.

He said: "You mention Bayern of Europe and nobody denies their achievements, but why do people only want to see things from one side?

"In 10 years we have won 11 titles. If you want to predict it [the game] because they are European and we are North American, it would be underestimating us.

"We know the capacity of Bayern, but as I have always said, we are not afraid of anyone. We will try to do our thing, very well, in order to be champions."

Hansi Flick believes success in the Club World Cup will be "very special" as he closes in on a sixth trophy in just 68 matches as Bayern Munich coach.

Bayern comfortably dealt with CAF Champions League winners Al Ahly in their semi-final on Monday, with Robert Lewandowski getting both goals in a 2-0 win.

The Polish striker, who moved to 29 goals for the season with that brace, made it 1-0 in the 17th minute and eventually put the game beyond Al Ahly in the latter stages, though the Egyptian champions rarely looked a threat to Die Roten.

In Thursday's final Bayern will face Tigres, who defeated Copa Libertadores winners Palmeiras 1-0 on Sunday to become the first CONCACAF side to reach the final of the Club World Cup.

French striker Andre-Pierre Gignac got the winner from the spot against Palmeiras, his sixth successive goal-scoring appearance, and Bayern know they cannot afford to be complacent.

"I watched their semi-final, Tigres are a very dynamic team, very athletic, with a lot of power. We have to counter that well in the final," Flick said when asked about Ricardo Ferretti's team.

"If we win the final on Thursday, the team will have finished an outstanding season with a sixth title.

"That would be a very special success in the successful history of FC Bayern. We now have to collect ourselves as quickly as possible and recover quickly in order to be able to be again at 100 per cent on Thursday."

Thomas Muller echoed the sentiment of his coach, reminding the rest of the Bayern team that their mission still needs to be accomplished.

"We are happy that we did not miss anything and have achieved our [first] goal," he added. "Now we have the chance that we really wanted to work for: winning the Club World Cup."

Bayern won the competition in their only previous participation in 2013.

That was the beginning of streak of European dominance in the Club World Cup, with all six iterations since then won by teams from the continent.

Chelsea were the last European side to lose out in the Club World Cup in 2012, as they were defeated 1-0 by Corinthians in the final.

Hansi Flick's Bayern Munich reign went from 0-60 at break-neck speed, as within 11 months of being appointing as caretaker boss, he'd essentially won everything.

It was the kind of impact that makes managers club legends, his influence all the more notable given the how underwhelming performances had been during Niko Kovac's ultimately ill-fated spell at the helm.

All that remains for Flick to win now of course is the Club World Cup, which Bayern will make their return to for the first time since 2013 when they go up against Al Ahly in the semi-finals on Monday.

While Bayern's preparations for the tournament haven't been ideal, given they were only in Bundesliga action on Friday and had their departure significantly delayed, they've arrived in Qatar as clear favourites.

It may well prove a welcome distraction for the time being, with talk over Flick's future beginning to become a minor irritant for all involved.

While the outcome of their efforts in this tournament won't directly lead to Flick leaving, failure will surely see the issue thrust into the spotlight.

An ally's departure

It seems astonishing that there is even a hint of doubt regarding Flick's future at Bayern given the trophies he's won and the swift implementation of a vibrant brand of football.

But with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the club's chairman, set to vacate his position at the end of the season, reports in Germany suggest Flick will lose his closest ally in the hierarchy.

Additionally, Rummenigge's incoming replacement – Oliver Kahn – is not someone Flick is said to be particularly close with, while his relationship with sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has been called into question.

Flick eased links with the Germany job last week when he insisted he wouldn't leave Bayern "for that", but considering his strong impact on Bayern in a short period of time, the German Football Federation won't be the only interested party if the 55-year-old decides to move later this year.

Clashing over signings

Much of the speculation relating to Flick's supposedly poor relationship with those above him is centred on Salihamidzic, the man in charge of the signings. Even if the rumours are wide of the mark, it's easy to see why there might be disagreements.

None of Bayern's pre-season signings can claim to have tied down a regular place in the starting XI this season, not even Leroy Sane, who has made just nine Bundesliga starts.

Marc Roca and Bouna Sarr have played just six times between them, Douglas Costa has started three league games and Alexander Nubel – perhaps unsurprisingly – hasn't ousted Manuel Neuer between the posts.

But it goes back further than that. Lucas Hernandez, an €80million purchase in 2019, is still not a regular pick in defence (10 starts this season) despite such a significant outlay.

In the case of Sane, he is proving to be less effective as a creative outlet than all of his fellow wingers in the Bayern squad, with his 1.6 chances created per 90 minutes fewer than Costa (1.7), Serge Gnabry (1.9) and Kingsley Coman (2.4).

If Rummenigge's departure leaves Flick without significant backing higher up, perhaps he'll opt to jump before he's pushed.

The distraction

Regardless of what happens in Qatar, or in the remaining months of the season for that matter, Flick will have a CV unlike many other managers in the game should he take the opportunity to follow Rummenigge out of the door.

They enjoyed a clean sweep last season with their Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League treble, before adding UEFA Super Cup and DFL-Supercup at the start of 2020-21.

The Club World Cup is the only one that remains, and if they manage to lift the trophy it will be Flick's sixth title in 68 champions – that's one every 11 matches on average.

It's hardly make or break, with this competition arguably inconsequential when it comes to Bayern's major targets at the start of the season.

But from Flick's perspective, the opportunity to complete the set is one he won't want to pass up.

Bayern Munich's preparations for their Club World Cup campaign may not have been ideal but head coach Hansi Flick will not use a seven-hour travel delay as an excuse against Al Ahly. 

Bayern boarded a plane for Doha immediately after Friday's 1-0 victory over Hertha Berlin but did not depart until the following morning after their clearance for take-off was denied. 

The European champions eventually left for the Middle East on Saturday morning and were unable to train when arriving at their destination. 

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge hit out at the local authorities in Berlin for "mucking about" ahead of Monday's semi-final against Al Ahly. 

However, Flick's squad were able to train on the eve of the game and the Bayern boss is ready for the showdown with the reigning CAF Champions League holders. 

"It's not the best preparation, without question," he said at a news conference on Sunday. "Ultimately, the decisive factor is we arrived safely and won't allow any excuses.  

"Of course, it would have been better if we could have arrived sooner. But this morning we did what was planned for yesterday.  

"This afternoon we will have the final training session and will prepare the team for tomorrow's game.

"We will go through the same process as every game. We have an analysis department that prepares information on each opponent for us. 

"The coaches then do the final preparations. We know that they are very offensive with their full-backs and have an impressive coach, whose approach I like very much." 

Bayern are seeking to win the Club World Cup for a second time, having last prevailed in 2013 when beating Raja Casablanca in the final. 

They secured a domestic treble last season and lifted the DFL-Supercup and UEFA Super Cup earlier in this campaign, but Flick insists his players are still hungry to win more trophies. 

"In football, you set goals and then you move on," he said. "We have won five titles and yet you can tell that the team and the coaching team want to take the next step.  

"Success is a process, everyone is involved. We have a very good mentality in the team. They handled the journey very professionally and want to tackle the next goal. 

"We really wanted to play the tournament and it is also our goal to win this tournament. We know that it is associated with a certain burden.  

"But we want to be motivated and it is a big goal to crown the outstanding season with the sixth title. Our goal is to become the best team in the world. 

"The journey yesterday is a thing of the past, we were ready in time. It wasn't nice, but we are looking ahead.  

"The team should use all their strength today so that we can win the semi-final tomorrow move into the final." 

Bayern made the trip to Doha without midfield pair Leon Goretzka and Javi Martinez, who both recently tested positive for coronavirus. 

Opponents Al Ahly knocked out Al Duhail to advance to the semi-finals.

Leon Goretzka and Javi Martinez were not part of the Bayern Munich squad that departed for the Club World Cup on Friday.

Bayern caught a flight to Qatar after their 1-0 victory over Hertha Berlin, which was secured by a deflected first-half strike from Kingsley Coman.

Hansi Flick's side kept a clean sheet thanks to Manuel Neuer's seven saves but they looked vulnerable on the counterattack with Joshua Kimmich anchoring the midfield alone at the Olympiastadion.

Goretzka and Martinez were absent following positive coronavirus tests and they did not travel to Doha with their team-mates.

"We have to look from day to day how things are going for both of them," Flick said.

"Leon is looking a little better, Javi will probably not make it. If not for the first game, then maybe for the second."

Bayern take on Al Ahly on Monday and will contest either the third-place play-off or the final against Palmeiras or Tigres UANL three days later.

The European champions left Germany after opening a 10-point advantage at the Bundesliga summit, though a missed penalty from Robert Lewandowski in the first half against Hertha meant the match was tighter than expected.

"You could tell it would be fiercely contested. Pal Dardai's team fight for every square centimetre," Thomas Muller, who set up Coman to become the first player to reach double figures for goals and assists in the Bundesliga this season, told DAZN.

"We should definitely have scored one or two more goals, so it was a close run thing in the end.

"You can't celebrate in every game. What is striking is that the clean sheet is becoming more and more common."

Page 8 of 9
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.