Berlin (AFP) – Former Liverpool and Germany midfielder Dietmar Hamann ranks Bayern Munich only the third best team in Germany — behind Borussia Dortmund and Moenchengladbach — with the reigning German champions feeling the pressure both on and off the pitch.
Bayern play strugglers Mainz, who are winless in their last five games, away on Saturday, and all is clearly not well with the Bavarian giants.
They start the weekend only fourth in the Bundesliga table behind leaders Dortmund and second-placed ‘Gladbach.
Last Friday, club president Uli Hoeness and chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge launched an emotional attack on the German media for what they dubbed “indecent” criticism of head coach Niko Kovac and his team during the recent four-match winless streak.
A 3-1 league win at Wolfsburg last Saturday ended the slide and lifted Bayern to fourth in the table, four points behind Dortmund, who they face away in a crunch Bundesliga showdown on November 10.
That win came ahead of Tuesday’s 2-0 win at AEK keep Bayern joint top of their Champions League group with Ajax.
However Bayern defender Mats Hummels admitted “fundamental things” are not right after their mid-week win at AEK, pointing at the amount of possession gave away cheaply.
Hamann, who spent five years at Bayern in the 90s, says their shock 3-0 defeat at home to ‘Gladbach three weeks ago showed Bayern are lagging behind in Germany’s top flight.
“The team is still feeling insecure,” Hamann, a Sky pundit, told Munich-based newspaper AZ.
“Bayern must be careful that the gap to Borussia Dortmund until the winter break (in January) does not grow to six or seven points.”
Bayern have won just two of their last six games while Dortmund have won all six of theirs.
“Dortmund have the momentum and are currently the number one in Germany,” added Hamann.
– Scathing Breitner –
“In Marco Reus, Christian Pulisic and Jadon Sancho, they have lightning fast player and are on a run.
“That certainly will not stay like that for the whole season, but Dortmund has the confidence Bayern are missing.”
Hamann doubts Rummenigge and Hoeness’ scolding of the media had the desired affect of pulling the team together, because “seasoned international players like Mats Hummels, Thomas Mueller or Jerome Boateng can take care of themselves.
“I do not know if those guys would have seen it as positively as those in charge. It wasn’t actually necessary.”
Hamann is not the only former Bayern player to criticise Hoeness and Rummenigge this week.
Paul Breitner, who won the 1974 World Cup with West Germany and five Bundesliga titles with Bayern, slammed the club’s senior figures.
“I am still depressed, because I could never imagine in 48 years with, or on the fringes of Bayern, that this club would let their guard down like that and show such weakness,” Breitner told German broadcaster BR.
Breitner accused Rummenigge and Hoeness of “ruining all the hard work the club has done in recent years to remove their image of arrogance”.
After dominating the Bundesliga for the last six seasons, Bayern are eager to be back in first place.
“we want to be top again by the (January) winter break,” said defender Joshua Kimmich, with the showdown at Dortmund in a fortnight likely to be a decisive step.
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