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FC Bayern Munich: An End In Sight?

Ten titles and ten routine wheat beer showers in a row. How long is this supposed to go on? After all, there are signs that Bayern's series could end soon.

Say again, football fans have no sense of irony. "Oh, how beautiful that is," echoed through the Allianz Arena on Saturday evening, which was quite a bold claim because there have been better games than the 3-1 win against BVB. And because only Thomas Müller seemed to feel something like championship ecstasy when he managed to smirk about the umpteenth wheat beer shower of his career . But the second line of the classic really made you smile: "You haven't seen anything like that for a long time."

The Munich audience celebrated the tenth championship title in a row. Four games before the end, the second in the table was a guest of the table leaders. Actually an ideal constellation for an exciting game and an even more exciting season finale - if it weren't for this Bavarian dominance, which the football country has long since only acknowledged with a shrug of the shoulders. Even in Munich the mood is gloomy. "Bayern are nine points ahead, but no one is happy," said Uli Hoeneß before the game. There are now twelve, but FC Bayern no longer measures the quality of a season by their performance in the Bundesliga.

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What matters is what happens in the Champions League. The national title is bagged in passing, just as you buy toilet paper at the discounter on the way home from the delicatessen. And because the Munich Champions League season recently ended quite abruptly against a team called Villarreal, new coach Julian Nagelsmann's first season will go down in Bayern annals as a lost season.

But how long will this boredom and joylessness last? Everyone can briefly think about what would happen if another of the 24,000 German football clubs won the title. Eintracht Frankfurt or SC Freiburg or even Bayer Leverkusen. It would be nights no one would forget, games for eternity. Decisive goals in added time from the last matchday, keep going, keep going . Stories and scenarios that are now completely foreign to a generation of football fans.

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But there are at least slight signs that give hope. Indications that there will not be another ten Bayern titles in a row. Maybe not even three. And it's not about more than this touch of variety. No one expects that Bayern will soon be replaced as the dominant force, but that at least this obscene series will end, that at least someone will manage to take advantage of an average year for Bayern. Yes, that in ten years at least two or three titles will go elsewhere. It must be possible. And that's it.

The reasons for the continuing Bavarian superiority have already been analyzed in detail: The large financial lead, Bayern recently turned over around 190 million euros more per season than BVB as the second richest German club. In addition, there is the almost absurd weakness of the other alleged top league clubs. So the calculation is: Bayern would have to make less of their financial advantage for a while or the others would have to act wiser.

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The problem: It takes a lot of imagination to realize that the only serious competitors, BVB and RB Leipzig, are currently developing something. On the contrary. Before the season, Leipzig lost their coach and important players to Bayern and completely messed up the first half of the season. Dortmund seems to have come to terms with the role of the second, as the finest training company on the continent. Erling Haaland will move on to win big titles elsewhere. After all, BVB has signed Niklas Süle for the coming season, a remarkable change. Not only is a German national player moving from Bayern to Dortmund, a rarity – the change could not only strengthen BVB, but also weaken FC Bayern. In any case, Bayern's leading players seem to be talking about the imminent transfernot amused.

Above all, the other clubs are left with the hope that FC Bayern itself will lose some of its sovereignty. And in fact, the people of Munich seem more vulnerable this spring than they have in a long time. In the current season, Bayern have thrown in numerous erratic games, losing 2:4 in Bochum and 0:5 in the cup in Gladbach. There were also unusual home defeats against Frankfurt and Gladbach. The dominants are slightly less dominant. The club again missed the 90-point mark, which FC Bayern under Jupp Heynckes and Pep Guardiola often surpassed or at least came close to, this season - even if they should win all three remaining games.

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A downward trend can also be observed internationally. If you divide the ten-year period into two halves, Bayern made it to at least the semi-finals of the Champions League four times in the first five years and were more or less constant guests there. In the last five years, however, this has only happened twice. One can already get the impression that the image as an absolute top European club is playful, the superstars are not interested in Munich.

In the early years of Bayern's decade, they were able to lure their biggest competitor's top scorer, Robert Lewandowski, to Munich. Now the top scorer of the biggest competitor, Erling Haaland, is probably going to Manchester City. The most valuable kickers in the world don't play in Germany anyway.

That's because of the money. Bayern cannot keep up when bidding for Haaland. They have to leave that to clubs like Manchester City, which are not subject to the German 50+1 rule and virtually belong to an emirate whose sources of oil and money are not drying up anytime soon. But money is not everything, otherwise Paris St. Germain would have won the Champions League three times.

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With a clever plan, financial disadvantages can be compensated for. Only there is currently very little to see of such a thing in Munich. Julian Nagelsmann hasn't found his team's balance yet. The defense is full of holes, in the game forwards often only unimaginative crosses remain against defensive specialists. The young manager has yet to prove he's worth the record fee and his five-year contract. Although Nagelsmann is always confident, he is likely to be under particular observation in the coming year.

The sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić was at least as often wrong as right with his biggest decisions, he doesn't seem to exude much esprit either with his transfer policy or in dealing with the team. So far, the new CEO Oliver Kahn has not attracted attention with large lines and also seems to have trouble replacing Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and, last but not least, Uli Hoeneß emotionally. Which, to be fair, is difficult if not impossible.

And the players? Robert Lewandowski seems dissatisfied, Serge Gnabry not valued, Leroy Sané surfs the waves between top form and invisibility. Here, too, Nagelsmann still has to prove that he can lead superstars. But even more dangerous: The players who carry the team and hold it together, the exceptional talents Manuel Neuer and Thomas Müller, are well over 30 years old and will not play forever. You've already won enough.

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