Bayern Munich`s German rivals wave white flag
The Bundesliga resumes on Friday for Bayern Munich`s top-of-the-table clash at VfL Wolfsburg, but some of the Bavarian giants` German league rivals are already waving the white flag.
Berlin: The Bundesliga resumes on Friday for Bayern Munich`s top-of-the-table clash at VfL Wolfsburg, but some of the Bavarian giants` German league rivals are already waving the white flag.
Second-placed Wolves are tasked with stopping Pep Guardiola`s side extending their 11-point lead at the top of the table as Bayern chase a third-straight league title.
Guardiola`s team is set to break their own record having held a seven-point lead at the same stage last season before being crowned German champions for the 24th time with seven league games left.
But as the current campaign resumes after the winter break, Bayern`s huge lead only seems to have demotivated their rivals.
"The gap to Bayern is never going to be closed again," predicted Rudi Voeller, director of sport of third-placed Bayer Leverkusen, who are 17-points behind Bayern.
"You can scout as well as you want, but you`re never going to get into a position where you can get even close to matching them.
"There are just worlds lying in between."
And Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking refuses to accept the German media describing his side as `Bayern Hunters`.
"Bayern are hard to stop, so we can`t afford to spend too much time looking at them," he said last December.
"We`re not `Bayern Hunters`, I don`t want to point that out every week, they`d need to only play with seven men every week for us to catch them up.
"We just need to worry about ourselves."
Bayern, who beat second division side VfL Bochum 5-1 in a warm-up friendly on Friday, have won the Bundesliga for the last two seasons, but their main rivals Borussia Dortmund, the 2011 and 2012 German champions, have endured a dramatic fall from grace this season.
Several factors, not least seeing stars Mario Goetze and Robert Lewandowski sign for Bayern in the last two seasons, have contributed to Borussia losing 10 of their first 17 games.
Down in 17th position, they trail Bayern by a massive 30 points, are level on points and goal difference with bottom side Freiburg and their main concern for 2015 is staying up.
As Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp put it, albeit tongue-in-cheek: "Any football supporter who just wants success has only one chance: to be a Bayern fan. That`s the best way to be happy."Voeller`s gloomy prediction of Bayern`s continued domination is fully justified.
Bayern became the first German team to win the treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup titles under Guardiola`s predecessor Jupp Heynckes in 2013 with a tried-and-tested 4-2-3-1 formation.
But Guardiola has taken them to a new level by making them unpredictable, while starving the opposition of possession.
Munich regularly produce incredibly high possession figures and Guardiola is not afraid to change formation three or even four times during a match.
Captain Philipp Lahm described it as "maximum flexibility" while Mueller says Guardiola is never afraid to admit when he is wrong.
"He thinks about every player in every game to find the right strategy in every game," said Mueller.
"But if he sees his plan doesn`t work after ten minutes, then he`s not stubborn. He`ll change it."
Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso says the star-studded squad has no problem adapting to a new system mid-match, for example in their 2-1 come back win at home to Dortmund in November.
"We are working to more than one system to respond as quickly as possible to the circumstances in the game," said Alonso.
But the fuel currently driving Bayern`s seemingly unstoppable engine is Guardiola`s insatiable desire for perfection, born from a fear of yielding their status as Germany`s top side.
"When I see Dortmund, I always think, okay Pep, this can happen to us," he explained.
"This is a lesson for me. Bayern can also lose. To prevent this situation, we must always try to improve."
"In football, everything is possible. You can`t relax."