Beginning of the end for Tuchel at Bayern as Leipzig game looms

Thu, Feb 22, 2024
Soccer News (AP)

Beginning of the end for Tuchel at Bayern as Leipzig game looms

DUESSELDORF, Germany (AP) - It's the beginning of the end for Thomas Tuchel at Bayern Munich.

After Bayern confirmed Tuchel will leave the club at the end of the season, the team faces a tough task to salvage what it can from the remaining Bundesliga and Champions League games.

That starts on Saturday against Leipzig, a team Bayern has failed to beat in any of its three games under Tuchel.

Leipzig's young, fast forwards like Los Openda, Xavi Simons and Benjamin Sesko could do well against a Bayern defense badly depleted by injuries.

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In his statement announcing Tuchel's departure, Bayern chief executive Jan-Christian Dreesen made a point on Wednesday of saying he would "hold the team accountable" for its performances over the rest of the season.

That followed midfielder Joshua Kimmich seeming to confront Tuchel's assistant coach Zsolt Low after losing at Bochum 3-2 last week, and comes after Tuchel's repeated claims that the team underperforms in games compared to what the players show in training.

In theory, at least, Tuchel's Bayern still has a shot at two trophies, though it would mean unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen blowing an eight-point lead and Bayern coming back from a 1-0 first-leg deficit to Lazio in the Champions League.

Leverkusen could extend its lead to 11 points if Xabi Alonso's team beats Mainz on Friday, a day before Bayern hosts Leipzig.

Tuchel has lost 11 of his 44 games in charge at Bayern. When Bayern management fired his predecessor Julian Nagelsmann in March, Nagelsmann had lost 10 of 83.

Bayern's defense also has a worrying tendency to collapse under pressure, too. Last week's loss at Bochum was the eighth time in Tuchel's 11-month tenure the team conceded three or more goals in a game.

One player at fault in the most recent losses at Lazio and Bochum was defender Dayot Upamecano, who was sent off in both games. He's suspended against his old club Leipzig, deepening selection problems for Tuchel and his injury-hit squad.

The most pressing priority is who should play the right back role. Options include Eric Dier, on loan from Tottenham, or Konrad Laimer, a midfielder who's covered the role before but has been out injured for the last month. Tuchel might even opt for Kimmich to return to the right back role he played early in his career but hasn't occupied regularly for five years.

The announcement of Tuchel's departure overshadowed another development that was arguably more significant for Bayern, and for German soccer as a whole.

The collapse of the league's plan to sell a stake in future media rights income to an outside investor should end months of increasingly disruptive protests causing long delays at German games.

The biggest clubs like Bayern and Borussia Dortmund were prominent supporters of the plan and face questions over how they might choose to raise money for the future.

For now, expect to see German fans celebrating a victory over the league's bosses and an end to the tennis balls, model cars and bicycle locks which became unlikely symbols of protest.

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