With anger in their stomachs, Julian Nagelsmann and Hasan Salihamidzic declared the summit meeting against Borussia Dortmund to be the final. The duel on April 1 is on the ninth-last match day, but after losing the top spot to BVB, the Bayern team sees the championship series in its eleventh year in serious jeopardy.
"Now we're under a lot of pressure against Dortmund," said coach Nagelsmann after the 2-1 draw at Bayer Leverkusen: "We have to win, otherwise the championship will be difficult." And sports director Salihamidzic made it clear: "We have to bring mentality and greed back onto the pitch, because it's about the championship!"
Perhaps they thought for too long in Munich that BVB, who were always low and still nine points away in winter, could not become a real threat. But with the 6-1 win over 1. FC Köln on Saturday, Dortmund had overtaken them. And Munich didn't fight back on Sunday. Now they know: Suddenly it's a long way to the eleventh championship title in a row. "If we draw or lose in the worst case, then it won't be any easier with the run that Dortmund is currently on," said Nagelsmann: "That's why we put a lot of pressure on ourselves."
Kimmich: "We can all read the table"
In theory, the players seem to have understood what is at stake. "We have to win the game, otherwise we'll be out of the race very quickly," said Joshua Kimmich, who will lead the national team through the week in Manuel Neuer's absence and scored the opening goal in Leverkusen (22nd minute): "All of us can read the table. And we all saw our performance today. Accordingly, we all know that we are now under pressure in all competitions."
What really caused concern in Munich: Sunday's defeat was no accident, but well-deserved. Leverkusen were already the better team before the two penalties by Exequiel Palacios (56th/73rd). Nobody from the Munich camp talked about it afterwards, everyone described the defeat as deserved.
And the main reason the bosses saw was the attitude of the team. Like Nagelsmann, Salihamidzic used the word "sluggish" and began general criticism based on feelings "that I don't know what they are called". His team missed "everything": "That wasn't what Bayern Munich means." The team is "so good" but "not as good when they play like they do today. When they think they can do everything with the quality of play. They just can't do that. Quality is also mentality and duel strength, that was today not there at all." Thomas Müller explained that Leverkusen were "more poisonous, courageous and bilious over 90 minutes. We have to ask ourselves a few questions."
Bayern coach suffers with the referee
There are also numbers that support the lack of concentration: For the first time in more than a year, the Munich team lost after taking the lead. And for the first time in an incredible 43 years, they conceded six penalties in one season. There was no doubt about the legality of the two on Sunday, despite the strange circumstances that referee Tobias Stieler had to withdraw yellow cards for swallows against Amine Adli after video evidence. "I'm generally a friend of the VAR," said Nagelsmann: "Today there were two penalties, so everything was in the spirit of justice, so it was bitter but fair."
The Bayern coach even suffered with Stieler, who felt "saved" by the video evidence and was promised Adli's jersey as a sign of reconciliation. "It also took the pressure off the referee," he said. "Imagine if he had let the two yellow cards stand, we might have won 1-0 and hadn't gotten two clear penalties against us." Not only the people of Leverkusen would have complained, but also the people of Dortmund.