In the wake of the Champions League defeat against Real Madrid, enthusiasm was not at its highest in Munich. But everybody had expected a gala send off for outgoing coach Jupp Heynckes in his last match as coach at the Allianz Arena. The result was a rather bizarre shit sandwich.
Some of you readers may be thinking about the headline, and how it can sit alongside the image of the Bayern team celebrating yet another Bundesliga title. Their 28th German league title in all, and sixth in succession. Well here’s how it goes.
When Bayern have won the title, the final match in Munich is a celebratory event. For the past number of seasons, this has often been something long planned, on account of Die Roten wrapping things up long before the closing piece. At the beginning, there is a parade of past Bayern greats. At the end, there is the presentation of the famous silver platter. Then come the famous beer showers, or Bierdusche.
In between, there is a football match. A football match where Bayern are expected to deliver a show commensurate with the occasion.
Last year, the discussion was all about pop star Anastacia’s half-time show, and GoPro cameras attached to the large wheat beer glasses. This time around, there was none of that nonsense. Which was a good thing. Then there was the match itself. Which was not such a good thing.
There were plenty of smiles as the trophy was presented, and the usual mischief as the nonalcoholic Paulaner wheat beer found its way onto the heads and shoulders of unsuspecting victims. It was easy to forget the 1:4 defeat, Bayern’s biggest of the season. Visitors VfB Stuttgart were not great, but Bayern were worse than awful.
When I was last at a final day celebration in May 2015, it was a lot easier to get into the spirit of the occasion. Die Roten had safely dispatched FSV Mainz 05 with two unanswered goals, and the celebration felt right. This time, it was a little bizarre. At times, it felt a little forced. The crowd were applauding, but just one week before the DFB-Pokal final in Berlin, Bayern had served up something resembling a bowl of dog vomit.
When Stuttgart took the lead, there were no great concerns in the crowd. “This lot are rubbish,” I thought to myself. “We’ll score four now”. When Corentin Tolisso netted the equaliser following Robert Lewandowski’s accidental assist, the more likely that four-goal scenario looked realistic. We just needed to step up a gear.
Cue another defensive calamity three minutes before the break, and another soft Stuttgart goal.
Those Bayern goals never came. As the men playing in their new Trikots continued to fluff their lines, Stuttgart scored two more. The party balloon had been popped. Bayern had been well and truly taken to the cleaners, and Lewandowski’s mission to score his 30th league goal of the season was a case of him trying too hard.
There has been some talk that Lewy is not a team player, and there is plenty to support this claim. When he misses an opportunity, the shoulders drop. When a team mate scores a goal, there is a distinct lack of enthusiasm. Then there the one number hidden among his otherwise impressive statistics, which is telling. In 30 Bundesliga matches, he has provided just two assists.
Compare that to the less heralded Sandro Wagner, who has notched up the same number of assists in just 14 outings, and with considerably less actual game time. It is not surprising that when Lewandowski stepped up to receive the bronze Torjägerkanone, the applause from the crowd was a little muted.
Lewy has always been a hot topic for the transfer talk gossip-mongers, but this time one has to wonder whether there might be something in it this time around. There is no denying his talent, but there will have to be a change in attitude next season. Maybe Niko Kovač will be the man to pull the right strings.
Golden finale in Berlin
The sooner this calamitous home finale can be forgotten, the quicker the team can concentrate on next week’s DFB-Pokal final. Bayern’s kids gave opponents Frankfurt a decent beating, but cup finals always bring the best out of Bayern’s opponents. It is a one-off, and anything can happen on the day.
Perhaps the biggest story will be that of Frankfurt coach Kovač taking on his future staff in what will be his final game in charge. He was worked impressively to transform the Die Adler from relegation candidates into trophy challengers, and will no doubt be looking to rounds things off with a final flourish.
Despite the beer showers, the final show in Munich was a damp squib. We are now hoping that we can round things off with a win in Berlin next week, and secure yet another domestic double. Bayern may have fallen short in Europe, but will be looking to give Jupp Heynckes a rousing send off. He deserves nothing less.