VIDEO: Jaded Bayern contend with porous defence as Lazio lurk - GulfToday

VIDEO: Jaded Bayern contend with porous defence as Lazio lurk


A Bayern Munich training session in progress ahead of their Champions League match. Courtesy: Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich are showing chinks in their armour ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 first leg at Lazio after dropping points and leaking goals in the Bundesliga.

The reigning European champions crashed to a 2-1 league defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, having already been held to a 3-3 home draw by strugglers Arminia Bielefeld last Monday.

Bayern’s commanding lead in the Bundesliga has been slashed from seven points in early February to just two after second-placed Leipzig’s 3-0 win at Hertha Berlin on Sunday.

Their defence remains a cause for concern having conceded 31 goals after 22 league games -- their worst record at the back for 29 years.

The Bavarians have looked fatigued since winning the Club World Cup in Qatar 11 days ago.

Over the weekend, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge took a swipe at the team’s poor form.

“We’re too inconsistent,” Rummenigge said.

“We sometimes only put in the effort over the last few metres,” he added after Bayern had found themselves 2-0 down against both Frankfurt and Bielefeld.

“That (dropping five points) is unusual for FC Bayern and not what we had in mind.”

The strength in depth of Bayern’s bumper squad has been severely tested since their Qatar sojourn.

Defender Benjamin Pavard and Thomas Mueller have been sidelined after testing positive for Covid-19, heartening news though being that Javi Martínez and Leon Goretzka have recovered. Goretzka came on for his first appearance in Saturday’s defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt since testing negative for Covid-19 in January.

The midfielder is likely to rekindle his partnership with Joshua Kimmich.

Midfielder Corentin Tolisso is expected to be out for months after surgery on an injured thigh, while winger Serge Gnabry is struggling to recover in time to face Lazio after also suffering a thigh problem.

Mueller’s understudy Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has struggled to provide Lewandowski with the sort of service Bayern’s top-scorer is used to.

Leroy Sane has so far failed to tighten the defensive side of his game to complement his undeniable flair in attack, which Bayern bosses have noticed, since joining from Manchester City.

Lazio meanwhile are in good form ahead of their first appearance in the knockout stage for 20 years. The Italian club struggled more than expected against Sampdoria but saw out a 1-0 win to claim their seventh victory in eight Serie A matches. Their injury problems are easing but defenders Ștefan Radu and Luiz Felipe and goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha are all still out.

CHELSEA’S TUCHEL WARY OF SUAREZ BITE: Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel revealed he is such a fan of Luis Suarez that he tried to sign the Uruguayan for Paris Saint-Germain before he made the move from Barcelona to Atletico Madrid in September.

Tuchel is now tasked with stopping Suarez, who has fired Los Rojiblancos to the top of La Liga, when the Blues face the Spanish side in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday.

Seven games into his reign as Chelsea manager, Tuchel remains unbeaten, with the Londoners fifth in the Premier League and into the FA Cup quarter-finals.

However, the German is aware he faces his biggest challenge yet against an Atletico side with bags of experience in knockout Champions League ties under Diego Simeone.

“This is for sure a big test -- sporting, mentally and physically,” Tuchel said on Monday. “This is a very experienced club at this level, a very experienced and tough coach to play against.

“It’s clear when you play against Atletico what you get. You get hard fighting and there are many teams who have experienced this.”

Atletico’s style has evolved this season, though, to accomodate a range of attacking options including Suarez, Joao Felix and Marcos Llorente.

Suarez is La Liga’s joint top goalscorer alongside former teammate and close friend Lionel Messi, suggesting that Barcelona’s desire to offload the 34-year-old was hasty.

Tuchel, then PSG boss, was keen to reunite Suarez with another departed Barca superstar -- Neymar -- to form a frightening front three also featuring Kylian Mbappe.

Suarez has a history with Chelsea. One of his three high-profile biting incidents left its mark on former Blues defender Branislav Ivanovic during Suarez’s time in England with Liverpool.

Tuchel, though, insisted Chelsea have to focus on the present rather than settling old scores.

“For me it’s never a good thing to look too far behind,” he said.

The match will take place in Bucharest rather than Madrid due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

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