Union Berlin 1-1 Bayern Munich, Stadion An der Alten Försterei
(Prömel 4′ — Lewandowski 67′)
Bayern Munich have now drawn four of their last seven games in all competitions. They have gone two consecutive Bundesliga games without a win for the first time this year and, with one third of the season played, they only lead the Bundesliga on goal difference.
Admittedly, it’s more of a deceleration than a crisis, but it’s all relative. As Hansi Flick said ahead of the trip to the capital: “We are where we want to be: up there.” And in this most unprecedented of seasons with a fixture list more congested than ever, that’s all anyone can realistically expect.
Bayern ended last season with 29 wins in 30 games to claim an historic treble. After less than a month’s rest, they have continued where they left off, losing just once in all competitions this season.
Tiredness on show
They have, however, conceded 17 goals in eleven Bundesliga games — their worst record since 2008 — and they’ve conceded first in their last five. On Saturday, Grischa Prömel’s header from Christopher Trimmel’s corner came just four minutes in for Union.
Even before that, Manuel Neuer had been forced to make a spectacular save after Taiwo Awoniyi had burst through Bayern’s high line. If the Bavarians have an Achilles’ heel, then that is surely it — as RB Leipzig showed last week.
Awoniyi went through again midway through the half but slid his shot wide, while Keita Endo also spurned a good chance in the second half after Robert Lewandowski (who else?) had drawn Bayern level.
The equalizer was deserved, but this wasn’t vintage Bayern. The champions completed only 80 percent of their passes rather than their usual 90. A case of complaining about first world problems, perhaps, but these are the standards by which Bayern measure themselves.
“We didn’t manage to play the ball in a controlled manner from man to man, or to establish ourselves in the opposition half,” analysed Thomas Müller, for whom Union are the only current Bundesliga team he is yet to score against.
“There were one or two situations in which we didn’t look good,” added Neuer. “It could have been possible to beat us today.”
No Kruse, no party
Union certainly came close. The Berliners have arguably been the biggest surprise of the season so far and went into the game in sixth place. Only Bayern had scored more, but Union were missing striker Max Kruse, responsible for five goals and five assists in the last six games.
Still, regardless of the current table, no-one in Köpenick was under any illusions regarding the gulf between these two clubs, as the banner hung along the empty terrace in full view of the television cameras showed.
“A new formula but the same old ‘fairness’ – for a fairer distribution of TV money!” it read, referring to the German Football League’s (DFL) decision during the week on the future distribution of television revenues, which fell short of many supporters’ expectations. Even Union’s official English language Twitter account echoed the sentiment.
Some Union fans appeared to try to level the playing field by offering what support they could from outside the stadium, welcoming the team bus with flares, singing audibly and even setting off fireworks. “Union were strong today, and I think they deserved a point,” admitted Müller.
As for Bayern, this was certainly a reminder that, regardless of the amount of money washing around, even the very best won’t have it easy in this most difficult of seasons.