“The most important thing,” said Hansi Flick, “is that nobody got hurt,” and what else is a phrase that coaches like to use after a test game defeat was nothing but a bitter mathematical truth on Saturday. The calculation goes like this: The current squad of FC Bayern minus the starting eleven deployed on Saturday – what is left? Flick was able to observe this in the second half of the test game in Nuremberg: well, the goal was Sven Ulreich, who has also played in a Champions League semi-final, and yes, Mickael Cuisance, whom some in the club for a future hope, played in midfield hold. Not to forget: In the storm, Joshua Zirkzee stormed, who had scored two last minute goals in the Bundesliga shortly before Christmas. But otherwise? Otherwise there played Mai, Richards, Dajaku, Arrey Mbi, Batista Meier, Singh, Arp, Tillman.
The squad minus a first team that meets the requirements of FC Bayern Munich, so that results in a team that is a mix of U23 and U19. According to this calculation, there remains a team that was “overwhelmed by a tick” against a second division team in the relegation battle, that was how Flick saw it.
The team lost the first and last test of FC Bayern in preparation for the second half on Saturday 2: 5 (1: 1) at 1. FC Nürnberg. Just a few minutes after the final whistle, the result no longer interested anyone in the Munich travel team. Nobody had been injured, that was really the most important thing for them. Apart from that, this game had shown how appropriate the recent discussions in the club were. “The fact is,” said Joshua Kimmich, “that we are already sparse in terms of width.”
The 2: 5 in Nuremberg does not mean the end of the Munich title hopes, the gap in the league to league leaders Leipzig is still four points, but this 2: 5 in Nuremberg showed what a broad, tough, damn difficult course this second half of the season for FC Bayern could be. The current first eleven, who were initially allowed to play in Nuremberg, were visibly tired and unfocused after the training camp in Doha and the return flight on Friday, “it was not a perfect performance by us,” admitted Kimmich. Munich were far away, not only when Michael Frey (22nd) conceded the first goal, but in general when the host tried to counterattack. “We had too many simple mistakes, especially when it came to setting up the game,” said Kimmich. But that was, to a not insignificant extent, a snapshot of the tiredness and probably also the unwillingness to spend more minutes of physical agony. What will remain, however, are the discussions about the squad.
Thiago returns to the start of the second half of the season at Hertha BSC, who paused in Nuremberg because of the birth of his second child – but he only fills the next gap as Kimmich will be suspended with a yellow card. Robert Lewandowski, who was operated on the groin just before Christmas and had trained in Munich last week, “looks good,” said Flick. Should the attacker return, the trainer would have had a more proven switch option on the bench. And then some U19 and U23 players as well as the loyal substitute goalkeeper Ulreich. That was it already.
“In the end, the club has to make the decision”
Upon returning to Munich, Flick said he would sit down with sports director Hasan Salihamidzic and “analyze what is feasible and what is not,” but there is not much to discuss for Flick. Over the past few days he has repeatedly pointed out in different clarities that something has to be done, and this 2-5 in Nuremberg should have confirmed him in this analysis. It will probably take weeks before other injured players report that they are ready for action; Even for striker Serge Gnabry, the game in Berlin could come too soon after his problems with the Achilles tendon.
When it comes to access, the trainer therefore still sounds like someone who will adhere to his demands. “It has to be a footballer who takes us further and who fits our philosophy,” he said. He added: “There is no reason to get hectic”; most injuries are not long-term injuries. But that was the only concession he was ready to accept.
On Friday, on the return trip, Flick had said that the players would also see this transfer need, it was a cunning phrase to further increase the pressure on Salihamidzic. And apparently the coach didn’t gamble too high. On Saturday, asked about the return of the injured far away, Kimmich said: “The club knows that this will still take a while, and in the end the club has to make the decision.”