Julian Nagelsmann is taking emotion out of the situation after it was confirmed Robert Lewandowski wants to leave Bayern Munich.

Lewandowski scored his 50th goal of the season across all competitions as Bayern capped off another successful Bundesliga campaign by drawing 2-2 at Wolfsburg on Saturday.

However, it was revealed before the match that the 33-year-old had refused the offer of a new deal.

Lewandowski is under contract until the end of next season but wants a new challenge after eight years with the Bundesliga giants. Barcelona have been heavily linked with making a move.

While Nagelsmann acknowledged it will be a loss whenever Lewandowski does leave Bayern – the club must decide whether to cash in over the coming months or instead keep him for next season and allow a free transfer – he insisted there is no time for sadness.

Instead, he must focus on the task of finding a replacement for a player who has broken countless records.

Nagelsmann told a news conference: "Yes, it is or would be a loss, but he still has a contract until 2023, and I think we have all already commented on this.

"There is also no other statement about it, except that he has a contract until 2023. There is really nothing more to report.

 

"Of course, it's always the case that if you lose a very good player, or lose a player in general, then it's always not nice. 'Sad' is maybe the wrong word, there are other things in life to be sad about.

"It rather gives the incentive to look for a new striker after the next season or in the next season who can then replace Lewy. That is then the job we have to do.

"There is little room for sadness, but you have to try to make the best out of the situation for the future."

Reflecting on his first season as Bayern coach, in which he led the Bavarians to a 10th straight Bundesliga title but failed to get past the quarter-finals in the Champions League, Nagelsmann said: "It was tough. It was not that easy this season.

"The first half of the season was good. We expected another result in the cup, but in the end, we were very good in the Champions League group stage, and we were very good in the league.

"In the second part of the season, we were struggling a little bit. It was not that stable anymore. Sometimes we played well, we did not get the best results, especially in the Champions League. At the end, I think we could have done it a bit better."

Robert Lewandowski anticipates swift progress after he asked to leave Bayern Munich, a shock to the system for the Bundesliga champions.

The 33-year-old striker, who reached 50 goals for the season by netting a header in Bayern's final match of the campaign on Saturday, has made it clear he does not see his future at the Allianz Arena.

All involved at Bayern are aware of Lewandowski's stance, which was confirmed before the 2-2 draw at Wolfsburg by sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.

They must either sell him and bring in useful funds or face losing the Poland striker on a free transfer in 12 months' time. Keeping a disenchanted player would be a risk and Lewandowski urged all parties to find a positive outcome.

"I spoke to Hasan Salihamidzic and told him that I had made a decision not to extend my contract with Bayern," Lewandowski told Polish broadcaster Viaplay.

"Both sides must think about the future. I informed the coach of my decision. I am not renewing the contract, and now the most important thing for both parties is to find a good solution.

"It is very possible that this was my last game for Bayern. I have one more year on the contract, everything will be clarified in the near future."

According to Polish newspaper Przeglad Sportowy, Lewandowski added: "We want to find the best solution for me and the club. Both sides want the decision to quit in the summer or stay for the final season as soon as possible."

Lewandowski finished as the Bundesliga's leading scorer for a seventh season, matching Gerd Muller's record to secure the league's cannon trophy once again. In the league alone, he managed 35 goals, and that form has seen him strongly linked with LaLiga giants Barcelona.

The former Borussia Dortmund star is the top scorer among players from Europe's top five leagues, ahead of Real Madrid's Karim Benzema, who came into the weekend on 44 goals across all competitions.

Madrid could yet bring in Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain to pair up with Benzema, and that would add to the onus on Barca to make their own statement signing.

Barca have financial issues to iron out before any deal could go ahead, as head coach Xavi pointed out on Saturday.

He has not spoken directly about Lewandowski to confirm Barca's interest, but Xavi could use a prolific goalscorer if his team are to challenge Madrid for domestic silverware next season.

Xavi explained he would not be averse to signing a veteran player, having noticed how stars in their mid to late thirties are increasingly staying in good shape, pinpointing the likes of Luka Modric, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Barca's own Dani Alves.

Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann said after the Wolfsburg game that a busy week awaits him at the club's headquarters, even with the season at an end.

"Next week is going to be a lot of time for me at Saebener Strasse," Nagelsmann said.

"Lots of appointments, with the players as well, just to work on the future, so we'll hopefully be more successful than we are currently."

Robert Lewandowski remains part of Julian Nagelsmann's plans for next season, despite speculation that the prolific striker could be on his way out of Bayern Munich.

The Poland international has a little over 12 months remaining on his contract with the Bundesliga champions and has been linked with a move to Barcelona.

According to reports from Germany on Thursday, Lewandowski has informed Bayern he does not intend to sign a new contract as he is seeking a new challenge elsewhere.

Should that be the case, Bayern must decide whether to cash in on the 33-year-old or lose him for nothing in a year's time when his deal expires.

While Nagelsmann was unwilling to confirm whether Lewandowski has made clear his thoughts to leave, the Bayern boss insists the club's position remains the same.

"He has been training very well, showing good commitment and scoring great goals," Nagelsmann said ahead of Saturday's league trip to Wolfsburg.

"He will be in the starting line-up tomorrow. His contractual situation is known and I won't give any information about anything else.

"If you want that then you'll have to ask Robert or [sporting director] Hasan Salihamidzic. But otherwise our position is known."

 

Nagelsmann said last week that Bayern had held positive talks with Lewandowski, while chief executive Oliver Kahn categorically ruled out a sale in the next transfer window.

Further probed on whether he has spoken to Lewandowski regarding his future, Nagelsmann said: "I don't have to.

"It's normal he's in my plans because he has a contract until June 2023. I often meet and speak with him. But we don't need to talk every single day."

Lewandowski joined Bayern from domestic rivals Borussia Dortmund in 2014 and has scored 343 goals in 374 appearances for the Bavarian giants.

That is 16 more than next-best Lionel Messi (327) in all competitions across the same period among players from Europe's top five leagues, followed by Cristiano Ronaldo (321).

He has scored 49 goals this season alone, which again makes him Europe's most prolific striker, with Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema (44) next on the list.

Lewandowski's goals have helped Bayern to a 10th straight Bundesliga triumph this season, though they disappointingly fell short in the DFB-Pokal and Champions League.

Asked if he will have the final say on whether Lewandowski stays or leaves, Nagelsmann said: "It's always a discussion with Kahn, Salihamidzic and me. I'm not more important."

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann says it was a "nice feeling" to lift the Meisterschale after the Bundesliga champions were held to a 2-2 draw by Stuttgart at the Allianz Arena on Sunday.

Goals from Tiago Tomas and Sasa Kalajdzic either side of strikes from Serge Gnabry and Thomas Muller secured a point for the visitors, while both teams missed other gilt-edged chances to seal a win in Sunday's exciting contest.

Bayern winger Kingsley Coman was sent off in stoppage time at the end of the game for reacting to a challenge from Konstantinos Mavropanos, but it made no difference to the outcome.

The draw means that Stuttgart can still save themselves from 16th place and a relegation play-off spot in the final round of Bundesliga matches next week.

If Pellegrino Matarazzo's men can beat Cologne at Mercedes-Benz Arena, they will leapfrog Hertha Berlin should Felix Magath's side lose at Borussia Dortmund.

Bayern were presented with the Meisterschale on Sunday after winning the title at Dortmund two weeks ago, and Nagelsmann savoured celebrating winning the title for the first time.

"From a head coach's point of view, the game against Dortmund was obviously more important, but when you then hold the trophy in your hands, it's a nice feeling," Nagelsmann told reporters after the presentation. 

"For the fans it was a good game, both teams wanted to win. It was entertaining, with many chances. We did many things well with the ball. Overall, we didn't defend well in phases after losing the ball. We gave away too many chances."

 

Bayern captain Manuel Neuer says it was special to be lift the trophy in front of fans after being unable to do so last season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are happy that we can now hold the trophy in our hands, show it to our fans and celebrate with them," Neuer said. "The last times fans weren't here, so it was very important that the fans were there again. Today, unfortunately not everything worked. The result is not what we wanted."

The 3-1 defeat at Mainz last week coupled with this result meant Bayern have claimed just one point since winning the league, and have conceded five goals in those two games, the same as they shipped in the nine games prior to that.

Matarazzo was pleased with his team's performance, noting in particular their bravery as Stuttgart created 15 chances.

"There was a lot of heart in it. I am very happy with the point," he said. "We were in the game from the first minute. It was good to take the lead, then we dropped a bit too deep and too far away from the opponents.

"Against Bayern, you simply have to survive their chances sometimes. In the first half, we had chances to calm the game down. We didn't take advantage of that. We wanted to be brave and we were."

Julian Nagelsmann says Bayern Munich have held encouraging contract talks with Robert Lewandowski's agent amid reported interest from Barcelona.

Lewandowski is contracted to the Bundesliga champions until June 2023 and Barca have been linked with a move for the prolific striker.

Bayern's management have met Pini Zahavi, Lewandowski's agent, as the Bavarian giants endeavour to keep the 33-year-old.

Nagelsmann is hopeful that an agreement can be reached.

The Bayern head coach said: "I asked if it was a good conversation. And it seems that it was. But there is nothing to report, in any sense.

"My position has not changed, we want to keep it as it is and extend his contract."

 

Nagelsmann is prepared to wait for Lewandowski to come to a decision over his future.

He said: "You know that Pini likes to negotiate and so you need a little patience. But that's one of my great strengths."

Lewandowski last week became the first player to score at least 34 Bundesliga goals in three consecutive seasons.

The Poland captain has found the back of the net an astonishing 49 times in all competitions in the 2021-22 campaign.

Julian Nagelsmann has no problem with his Bayern Munich players partying in Ibiza this week, saying they can do what they want on days off and telling the media: "I'm not their Dad".

The majority of the Bayern squad jetted off to the Spanish island after a 3-1 Bundesliga defeat at Mainz last weekend, with their 10th consecutive title already secured.

Hasan Salihamidzic, the Bavarian giants' sports director, stated the players had been allowed to take the short trip as a "team-building measure".

However, Bayern and Germany great Lothar Matthaus described the mini-holiday as unacceptable, while Hertha Berlin coach Felix Magath felt it was a bad look to go prior to the end of the campaign.

But the Bavarian giants' head coach Nagelsmann had no issue with his players for heading off on a short jaunt.

He said: "I am responsible for the team, for everything sporting, for training, planning, for the content and the preparation of the games.

"I lived up to my responsibility by giving two days off. Our players are all old enough and of legal age. They can also decide for themselves what they do on their days off.

"If they decide to fly there as a very large group, they should do so. They're old enough - I'm not their Dad or their tutor.

"Instead, together with Holger Broich [Bayern's club doctor], I have the task of designing the training plan in such a way that the load structure makes sense.

"That's why we gave the days off. The players can do whatever they want on their days off."

Julian Nagelsmann says Thomas Muller's new contract sends a "positive signal" and hopes other Bayern Munich players follow suit.

Long-serving forward Muller this week extended his deal with the Bundesliga champions until 2024.

Robert Lewandowski, Manuel Neuer and Serge Gnabry are only under contract with the Bavarian giants until the end of next season, while Corentin Tolisso and Niklas Sule are nearing the end of their deals, with the latter set to join Borussia Dortmund as a free agent ahead of 2022-23.

Bayern boss Nagelsmann says it was vital to keep Muller and believes the 32-year-old's decision to commit his future to the club may prompt some of his team-mates to stay.

He said in a press conference on Friday: "It was very important that he extended, this will also send a positive signal to people both within the club and outside of the club.

"It could mean others will follow suit now. I'm really happy about it."

Bayern face relegation-threatened Stuttgart in their final home game of the season at the Allianz Arena on Sunday.

The champions will be presented with the Meisterschale trophy and Nagelsmann wants his side to put on a show in front of a sell-out crowd.

He said: "I want to win the game, even though I have a lot of respect for Pellegrino Matarazzo as a man and as a coach.

"We will give our all to try and win our final home game in front of a sold-out Arena this season."

Stuttgart are 16th in the table and battling to avoid the drop but Nagelsmann says they can pose a threat.

He added: "They're a very versatile team. They can set up in a number of different ways. Matarazzo has some creative ideas. They're in a tough situation as they fight relegation. They've had a number of injuries at key moments this season."

In the past 38 seasons, Bayern have lost their final Bundesliga home game only once and it was Stuttgart who inflicted that defeat on them, winning 4-1 in 2018.

Julian Nagelsmann bemoaned Bayern Munich's underwhelming performance and suggested change is needed after the Bundesliga champions succumbed to defeat at Mainz.

Bayern secured a record 10th straight league title with Klassiker victory over Borussia Dortmund last weekend but were caught cold by Mainz after first-half strikes from Jonathan Burkardt and Moussa Niakhate.

Robert Lewandowski reduced the deficit with his 18th away league goal this season, setting a Bundesliga record for a single campaign, while taking his tally to 49 in all competitions – the most of any player in Europe's top five leagues.

Leandro Barreiro Martins restored the two-goal cushion after the interval for Bo Svensson's hosts as Mainz coasted to just a second league win over an uncharacteristically poor Bayern in their last 10 attempts.

Nagelsmann expressed frustration with his side after the defeat but acknowledged a downturn in performance was to be expected after the title win.

"We had too many performances and defeats of this kind this season," he told reporters.

"I have an explanation for it, but I won't give it to you. It's not for the media. I say it internally.

"After winning the 10th title in a row, it's a bit human but we still have to play for the badge on our chest.

"It seems like the passion isn't really there anymore. We reached a point where something needs to change. That's where we are right now."

Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich fell to a 3-1 defeat at Mainz despite Robert Lewandowski setting another record.

Julian Nagelsmann's side sealed a record 10th straight league title by defeating Borussia Dortmund last time out, but were soon behind on Saturday after strikes from Jonathan Burkardt and Moussa Niakhate.

Robert Lewandowski halved the arrears with his 18th away league goal this season – a new Bundesliga benchmark for a single campaign – before Leandro Barreiro Martins restored Mainz's two-goal cushion after the interval.

Bayern were unable to respond as the champions suffered just a second defeat in their last 10 games against Mainz, who moved up to ninth with victory.

Burkardt cannoned against the crossbar and the post, while the unmarked Alexander Hack was denied by the woodwork but Mainz's early dominance soon paid dividends.

Sven Ulreich thwarted Karim Onisiwo from close range yet could not stop Burkardt when the striker powered a left-footed attempt home following Dominik Kohr's headed offload.

Niakhate doubled Mainz's advantage when he tapped in after Anton Stach's flick, before Lewandowski rolled into the bottom-right corner following Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting's pass to reduce the deficit.

Barreiro Martins almost restored the hosts' two-goal lead before the interval, only for his left-footed free-kick to curl narrowly wide.

But Barreiro Martins' luck was in after the break when his strike deflected in off Benjamin Pavard.

Burkardt dragged wide and Onisiwo smashed onto the crossbar from the edge of the area as Bayern, who repeatedly appeared frail on the counter-attack, were unable to mount a comeback.

What does it mean? Bayern caught cold on the road at Mainz again

Bayern had won eight of their last nine league meetings with Mainz, though the one blemish on their record came in this fixture last season when the hosts ran out 2-1 winners.

Mainz scored first on that occasion and followed suit in this game as they opened the scoring for four straight games against the Bavarian giants – no other current Bundesliga side have achieved this consecutively more than twice.

Super Stach shines

Stach was a constant presence in the middle of the park for Bo Svensson's team, setting up Niakhate's goal – one of a game-leading seven key passes the midfielder supplied for Mainz.

Legendary Lewandowski

Despite speculation of a move away from Bayern with just over a year left on his contract, Lewandowski continues to deliver. His tally in all competitions this season now stands at 49.

No player has managed more goals in Europe's top five leagues, while the Poland international also put his name to yet another Bundesliga record.

What's next?

Bayern host Stuttgart on May 8, while Mainz make the trip to Hertha Berlin the day before.

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann reiterated his desire for Robert Lewandowski to stay at the club amid ongoing speculation over his future.

Lewandowski has scored 33 goals in the Bundesliga this season, 12 more than nearest rival Patrick Schick, to fire Bayern to a record-setting 10th straight league title with three games to spare.

The Poland international has found the net once every 81 minutes in the top flight this campaign, while no player has managed more than his 48 goals across all competitions in Europe's top five leagues.

However, questions persist as to the future of Lewandowski, who is entering the final year of his contract at the Allianz Arena with Barcelona reportedly preparing to swoop for the 33-year-old.

Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic insists the talisman will not be sold to avoid losing him on a free transfer, but Lewandowski suggested no new contract talks have been opened by the club.

Nagelsmann, speaking ahead of Saturday's visit to Mainz, reaffirmed his stance on wanting to keep his star striker at Bayern for as long as possible.

"It's always good when you have planning security in all areas of life. I've said it at least 50 times that of course I wish he would stay, nothing has changed this week. That's my point of view," he told reporters.

Salihamidzic has already rebuffed talk of signing Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, who will reportedly be available for a €75million release clause at the end of the season, as a replacement for Lewandowski.

Nagelsmann echoed Salihamidzic's sentiment as he ruled out moving for Haaland, who has scored 82 goals and supplied 19 assists in 86 appearances in all competitions since his Dortmund debut in January 2020.

Pressed on comparisons between the two strikers, the Bayern coach responded: "These are two different types of players that you can't compare. It's like apples and oranges."

 

Lewandowski is likely to feature at Mainz, fitness permitting, but Nagelsmann confirmed he will be without Thomas Muller, who has 17 top-flight assists this term – the most of any player in Europe's top five leagues.

"Muller is ill and will not travel this weekend. We will try to give some players the opportunity to start," he continued.

"[Eric Maxim] Choupo-Moting will definitely be in the starting line-up, that much I can say for sure. 

"The virtue of a winning mentality is noticeable in the lads even after the championship in training. My everyday life is a little more relaxed than in the middle of the season."

Bayern would surpass the Bundesliga record for most away goals in a season (47, a record set by Bayern in the 2019-20 season) with two strikes at Mainz, but Nagelsmann appeared uninterested by that feat.

"You always have to be a bit careful when it comes to respect for the opponent," he added on the possible record. 

"Of course we always want to score a lot of goals, that's what makes football so appealing. It won't be easy, but we're trying hard to find goals and play a good game offensively."

The dominance of Bayern Munich is not just down to financial muscle, but more the lack of consistency from their Bundesliga competition.

That is according to former Bayern midfielder Toni Kroos, who played 130 times for the Bundesliga giants before swapping Bavaria for Real Madrid in 2014.

Bayern became the first team across Europe's top five leagues to win their respective top flight on 10 successive occasions after a 3-1 victory over Klassiker rivals Borussia Dortmund last Saturday.

Julian Nagelsmann's side had previously shared the record of nine with Juventus, who won Serie A each year from 2012 to 2020, before cruising to their record-setting triumph with three games to spare.

Many cited Bayern's financial power as an issue in the German top flight, such as being able to prise Robert Lewandowski from Dortmund in 2014.

Indeed, Lewandowski helped power Bayern to the title with 33 Bundesliga goals so far this term, netting once every 81 minutes on average.

However, Kroos does not believe that it is just the disparity in transfer activity that has aided Bayern's dominance, but also the lack of constant pressure from title contenders Dortmund and RB Leipzig.

"The competition has to be more constant. Teams like Dortmund or Leipzig are quite capable of keeping up in certain phases," said Kroos in the Simply Mal Luppen podcast.

"But they are not as consistent. It's not just about money."

While Kroos was quick to question the competition provided by Dortmund and Leipzig, the 32-year-old could take nothing away from another fantastic season for Nagelsmann's men.

"It's an exceptional performance, especially mentally," said the midfielder. "It's no surprise that they are the best team in Germany in terms of quality.

"But wanting to do it year after year and giving the championship title meaning is something special."

 

Thomas Muller was also integral to the success of Bayern once again, with his 17 assists in 30 top-flight games this season unmatched by any player in Europe's top five leagues.

The evergreen Muller also surpassed former team-mate David Alaba (10 titles) as the Bundesliga's most decorated player of all time, having been ever-present in the 10-in-a-row feat alongside the title win in 2010 (11).

Kroos believes his former colleague Muller relishes the prospect of protecting Bayern's dominance every campaign.

"You can also say at some point, after the eighth, ninth, tenth time: 'Well, then not for a year.'," Kroos added.

"But I have the feeling that he has a lot of fun defending the thing year after year."

Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski has not yet heard anything from the club regarding talks over a new contract.

Lewandowski scored for a 27th time against former club Borussia Dortmund on Saturday, as Bayern's 3-1 win in Der Klassiker ensured the Bundesliga title was theirs for a 10th successive campaign.

That is a record across Europe's top five leagues, with no side having ever managed 10 titles in a row. Indeed, Bayern shared the previous record with Juventus (nine).

However, Lewandowski is about to enter the final year of his contract with Bayern, who he joined from Dortmund on a free transfer in 2014.

Speculation has mounted that the 33-year-old may well move on ahead of next season, with Barcelona having been linked.

 

And the Poland forward confirmed he has not yet been told if talks over a new deal were progressing.

"I read what was in the media, but I haven't heard anything from the club," Lewandowski told Sky Sport.

"A meeting is coming soon, but I don't know what will happen either.

"I also see what's happening, it's not that easy for me."

Lewandowski has scored 33 goals in the Bundesliga so far this season, 12 more than any other player, and Julian Nagelsmann would surely be against losing such a crucial player.

However, Bayern's boss - who has now won his first league title as a coach - trusts the club to make the right decision.

He told Sky Sport: "I trust in the work of [sporting director] Hasan [Salihamidzic] and Oliver [Kahn]. Today he played again very well. He secured a lot of balls and was extremely strong in tackles. 

"There is not much to say about him. It goes without saying when you look at the statistics how important he is for Bayern Munich."

Bayern Munich are champions of Germany for a 10th successive time after beating Borussia Dortmund 3-1 in Saturday's Klassiker to seal another Bundesliga triumph.

While the 2021-22 season has not entirely gone to plan, with Bayern falling well short in the DFB-Pokal and Champions League, they have once again dominated in the league.

Bayern's 10-in-a-row feat, with those successes coming under six different coaches, is something that has never previously been achieved in any of Europe's top five leagues.

Here, Stats Perform looks at the numbers behind the Bavarian giants' latest title romp.

Ten in a row unmatched

Bayern equalled Juventus' record, set between 2012 and 2020, with nine titles in a row last season and have now overtaken the Italian giants' record for successive crowns.

Prior to this ongoing run, Bayern's longest streak of consecutive titles were the three in a row they managed on three previous occasions (1972-1974,1985-1987 and 1999-2001).

The only other team to have had such a long run of dominance in the competition was Borussia Monchengladbach from 1975 to 1977 with three titles.

 

Julian's title joy

Julian Nagelsmann masterminded Bayern's latest triumph in his first season in charge, but he fell just short of setting the record for the youngest Bundesliga title-winning coach.

Aged 34 years and 275 days on the day of the Dortmund win, Nagelsmann is 35 days older than Matthias Sammer was when Dortmund lifted the title in 2002.

Incredibly, Nagelsmann is a seasoned campaigner when compared to Lippo Hertzka, who had only just turned 28 when he won LaLiga with Real Madrid in 1931-32.

Lewy leads from the front

Robert Lewandowski has scored 33 Bundesliga goals this term, which is 12 more than next-best Patrik Schick, meaning he is now almost certain to win another Golden Boot award.

The Poland international has been at his ruthless best once again this campaign, netting every 81 minutes in the top flight.

It seems almost certain that Lewandowski will finish top of the Bundesliga scoring charts for the seventh time, and the fifth time in a row since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did so in 2016-17.

The only other player to have finished top scorer in the division as many times was Bayern great Gerd Muller, who did so between the 1966-76 and 1977-78 campaigns.

Muller the magician

Prolific striker Lewandowski is very much the poster boy of this Bayern side, but that is not to say he has done it all on his own this season.

Thomas Muller, for example, has assisted 17 goals in 30 games. That is the most of any player in Europe's top five leagues.

However, he is still short of the 21 Bundesliga assists he managed in the 2019-20 campaign, with that the most of any player since Opta began recording such data in 2004-05. He still has three games to match that total.

 

Neuer another ever-present

Muller has been a key member of Bayern's squad throughout their decade of dominance, as has goalkeeper and captain Manuel Neuer.

The pair will set a record for the most German top-flight titles won in a row, surpassing ex-team-mates David Alaba, Jerome Boateng and Javi Martinez, who have all left.

Germany international Muller also lifted the title in 2010, with his overall haul of 11 seeing him surpass Alaba as the competition's outright most decorated player of all time.

In this footballing climate, what are Bayern Munich and where do they sit in its pecking order?

From Barcelona, to Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus in recent years, the financial and footballing disparity between Europe's elite and the rest has warped perception. Lifting the league trophy at the end of the season no longer provides safety for a head coach.

Even then, Bayern are an extreme example. In the six years since Pep Guardiola left for Manchester City, they have gone through six head coaches, despite winning the Bundesliga in every season over that same period.

Bayern have been global standard-bearers for nearly four decades. Where other clubs and leagues have had lull periods away from the very highest levels of European football, they have consistently been in contention for silverware, even in relatively weak periods.

Just as importantly, though, the superiority clubs like Bayern now enjoy almost automatically dictates they will dominate possession in many games, irrespective of the ideology of the coach in charge and whether their teams can function with the ball as a consequence.

Niko Kovac's first season in 2018-19 was a good example of this. Bayern came nowhere near functioning in possession relative to the array of talent they had and still – along with some aid from Borussia Dortmund's regression to the mean after initial xG over-performance under Lucien Favre – managed an 11-point turnaround from third place in February to win the Bundesliga.

Meanwhile, they were comprehensively beaten by Liverpool in the last 16 of the Champions League with the majority of possession. Things declined even further under Kovac in his second season, before Hansi Flick took over the head coaching role, conquered Europe and subsequently replaced Joachim Low as the German national team coach at the end of the 2020-21 season.

This is the wider context that must be considered for Julian Nagelsmann's first season and what follows, because both club and international football ultimately acts within a continuum. Ahead of this weekend's Klassiker, much like that first season under Kovac, there's a dissonance that will accompany Bayern's title win.

Ultimately, a 10th consecutive Bundesliga title will not wash away the taste of Bayern's meek elimination at the hands of Villarreal in the Champions League quarter-finals. Those two legs were a microcosm of numerous aspects concerning this Bayern season – their true capacity in possession relative to the level of opposition, Nagelsmann's continual switching between 4-2-3-1 and 3-4-3 formations, and finally from a standpoint of net gain, whether he's really getting the most out of the extraordinary creative forces that are Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski.

It is hard to overstate how Muller and Lewandowski provided more than goals and assists for Bayern under Flick. The utilisation of that duo was integral to the team's very functioning in possession, especially with Thiago Alcantara missing significant portions of that post-lockdown run late in the 2019-20 season. Kingsley Coman's decisive goal in the 2020 Champions League final against PSG was a perfect picture of the team when all three of Lewandowski, Muller and Thiago played – having initially tried to cover Muller, Leandro Paredes had to scramble, but it was too late, as Thiago fired his pass into Joshua Kimmich and Bayern got up the pitch.

Their combined touches in open play per 90 minutes under respective coaches makes for a good starting point. Under Kovac, Lewandowski and Muller held a combined 98.19 touches and 3.35 chances created from open play per 90 in all competitions. Flick's arrival leads to a dramatic spike for the two in both categories, with 107.6 touches in open play and 4.53 chances created in open play per 90.

 

 

Father Time will dictate an inevitable decline for the two as they approach 35, but more pertinently, Nagelsmann's approach has led to a return to their numbers under Kovac, with 98.59 touches per match and 3.85 chances created from open play between the two in all competitions this season. Then there's the discrepancy in eventual shot location.

The difference lies in involvement. Under Flick, Muller and Lewandowski effectively played as two strikers in a 4-4-2, while the wingers kept the defensive line pinned back, allowing the two with sufficient space to retreat and operate between the lines. Especially with midfielders like Kimmich and Leon Goretzka who do not like receiving the ball in tight areas, it was a critical component of Bayern's play and enabled them to open up the pitch.

Kimmich's increase in chance creation – his 2.83 per 90 this season is his highest out of the last four seasons in all competitions – is arguably born of the fact he is now Bayern's set-piece taker. His chance creation in open play has actually gone down from last season's 1.68 to 1.44, despite an increase in touches from 100.8 to 105.85.

 

 

Lewandowski and Muller's comparatively higher positioning and primary objective of threat behind the defensive line under Nagelsmann frankly makes the switching between 4-2-3-1 and 3-4-3 irrelevant, because the 34-year-old has taken away the very thing that made Bayern function to begin with – the pair's ability to incorporate as well as get on the end of moves. Jamal Musiala's deployment in a 3-4-3 in the second leg against Villarreal only managed to clog the middle of the pitch up even further.

The player who has suffered the most with this change, however, is Serge Gnabry. His combined xG+xA figure of 0.92 in 2019-20 has dramatically decreased to 0.69 this year, while the middle of the pitch has been completely closed off to him, something evident in his dribble progression.

 

 

It all relates to the eventuality of Bayern's shot location and quality. Shot volume in Nagelsmann's first season has gone up to 20.13 in comparison to the 18.08 of that treble season under Flick, but they are shooting from further away, and with no increase in xG per shot. Against better defences, teams that hold high volumes of possession but ultimately struggle to play through the middle of the pitch are eventually found out. That has been the case this year, in Europe and particular in domestic losses to Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Monchengladbach.

This all exists amid the backdrop of Bayern Munich's waning financial power and status as a destination in relation to the rest of Europe's elite. Bayern centre-back Niklas Sule is set to leave for arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund. Emerging stars from within the Bundesliga who traditionally would have been guaranteed to end up at Sabener Strasse such as Dortmund's Erling Haaland, or RB Leipzig's Cristopher Nkunku and Josko Gvardiol, appear destined for elsewhere.

In the meantime, Bayern are reportedly haggling with Ajax over the release of Ryan Gravenberch who, despite the hype, arguably will not transform their midfield – much like Corentin Tolisso and Marc Roca.

There is also the small matter of Lewandowski's contract not being renewed and running the risk of expiring at the end of next season.

Sustained success can run the risk of providing diminishing returns, much like Juventus discovered in Italy. The question for Bayern is how to avoid it both as a club and under Nagelsmann, but can they?

Julian Nagelsmann is relishing a "match point" game with Borussia Dortmund after Bayern Munich moved on the brink of another Bundesliga title with a 3-0 win at Arminia Bielefeld.

Bayern bounced back from the disappointment of their Champions League exit at the hands of Villarreal in routine fashion, goals from Robert Lewandowski, Serge Gnabry and Jamal Musiala securing all three points against their relegation-threatened opponents.

It means Bayern have a nine-point lead over Dortmund with four games remaining and can clinch the title with victory over their arch-rivals at the Allianz Arena next Saturday.

"It was a deserved win and it's important for us to have this match point game at home against Dortmund," Nagelsmann said in quotes reported by Bayern's official website. 

"It's a coincidence that doesn't happen very often. We're looking forward to that."

Bayern's Joshua Kimmich added: "The first half was pretty good, but in the second half we slowed down a bit. 

"We kept allowing counter-attacks with long balls. It was a deserved win. 

"We definitely want to win the title next week against Dortmund at home. This is a special game for us and for the whole Bundesliga. Because to get the championship trophy, that's clearly the ultimate goal."

Gnabry, who also created four chances, conceded there was an element of frustration from the aggregate defeat to Villarreal that was taken out on struggling Arminia.

"It was a bit of a reduction in frustration today after being eliminated from the Champions League, in which we had planned to progress," he said.

"But in the end, football just keeps going. Today was a new game. We wanted to win and we did. We played well with the ball, created a lot of space, let our opponents run and lost the ball a few times. 

"We had a lot of chances and maybe we could have scored earlier. But we can be satisfied." 

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