Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann has no favourite for Super Bowl LVI and may well not be awake to take it in regardless.

The Los Angeles Rams take on the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday in California, though it will be beyond midnight in Germany by the time the game starts.

This week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced Germany would stage four NFL games over the next four seasons, starting from the 2022 campaign.

Indeed, it will be Bayern's Allianz Arena that hosts the first NFL regular-season game to be played in mainland Europe, with Frankfurt the other venue.

With the Super Bowl dominating headlines in the lead-up to this weekend, Nagelsmann was quizzed on his preference ahead of the Rams-Bengals clash.

"I don't have a favourite. My favourites have all been eliminated," Nagelsmann explained in a news conference on Friday.

"I don't have one favourite team. I have a connection to the Kansas City Chiefs, but I also find the Green Bay Packers interesting."

He then quipped: "Most of the time, when I watch the Super Bowl I fall asleep at halftime because I have a [lot of] work to do."

Asked if he is excited by the prospect of the NFL coming to Germany, following its success of staging games in London over recent years, Nagelsmann joked: "The anticipation in Germany is very great... when I get tickets!"

In total, five NFL regular-season games will be played outside the United States next season.

Three will take place in London, one in Munich and one in Mexico.

Julian Nagelsmann will be "sad" to see Niklas Sule leave Bayern Munich but reiterated that the centre-back remains a crucial player for the remainder of the season.

It was confirmed last month that Sule would not be signing a new contract with Bayern. His current deal expires at the end of 2021-22.

And despite links to several Premier League and LaLiga clubs, it was revealed on Monday that Sule had agreed to join Bayern's Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund at the end of the campaign.

That decision was questioned by Bayern chairman Herbert Hainer earlier this week, as he queried why Sule would take what he views as a step down rather than go for a potentially more lucrative move to England or Spain.

Nagelsmann, however, has maintained his balanced view of the situation, having recently defended Sule following criticism from Bayern great Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

"I don't judge it at all because it's not my decision, it's not my life," he told a news conference ahead of Bayern's game with Bochum. 

"Of course I'm sad because I've been with him for a long time. These are normal processes in football, that players leave us on a free transfer.

"But we still have to get along and make it clear that Niklas is still our player until June 30, and we want the title with greed.

"I can understand that fans are frustrated. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose."

 

Sule joined Bayern from Hoffenheim in 2017 and has made 159 appearances for the club, winning four Bundesliga titles and two DFB-Pokal crowns, as well as the 2019-20 Champions League.

This season, he has played in 19 Bundesliga games, making 21 interceptions and winning 31 aerial duels.

Asked if Tanguy Nianzou, a 19-year-old who joined Bayern from Paris Saint-Germain in 2020, may step up to replace Sule next season, Nagelsmann replied: "Tanguy is a talent, but he's getting to an age when he has to play consistently. 

"There are moments when he plays outstandingly, then there are moments when he plays hair-raising bad passes. That's certainly due to the lack of rhythm.

"The coach has to take responsibility for that, but that creates a vicious cycle, you don't get any game practice and therefore no consistency.

"He has a very great asset and that is his aggression and his unconditional will to defend. Now he has to work on his consistency."

Nianzou has made just 21 appearances for Bayern so far, with just four of those being starts.

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer have leapt to the defence of the departing Niklas Sule following criticism from club legend Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Sule confirmed earlier this week that he would exit Bayern when his current contract expires at the end of this season, despite being offered a new deal by the German champions.

The 26-year-old defender's decision led to Rummenigge stating he "never really asserting himself in his position" at Bayern.

Sule joined Bayern from Hoffenheim in 2017 and has made 159 appearances for the club, winning four Bundesliga titles and two DFB-Pokal crowns as well as the 2019-20 Champions League.

Former Bayern skipper Stefan Effenberg chimed in, adding Sule “decided against sporting success and for more money”.

"I've only read it and haven't spoken to him about it yet," Nagelsmann told Sky when asked about Rummenigge's comments.

"Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is so regarded that he can say things. In the end it is important that Niklas performs well. That's more important than interviews."

He continued: “He has a contract situation that allows him to make a change. One can understand that.

"We will have a very good central defender again next year. We have to see what's going on in the transfer market. Everyone would have liked to keep him."

Sule put in a full shift in Saturday's 3-2 win over RB Leipzig, with Bayern captain Neuer admitting his departure hurts but defending his decision to leave.

"It annoys us all that Niklas is going," Neuer told Sky . "He's a very good player, we'll miss him.

"He came from Hoffenheim, that was the way until he worked his way up to his peak performance. It's a process - and I think you can say today that it has succeeded."

He added: "When a player decides to go a different route, everyone lives their own career, you accept such decisions."

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer have leapt to the defence of the departing Niklas Sule following criticism from club legend Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Sule confirmed earlier this week that he would exit Bayern when his current contract expires at the end of this season, despite being offered a new deal by the German champions.

The 26-year-old defender's decision led to Rummenigge stating he "never really asserting himself in his position" at Bayern.

Sule joined Bayern from Hoffenheim in 2017 and has made 159 appearances for the club, winning four Bundesliga titles and two DFB-Pokal crowns as well as the 2019-20 Champions League.

Former Bayern skipper Stefan Effenberg chimed in, adding Sule “decided against sporting success and for more money”.

"I've only read it and haven't spoken to him about it yet," Nagelsmann told Sky when asked about Rummenigge's comments.

"Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is so regarded that he can say things. In the end it is important that Niklas performs well. That's more important than interviews."

He continued: “He has a contract situation that allows him to make a change. One can understand that.

"We will have a very good central defender again next year. We have to see what's going on in the transfer market. Everyone would have liked to keep him."

Sule put in a full shift in Saturday's 3-2 win over RB Leipzig, with Bayern captain Neuer admitting his departure hurts but defending his decision to leave.

"It annoys us all that Niklas is going," Neuer told Sky . "He's a very good player, we'll miss him.

"He came from Hoffenheim, that was the way until he worked his way up to his peak performance. It's a process - and I think you can say today that it has succeeded."

He added: "When a player decides to go a different route, everyone lives their own career, you accept such decisions."

Niklas Sule is set to leave Bayern Munich as a free agent at the end of the season, but Julian Nagelsmann has no ill feelings towards the defender.

Sule was offered a new deal by Bayern but has instead decided his future lies elsewhere.

The centre-back has missed just two Bundesliga games this season and will surely be highly sought after as a free agent.

Nagelsmann acknowledged that his initial response was to wonder if he had done something to aggravate Sule, whom he also worked with at Hoffenheim, but he does not believe that to be the case.

Indeed, he insisted his relationship with Sule remains strong and he is excited to see what the future holds for the Germany international.

"I know his reasons, but I'll keep them between us," Nagelsmann said in a news conference ahead of Saturday's clash with his old club RB Leipzig. 

"I would have liked to have kept Niklas here, so he plays a lot. There is absolutely nothing going on between us. Decisions like his are part of football.

"There will be players that I'm happy with, and sometimes players leave that you are not happy with. 

"I wondered if I had done something wrong or could have done better. I think that's part of reflecting.

"Niklas will be with us until the summer. Then I wait with the same excitement as everyone else where he will go and how he will fare at his new club."

Julian Nagelsmann was happy with Bayern Munich's performance as they swept aside Hertha Berlin 4-1 in the German capital on Sunday, particularly with the quality of their counter-pressing.

Goals from Corentin Tolisso, Thomas Muller, Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry restored Bayern's six-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga, despite a late reply from Jurgen Ekkelenkamp after a mistake from substitute Dayot Upamecano.

The reigning champions dominated the game, having 30 shots of which 19 were on target, registering an overall expected goals (xG) tally of 5.00.

"I'm very pleased with the performance," Nagelsmann said at a post-match news conference. "The first half was a bit stronger than in the return fixture. Our players were extremely sharp in their counter-pressing. We had many chances from our possession.

"In the second half, Hertha were a bit better. Overall, it's a deserved win and a very good game from us."

 

Muller was also impressed by the team's efforts, especially in creating the number of chances they did.

"We played well. We had a lot of attacking players on the pitch," the 32-year-old said after scoring his sixth league goal of the campaign.

"We were looking forward to the game because we knew what we were going to do today. On the other hand, of course, you never know how an attacking wing pairing of Coman and Gnabry will work."

Muller added, quoted on Bayern's official website: "The first half was maybe even a bit better than the second because we had more control.

"Our counter-pressing was a bit better, we allowed practically nothing. We had Berlin pinned down right from the start and let nothing go to waste, and had chance after chance. A very good afternoon of football."

Julian Nagelsmann has dismissed the idea of the Bundesliga adopting play-offs in the style of American sports – predicting Bayern Munich would still be likely champions.

The concept was proposed by former Bayern technical director Michael Reschke, who now works for a leading player management group.

Reschke, speaking to German sports show Ran this week, suggested a system that would see the top four in the league battle it out for the title in a mini tournament, claiming it would add an extra edge to the season's end.

He said play-offs should only take place in years when there is no summer international tournament.

Yet Nagelsmann says adding more games to the calendar would likely do more harm than good.

The Bayern head coach said in a news conference on Friday: "Despite the play-offs, things would technically stay the same.

"It's not like you'd have to pick someone, draft someone or comply with a salary cap or whatever. Even with play-offs, we would still have a good chance to win this.

"I said many times that you have to be cautious that there is not too much sport on TV. Or not more than currently. A demand can become over-saturated if there's too much of it.

"Football lives from its fans and spectators. That is the emotional side, but also financially, too many games or a model with more games could be more stress for the players, the quality of the games then decreases.

"Ticket prices become too expensive because of too many games. But people don't want to pay for it anymore because it's no fun to watch anymore.

"The entire system could suffer from this, so you would have to think carefully. But I am always open to new ideas, expressing my opinion, even though it will not have much influence on what will actually happen."

Bayern have won nine consecutive Bundesliga titles and lead the way again this season, holding a six-point lead over second-placed Borussia Dortmund going into this weekend's programme.

This is Nagelsmann's first season in charge of the Bavarians.

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann remains unsure on the progress of Manuel Neuer's contract negotiations but heaped praise on the "outstanding" goalkeeper.

Neuer has made 300 appearances in the Bundesliga for Bayern since moving from Schalke and holds the record for the most clean sheets in the German top flight (209), having surpassed Oliver Kahn (196) in 2021.

But the Germany international's current contract in Munich expires at the end of the next season, when he will be aged 37, leading to questions over his future.

While Nagelsmann was unable to provide an update on the situation, he insisted that the 35-year-old can continue performing for many years to come.

"I don't know [about negotiations] but I know that he still has a contract and is an outstanding goalkeeper," he told reporters at Friday's pre-match news conference ahead of a trip to Hertha Berlin on Sunday.

"You could see right away that he played an outstanding game against Cologne. He will keep this quality for a few more years."

Asked about the competition, or lack of, between Neuer and Alexander Nubel, the Bayern head coach responded: "As long as he's playing at this level, it's difficult for any player to get past him. 

"Manuel is still the best goalkeeper because he plays every part of the goalkeeping game very consistently.

"I can't imagine it stopping abruptly at 36. We can analyse the situation when the time comes. Both are currently playing and are satisfied."

 

The reigning Bundesliga champions head to Berlin six points clear of Borussia Dortmund at the top after a Robert Lewandowski hat-trick inspired them to a 4-0 win over Cologne.

Hertha have won just one of their last 21 league meetings with the Bavarian side, while Nagelsmann has not lost any of his 12 top-flight clashes with them as a coach.

Only Christoph Daum, against Bochum, has faced an opponent more often (20) without losing a single time but Nagelsmann downplayed the importance of his record against Sunday's opponents.

"It's more of a coincidence," he added on his success against Hertha. "We didn't always play exceptionally well in Berlin. If you have a positive record, you should make sure that it's like that remains.

"They play significantly more football than before, more flat balls, but still a lot of chip balls to [Ishak] Belfodil, who is one of the most under-rated strikers in the league.

"He works well with his body, it's incredibly difficult to defend. 

"With [Marco] Richter and [Suat] Serdar, there are good footballers on the outside. It's more the footballing, courageous approach that [Tayfun] Korkut also demands. 

"The rest of the defence will be very important for us. In the end, you saw against Wolfsburg that there are a lot of spaces you can attack from, but they also defend much more actively and aggressively."

Despite Bayern's recent dominance, Nagelsmann insisted there is still potential for much improvement, though he feels their progress in Europe could depend on coronavirus.

"I'm satisfied, but we still have a lot of potential," he added. "The processes haven't worked consistently for several weeks. Me and the players take a critical look. 

"It's the case that the coronavirus issue is the season will affect how the teams get through. 

"There are no longer the extreme quarantine rules. Corona is a thing that you cannot influence very well. If you want to go far in the Champions League, you also have to be a little lucky with Corona quarantines."

Manuel Neuer described Robert Lewandowski as a "machine" after the striker reached 300 Bundesliga goals with a hat-trick in Bayern Munich's 4-0 win over Cologne.

The Poland star broke the deadlock on Saturday as Bayern became the first team in the history of the competition to score in 66 consecutive matches.

After Corentin Tolisso struck a fine second, Lewandowski delivered two more precise finishes following Leroy Sane throughballs to move the leaders six points clear.

The 33-year-old is just the second player in Bundesliga history to reach a treble century of goals, after Gerd Muller, who scored a record 365.

Last season, Lewandowski scored 42 times to break Muller's record for goals in a single Bundesliga season, and he could now have the outright leading tally in his sights.

"After the defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach, it was just important for us to get our first points of the year, and that's what we did," Neuer told Sky Sport.

"We're happy and grateful that we have Robert. He's a machine up front."

 

There was a curious moment after the match, when Neuer exchanged his shirt for the flat cap of Cologne head coach Steffen Baumgart.

"His cap is legendary!" he said.

The game was Bayern's first since it was confirmed that full-back Alphonso Davies will have to sit out training after being diagnosed with inflammation of the heart.

Coach Julian Nagelsmann said the Canada international will be out of action for at least the next month.

"It could be that it goes away quickly, but it's at least four weeks – and everything is possible for an indefinite amount of time," he said prior to the match.

"If you suffer from something like this, you usually don't notice it. You only notice that you're not 100 per cent when you move.

"[It is important] that we do the examinations meticulously, and that's how we diagnosed it. It's important for him to heal, but it's a shape because Alphonso had just come back."

Bayern Munich defender Alphonso Davies is unable to take part in training due to a mild inflammation of the heart.

The 21-year-old has not featured for Bayern since December 17 after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month.

Davies had been due to return to action for the German champions this week, but routine medical checks discovered another medical issue.

Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann confirmed at a news conference previewing Saturday's trip to Cologne that the Canada international will be out of action indefinitely.

"When we did our follow-up examination we do with every player that has had COVID-19, we detected signs of mild myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle," he said.

"He'll sit out training until further notice. He won't be available, also in the coming weeks. 

"The ultrasound shows this myocarditis isn't so dramatic, but it's a sign of myocarditis. Still, it has to heal and that will definitely take some time."

Davies has started 22 of Bayern's 27 matches this season – only Manuel Neuer (25), Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski (both 26) have started more regularly.

He has made 16 appearances in the Bundesliga this term and leads the way in the division for dribbles attempted (97) and completed (61).

Davies' lay-off is also bad news for Canada as they have two crucial World Cup qualifiers at the end of this month.

While the left-back will sit out Bayern's clash with Cologne, Bayern will welcome back six others from last week's shock 2-1 home loss to Borussia Monchengladbach.

But Nagelsmann will not take any risks when it comes to the fitness of Manuel Neuer, Dayot Upamecano, Omar Richards, Leroy Sane, Corentin Tolisso and Tanguy Nianzou 

"None of them are 100 per cent fit," he said. "Some of them had coronavirus symptoms. They're back in the squad, but none except Manu are ready to start or play for long.

Asked about Tolisso's availability, Nagelsmann said: "He had no symptoms and has come back the fittest. We have to see, but he'll be involved."

Leon Goretzka, Kingsley Coman and Lucas Hernandez will miss out this weekend, while Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Bouna Sarr are on Africa Cup of Nations duties.

Bayern have won each of their last eight Bundesliga games against Cologne and are unbeaten against them in their last 15 league games (W14 D1).

Steffen Baumgart's sixth-placed side have won their last three league games, however, which is as many as they managed in the previous 14 combined.

Julian Nagelsmann was pleased with his team's efforts despite Bayern Munich losing 2-1 at home to Borussia Monchengladbach in the first Bundesliga game after the winter break.

A superb opener from Robert Lewandowski - who was nominated for the Best FIFA Men's Player 2021 award earlier on Friday - was cancelled out before half-time by Foals duo Florian Neuhaus and Stefan Lainer, with the league leaders unable to respond in the second half.

Bayern were without a number of key players through COVID-19 and injuries, including Manuel Neuer, Lucas Hernandez, Dayot Upamecano, Leon Goretzka, Alphonso Davies, Kingsley Coman and Leroy Sane, but Nagelsmann still believed his team deserved something from the game.

Speaking after the defeat, the 34-year-old told reporters: "We were actually closer to winning than Gladbach were.

"Considering the situation, we did very well in the first 25 minutes, we should have been up by more. The way we conceded the equaliser was complete madness, I don't know why we wanted to do that in the box like that, and then we conceded from another set-piece.

"In the second half we played decently and had lots of chances. Unlike in the cup game, we didn't deserve to lose today."

Although Nagelsmann was still able to name a relatively strong starting line-up, Bayern's bench was practically unrecognisable, filled with youngsters, including the debuting Paul Wanner.

Aged 16 years and 15 days, Wanner's 75th-minute introduction saw him become the second-youngest player in Bundesliga history, behind only Borussia Dortmund's Youssoufa Moukoko (16 years, 1 day), and Nagelsmann was effusive in his praise of the teenager.

"He's an unbelievable talent, very quick and very brave," the former Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig coach said. "He immediately took on [Breel] Embolo and went on dribbling in his first action. Physically he's not bad either. But he has to remain grounded and clear in his head, then the doors will be open for him."

Bayern were thrashed 5-0 by Gladbach in the DFB-Pokal earlier in the season, and Nagelsmann had expressed a desire for revenge ahead of the game, but instead Adi Hutter only increased his impressive record against the young German coach.

Hutter and Nagelsmann have now met eight times as opposition coaches in the Bundesliga, and nobody has won as often in the top flight against Nagelsmann as the Gladbach boss (W4 D3 L1).

The former Eintracht Frankfurt coach praised the intensity of his team, saying after the win: "Huge compliments to the team for coming back like that and getting the win in Munich. When the intensity is high, you have a good chance of winning, and that's what we showed today.

"Of course Bayern could have equalised, but my team played well. They implemented what we trained."

Bayern Munich midfielder Leon Goretzka may require surgery to rectify the troublesome knee injury that has kept him out of action for over a month, according to Die Roten coach Julian Nagelsmann.

The Germany international, who has two goals and two assists in 12 Bundesliga appearances this term, has not taken to the pitch since Bayern’s 3-2 win over rivals Borussia Dortmund on 4th December, in which he managed just over an hour after struggling with a previous knock. 

Speaking ahead of the champions' home match against Borussia Monchengladbach, revealed that a decision on whether he requires surgery is due in the next couple of days.

"It's complicated." Nagelsmann said of the situation. "He [Goretzka] had two good days of training, then we had to decrease the strain [on him]. His physical condition was a lot worse.

"We examined him again and we did an MRI scan, but we couldn't detect anything.

"So, we sent him to another specialist, who will examine him again and decide what we're going to do; whether we can keep treating it conservatively, or if we have to open it up and have a look.

"In the next two days we'll decide what we need to do."

Any long-term absence for the former Schalke midfielder, who has won three Bundesliga titles and one Champions League since arriving at the Allianz Arena in 2018, would be a severe blow to the hopes of Nagelsmann's side, whose preparations for their return to Bundesliga action have been hampered by a number of players contracting COVID-19. 

The former Hoffenheim coach did not hide his frustration at Goretzka's situation.

"What is clear is that we can't keep going this way. The situation is bad for him, and bad for the club.

"Of course, we all want him to play, and he wants to play, but that's not possible. We have to think about a couple of new paths that we could go down."

Bayern have won their past five Bundesliga matches to open up a nine-point lead at the summit, but will still be keen for the return of their midfield mainstay, who was named in the Bundesliga team of the season last campaign.

Julian Nagelsmann does not regret giving Bayern Munich's players freedom to enjoy their vacation during the Bundesliga's mid-season break.

German top-flight leaders Bayern are set to face Borussia Monchengladbach on Friday, but currently have nine players who have returned positive COVID-19 test results.

Manuel Neuer, Lucas Hernandez, Dayot Upamecano, Tanguy Nianzou, Omar Richards, Corentin Tolisso, Kingsley Coman, Leroy Sane and Alphonso Davies have all tested positive for the virus.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Bouna Sarr are with Cameroon and Senegal respectively for the Africa Cup of Nations. Niklas Sule is nursing a back problem, while Leon Goretzka and Josip Stanisic are injured.

Gladbach's sporting director Max Eberl confirmed on Wednesday that Bayern had asked for the game to be postponed. Bundesliga rules allow a team to request a postponement if they have fewer than 16 players, including a goalkeeper, available.

But Nagelsmann, who contracted the virus in 2021, does not believe he should have limited the movements of his players during the recent hiatus in an attempt to curtail the possibility of an outbreak.

"I have a clear opinion about this topic. I'm not a teacher, I'm a coach," Nagelsmann told a news conference.

"Our players are all adults. My players are responsible for their own lives. We have the same rules and recommendations that we've had the last two years.

"You want to remain healthy. There's no option to suggest to a player that he can't go on holiday, if the law doesn't prevent that. There's psychological recovery. If you look at Upamecano, he flew to Senegal to see his family. If I don't let him do that then I can't let another player go 10 miles down the road to see his family.

"Every employee was allowed to go on holiday. You can't tell a player not to go, to stay home. With Omar Richards, once we found out that England was a high-risk area we got him back from England. 

"I don't know why we have more infected players than others. It's unfortunate, but the players have the same rules that have worked very well. There are other clubs that don't do PCR tests, they do fast tests that aren't as sensitive. So there's a couple of elements, we have to make the best of the situation.

"I was very happy with the players, the U23s and U19s players that joined us. I am not the type of coach to complain. We can discuss if these rules make sense. I went out for a meal and was infected. I rarely go out. I went out once and got coronavirus. It happens, I don't know exactly why."

Asked if the game would be going ahead at all, Nagelsmann said: "I can't answer that with 100 per cent accuracy. My job, and the job of the players, is to prepare as if it is going to take place.

"That's what we're operating on, that's what we're expecting. We've prepared all week for this game to take place. 

"It's a challenging situation, but as a coach it's an interesting challenge, you have to adapt, change your tactics to turn your problem into a strength."

One player who will return is Joshua Kimmich, who has not played since November after contracting coronavirus.

Kimmich's recovery was hampered by a lung issue but Nagelsmann confirmed the midfielder is fit to feature.

"Joshua is making a very good impression. He's very happy, his physical condition is outstanding," he said.

"If everyone was here he'd probably play, now it's clear he's going to play anyway because he has to. He deserves to play, we're all happy that he's back and he will play tomorrow."

Kimmich had initially declined the vaccine while he waited for more research on possible side effects, though confirmed in December that he had changed his mind and would take up the option.

Asked if Kimmich had received the vaccine, Nagelsmann said: "I can't say, I don't want to, that's a private matter. It's Joshua's responsibility to talk about that."

Julian Nagelsmann expressed his satisfaction with Bayern Munich as the Bavarians head into the mid-season Bundesliga break top of the table.

Bayern cruised to a 4-0 victory on Friday over Wolfsburg, with Thomas Muller – who was making his 400th league appearance for the reigning champions – scoring the first and assisting Dayot Upamecano's second.

Leroy Sane soon added a curling third before Robert Lewandowski sealed victory as the Poland striker netted his 43rd top-flight goal of 2021, surpassing Gerd Muller's long-standing calendar-year record for Bundesliga goals, set in 1972 (42).

Bayern boast a nine-point lead over second-placed Borussia Dortmund, who play their game in hand against Hertha Berlin on Saturday, and former RB Leipzig head coach Nagelsmann has been pleased with his side's efforts to date.

In the three points-for-a-win era, Bayern have won the title in 14 of the 15 seasons they have topped the league at the halfway point.

"I'm very satisfied with our first half of the season," Nagelsmann told reporters. "It's not simple to score this many goals against such a compact defence. 

"We had very good control and pressed even better in the second half. The key was counter-pressing: we won the ball high and closed all gaps.

"I'm very happy with the performance. We played a lot of games recently; the first half was more difficult. The initial phase was good, then we slowed down a bit. Then [Wout] Weghorst had a chance, we were lucky, or we had a good goalkeeper, maybe a mixture of both.

"The way we played in the second half was great. The goals were outstanding."

On Lewandowski's landmark strike, Nagelsmann added: "I was very happy that he scored. It was a wonderful goal – Lewy played a great game."

Nagelsmann also reserved praise for Upamecano, who made a staggering 103 passes in Wolfsburg's half – a game-leading figure – while also leading Bayern for tackles made (five) and possession won (14 times).

"He scored a goal, which is great," the Bayern head coach continued. "We know how important it is to have goalscoring defenders when the opponent sits very deep. 

"He was very focused today. Overall, he's having a good season, except for a couple of games. We shouldn't forget he's young, he isn't 28."

Thomas Muller starred on a milestone appearance and Robert Lewandowski broke a long-standing Gerd Muller record as Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich cruised to a 4-0 victory over Wolfsburg on Friday.

Muller marked his 400th top-flight outing for Bayern with the opening goal after seven minutes at the Allianz Arena, before the Germany international teed up Dayot Upamecano for a second after the interval.

Leroy Sane added a third for Julian Nagelsmann's side and Lewandowski was able to find a record 43rd league goal in 2021 to surpass Bayern legend's Gerd Muller's long-standing Bundesliga calendar-year scoring record as the hosts cruised to victory.
 
Leaders Bayern hold a nine-point advantage at the summit, with Dortmund – who play Hertha Berlin on Saturday – sat in second heading into the mid-season break.

Bayern were soon ahead when Muller poked home from close range after Koen Casteels had parried Serge Gnabry's strike, before Manuel Neuer thwarted Wout Weghorst at the other end.

Jamal Musiala almost doubled Bayern's lead but dragged wide, while Casteels denied Lewandowski's header from point-blank range.

Muller delicately chipped for Upamecano to head into the bottom-left corner after the interval, with Sane expertly curling in via the left post just two minutes later.

Lewandowski then had two opportunities to break Gerd Muller's benchmark, but wastefully prodded over with the first before an excellent Casteels save denied him from the second.

The Poland striker eventually managed his landmark finish when Musiala selflessly headed across goal for the Poland striker to volley in as Bayern eased to victory.


What does it mean? Bayern title favourites again heading into mid-season break

Bayern, who have not lost any of their last 25 home league matches against Wolfsburg, once again head into the mid-season break top of the Bundesliga – this time leading by at least six points, with Dortmund set to play their game in hand against Hertha Berlin on Saturday.

In the three points-per-win era, the Bavarians have won the title in 14 of the 15 seasons when they have been at the summit at the halfway point. By contrast, Wolfsburg have now lost seven consecutive competitive matches.

Gnabry the Great

Muller and Lewandowski seemingly steal the plaudits most weeks, but Gnabry's dominant performance should not go under the radar.

The Germany winger not only provided an assist but also laid on a team-leading three chances – along with full-back Alphonso Davies and Musiala – as he ensured a torrid game for Yannick Gerhardt at left wing-back.

Woeful Weghorst

Weghorst wasted a glorious opportunity to equalise immediately after Muller's opener and that set the tone for a frustrating performance from the striker.

The Netherlands international cut an isolated figure up top, winning just over a third of his 14 duels, while relinquishing possession a team-high 18 times.

What's next?

The Bundesliga now takes a break until 2022. Bayern return to action at home to Borussia Monchengladbach on January 7, while Wolfsburg visit Bochum two days later. 

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