This has to be it, right?
Knee-jerk reactions and embellishment are endemic to sports, but Bayern Munich’s 3-3 draw at home against Fortuna Dusseldorf must surely be a marker of some sort.
Bayern, which has won a record six straight Bundesliga titles, blew a two-goal lead at the previously impenetrable Allianz Arena against a side that sits 17th out of 18 teams in the table. Now, the Bavarians are nine points back of their rivals Borussia Dortmund through 12 league matches, which is hardly a full season but is also over a third of the campaign.
So it begs the speculation: Bayern, genuinely, might not win the league again this season.
It’s not a matter of time. Five and a half months is more than enough time to make up that deficit. It’s more the listlessness, the malaise that’s taken up residence both in the club and in the gameday setups.
It’s conceding goals like this in stoppage time to flush three points down the toilet:
Dodi Lukebakio finished off his hat trick in grand fashion to rescue an unlikely result for Fortuna Dusseldorf, and the 21-year-old Belgian striker eclipsed his goal total for the entire season (he had scored twice before Saturday) in one sterling afternoon.
But Bayern was complicit. After taking a 2-0 lead in the first half, the reigning champions fell asleep as Lukebakio converted his first goal:
It’s somewhat maddening to watch. Yes, Bayern’s stars are close to aging out, and yes, reinforcements are needed. That doesn’t excuse a record of two wins now from eight matches in the domestic campaign, including a home shellacking at the hands of Borussia Monchengladbach and a Der Klassiker loss to Dortmund two weeks ago.
Because at its best, Bayern is still capable of moments of beauty. Like this pass from Jerome Boateng to set up Thomas Muller, who doubled a lead given to the hosts by Niklas Sule:
And this backheel from Robert Lewandowski to set up Muller again:
Bayern also characteristically dominated possession and outshot the visitors 17-9, though both had the same amount of shots on target.
That doesn’t change the fact Bayern currently sits outside the Champions League spots in fifth. While missing out on Europe’s top competition is a pie-in-the-sky dream for Bayern enemies, the fact remains there’s a very real fight on the Bavarians’ hands to repeat, with Dortmund having yet to lose and Gladbach, Eintracht Frankfurt and cash-rich RB Leipzig mounting ascents up the table themselves.
All bets are off. And the game, as they say, is on.
Joey Gulino is the editor of FC Yahoo and moonlights as a writer. Follow him on Twitter at @JGulinoYahoo.
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