Bayern Munich return to the relative calm of the Bundesliga, after a torrid few days since being eliminated from the Champions League.
Bayern are out of Europe for this season, as they cannot even finish in third place in their Champions League group and therefore as well as the ignominy of being eliminated from the elite competition, they cannot even qualify for the UEFA Cup.
Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld called the team “shameful” after the midweek defeat to Deportivo La Coruna and admitted they simply were not good enough.
“We played with a certain amount of pride against Deportivo at Olympicstadion, but to only have one point from five games is shameful,” he said.
“The disappointment is naturally enormous,” he revealed. “It causes enormous damage to the club and it will be necessary to reflect on the performance of some players.’
It is also thought that the financial repercussions of their failure to qualify could mean the Bundesliga leaders may have to offload some of their stars, after chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge spelt out the implications of Munich’s “black day”.
“What we have experienced is not just disappointing, it’s scandalous, it’s a disgrace for Bayern Munich,” fumed Rumenigge. “This is doubly painful. Alongside the damage to our image, it blows a cavernous hole in our finances which we will have to close off,” he revealed. He also attacked the professionalism and work ethic of the side, and claimed Bayern had no one else to blame but themselves.
“There has been plenty of talk about fate, ill-fortune and bad luck in the last few weeks. But if we’re honest we have to say we’ve failed to make our own luck,” he said.
“Words such as discipline, off the field as well as on it, fight, passion need to become our focus again.”
Despite all this self-loathing, it’s not all doom and gloom at the club: Bayern still lead the Bundesliga by three points. However, they would probably have preferred a straightforward home fixture this weekend rather than face a tough game at fourth placed Werder Bremen.
Left with only the domestic glory to fight for, battling midfielder Jens Jeremies issued a war cry to his team-mates ahead of the game with Werder.
“It’s time for the real men to stand up and be counted, starting with Bremen,” Jeremies demanded. “We’ll see who can handle the pressure, who keeps his nerve and delivers on Sunday. The 11 we send out on Sunday will want to win, will have to win, will win. We want the championship, so we need the three points.’
Bremen have also been in the line of critical fire from directors this week, after they slumped to a 2-1defeat to Vitesse Arnhem in the UEFA Cup.
Sporting Director Klaus Allofs questioned his side’s commitment after the loss, saying: “We saw exactly the same thing that has been missing in the last three games – there is simply not enough passion in our play at the moment.”
“This was not the case earlier in the season and we’ve got to get back to where we were,” Allofs added.
He was also sceptical of his players’ will to fight for the club, after a number of them were linked with moves away from the Weserstadion.
“There have been a lot of recent press reports that some of our players have been talking to other clubs or are high on their wanted lists,” he revealed.
“The way a player comes to terms with these sort of headlines is a sign of his class. If you are wanted by other clubs, then you have to go out on the park and show how good you are.”
Elsewhere, in form Dortmund entertain Hamburg looking to close the gap on Bayern, and third place 1860 Munich are also at home, to Arminia Bielefeld.
Bayer Leverkusen v Stuttgart
Energie Cottbus v Schalke FC
Hannover v Wolfsburg
Werder Bremen v Bayern Munich