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regular-article-logo Monday, 15 April 2024

Champions League: Axe hovers on Thomas Tuchel as Lazio loom over Bayern Munich

Already knocked out of the German Cup and 10 points behind unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga, Bayern’s best hope of a trophy this season hinges on getting past Lazio to reach the Champions League quarter finals

Our Bureau, Reuters Berlin Published 05.03.24, 10:24 AM
Bayern Munich manager Thomas Tuchel watches as Harry Kane catches a ball during a  training session in Munich on Monday.

Bayern Munich manager Thomas Tuchel watches as Harry Kane catches a ball during a training session in Munich on Monday. Getty Images

A whole season is on the line for Bayern Munich against Lazio in the Champions League on Tuesday.

It is likely to be Thomas Tuchel’s last game as Bayern coach unless his team can overturn a one-goal deficit after losing the first leg of the last-16 tie 1-0 in Rome on February 14.

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That was the second game in a three-game run of defeats that ultimately led Bayern to announce Tuchel will leave at the end of the season.

Already knocked out of the German Cup and 10 points behind unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga, Bayern’s best hope of a trophy this season hinges on getting past Lazio to reach the Champions League quarter finals.

If Bayern fail to make it, the club’s powerbrokers will see little reason to stick with Tuchel for the last 10 games of the season when keeping him in charge would arguably do more harm than good.

Tuchel’s frequent criticism of the players has sowed discontent in the team. New sporting director Max Eberl will want to finish the campaign as well as possible before a summer shakeup and next season’s bid to regain domestic dominance.

Few believe that Leverkusen — a team that has strung together a German record 34-game unbeaten run across all competitions — will collapse in the last 10 rounds of the Bundesliga. Xabi Alonso’s side has shown a mental strength and confidence that is lacking in the Bayern team.

Tuchel said Friday he had no explanation for Bayern’s poor start in their 2-2 draw at Freiburg on Friday — a result that allowed Leverkusen to increase their lead.

“I saw the effort in the first half, but it was really undisciplined in the positions. It was partly harakari. I think we had periods where our centre back went behind the full-back. We did things that we had never trained before, that we never talked about,” Tuchel said immediately after the game.

Tuchel though, on Monday, did not look flustered. “Worries? Not from my side. I can’t speak for others. I can say that no one has more ambition to win tomorrow’s game than me,” Tuchel said at the news conference.

“The situation is clear for tomorrow (Tuesday). We have to win by two goals against an Italian team. Pressure is also part of performing at the top level. Pressure is needed to perform extraordinary things. The state of play is clear. We need to win, and do so against a well-organised (Maurizio) Sarri team. We hope the fans will push us so we can achieve our goal of winning by two goals,” he added.

“Tomorrow every minute will count. Patience yes, if it is about not getting frustrated if things take a bit longer. Patience no, if it is only about generating possession. We have no time to waste,” he said.

Lazio are also under pressure, losing three of their four Serie A matches since beating Bayern.

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