Sun, 24 Jan 2021

By Oliver Trust

BERLIN, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- Ahead of Bayern Munich's Champions League group encounter against Atletico Madrid, Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer's name seems to be on everyone's lips.

Hardly a day goes by without the German international being praised for his brilliant performances in the Champions League and the Bundesliga. But the admiration for Manuel Neuer is far from good news for the Bavarians' coach Hansi Flick.

The German international's brilliant performances indicate far more that the Bavarians have serious issues in defense and in their game strategy.

13 goals conceded in the national league might tell the story aside from the growing number of stunning saves the 34-year-old has had to make.

Therefore, Flick is ringing the alarm bells and complaining about the growing number of ball losses and sloppiness.

"If we keep on losing that many balls, well-organized teams have the opportunity to hurt us," the 56-year-old said after his side's laborious 3-1 victory against newly-promoted VfB Stuttgart.

His team's difficulties are far from being new for the coach as they have plagued the 2020 treble winner for several weeks.

The recent league games and the Champions League duties seem to be exhausting the team.

While Bayern ruled European football last season with a well-oiled dynamism, the side, for various reasons, seems to have lost its "big easy".

Contract negotiations might be playing a role as is the increasing fatigue caused by a tight schedule.

With David Alaba, Jerome Boateng, and Niklas Suele facing an uncertain future in Munich, instability seems to have taken hold of the entire team.

The injury of key figure Joshua Kimmich has turned out to be a more significant burden than expected.

Now the injuries of Boateng, Corentin Tolisso, and Javi Martinez are increasing the coach's concerns as Lukas Hernandez is struggling to get into shape, and fullback Alphonso Davies is out for several weeks.

The possible loss of Kimmich's replacement Tolisso for the Atletico game is something to think about for the Bayern coach.

"We need to regain control over our game," Flick demanded.

Tuesday's opponent's style is reason to be concerned despite the Bavarians having already qualified for the knock-out stages of the Champions League.

Atletico seems well prepared to harm Bayern as Diego Simeone's side stands for a reliable defense and a reliance on counter-attacks. Having only conceded two goals in the Spanish league, they are obviously defensively very strong.

A statement made by Leon Goretzka seems to indicate the tiredness of a team trying to repeat last season's successes.

"I don't know if I am allowed to say this, but one can feel exhausted considering the flood of games we have to go through," the midfielder commented.

Flick might answer his struggling team's imbalance by changing his line-up and picking second or third-choice players as the vital league encounter against second-placed RB Leipzig awaits them next Saturday.

Flick claims to be aware that his team is near its limits, "but it seems we have to get through that as things are the same for all clubs involved in international competition." The Bayern coach spoke about a packed timetable and said he is convinced that the teams that accept the unavoidable circumstances, might be this season's winners.

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