3 reasons why Bayern Munich is struggling at the moment
Bayern Munich is one of the biggest teams in the world, and by far the biggest in German football history. The Bavarians are record German Bundesliga champions with 26 top flight crowns won, and have their five European Cup/Champions League triumphs.
Bayern have won the Bundesliga in each of the last six seasons, and their dominance over the rest of Germany is such that they usually win the Bundesliga title by a canter and with a record number of points gap to second.
This season, Bayern began their campaign with the intention of retaining their German crown, as well as mounting a genuine assault on Europe. However, three months into the season, things have not panned out to plan.
The club finds itself in sixth place, five points off pacesetters Borussia Dortmund, having lost consecutive matches in the Bundesliga to Hertha Berlin and Borussia Monchengladbach.
In Europe, things have also been rocky for Die Rotten. They began their campaign with a hard-fought 2-0 win away to Benfica, before shockingly drawing with Ajax at the Allianz Arena having gone into an early lead.
Bayern find their domestic dominance threatened for the first time in a long time, while their European conquest is a long way from being certain. The club is being tested in a way like no other in recent years, and they would seek to bounce back from their melee as soon as possible.
However, to do that, they would have to know what the root cause of their struggles is. Here are three reasons why Bayern is struggling at the moment.
#3 The crux of the squad has become stagnant
The German U20 team in 2009 achieved greatness by winning the European U21 Championship, then stepping up to the plate and being the backbone of the youthful German side that went all the way to the semi-final of the 2010 World Cup.
That team had youngsters such as Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos, who were also an integral part of the Bayern set-up. Bayern had a perfect blend of youth with the likes of Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng among others, combined with experienced players like Philip Lahm, Arjen Robben and Frank Ribery.
It was at this period that Bayern's recent dominance began, culminating in their glorious year of 2013 when they became the first German side in history to win a treble of Bundesliga, Cup and Champions League trophies.
Since then, other than a few additions such a Robert Lewandowski or departures such as Philip Lahm's retirement, the core of the team has remained largely unchanged.
Neuer, Alaba, Boateng, Muller are all still integral members of the team, and more worryingly, so are Frank Ribery and Ribery, who for all of their wing wizardry, are on the very wrong side of 30.
Ribery is 35 years, while Robben is 34, and for such players to still be the pillars on whom a club's attacking strength is built is rather worrisome. Thomas Muller has shown a dip in form in recent seasons, as he struggles to match his heights of previous years, but he still continues to play a starring role in the team.
The law of diminishing returns applies in all aspects of life, including football, and for how much success this group of players have given the club, there is nowhere else for them to go but down.