Though hardly to blame, Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has conceded seven goals in his last two games.
While Bayern’s forwards are setting Bundesliga records, the team’s defense is offering rivals a route to success that few had attempted before. Most opponents concentrate first on their own defense in what is usually a futile attempt to restrain Bayern’s fearsome attacking lineup.
But Borussia Mönchengladbach showed that attack is the best form of defense when it routed Bayern 5-0 in the German Cup last Wednesday – the Bavarian powerhouse’s biggest loss since 1978 – and Union Berlin showed again Saturday that Bayern’s defense can be fallible as it scored two goals before ultimately losing 5-2.
Union’s performance was indicative as it fell behind 3-0 after a hesitant start, then finally began playing after pulling a goal back. Bayern eventually won, but the late goals came against the run of play with Union pegging the visitors back.
Neuer was busy in both games helping his beleaguered defenders. Dayot Upamecano was overwhelmed in Gladbach.
“With the exception of Neuer, it was a catastrophic performance from us,” Bayern forward Thomas Müller said after the loss in Gladbach. “I haven’t experienced anything like that before.”
On Saturday, Müller was happier after his team scored five goals of its own.
“We found the right answers with the goals,” Müller said.
Bayern’s forwards have now scored 38 goals in 10 league games, a record at this stage in the Bundesliga. Robert Lewandowski scored two Saturday to take his league tally to 12 goals.
Lewandowski, who broke Gerd Müller’s league record by scoring 41 goals last season, already has 17 in 14 games in all competitions, including five in the Champions League. Bayern’s defense has yet to concede in that competition in games against Barcelona (3-0), Dynamo Kyiv (5-0) and Benfica (4-0).
Bayern vs Benfica
Bayern can advance to the next round on Tuesday with another win over Benfica in Munich.
Bayern is waiting on the fitness of defender Lucas Hernández, who went off early Saturday after getting a knock below his knee.
“We hope he can be there Tuesday,” said assistant coach Dino Toppmöller, who has been filling in on the sideline for the coronavirus-infected Julian Nagelsmann.
Freiburg then visits in the Bundesliga on Saturday. Freiburg is in third place after conceding only seven goals so far – as many as Neuer in his last two games.