Bayern Munich ready to continue title - possible treble - chase
BERLIN - Bayern Munich have used Bundesliga suspension to renew the contracts of coach Hansi Flick, Thomas Mueller and Alphonso Davies, and now turn their attention back to the pitch as they continue their bid for a another Bundesliga title or even a treble.
The coronavirus-related break over two months also allowed them to have start striker Robert Lewandowski fit again.
Bayern led Borussia Dortmund by four points when play was suspended in mid-March and with seven wins and a draw after the winter break were well on course towards a record-extending eighth straight league crown.
Had they achieved that under normal circumstances they would have received the trophy - and had the trademark beer showers - on Saturday which would have been the last matchday.
Instead, they must now prove their worth and like everyone else cope with the unusual scenario of games behind closed doors in the final nine rounds before possibly really lifting the trophy on June 27.
The circumstances may have changed but not so the ambition at the club which is also still in the German cup and Champions League.
"We play without spectators. If we play, we want to play successfully, we owe it to the fans at home. Our job is to play beautiful, attractive football, but at the same time to be successful," Flick told a news conference Friday.
"It's nine matchdays, a power season, a small tournament. Everyone has the same conditions. Everything starts from scratch and we hope that in the end we will have more points than our opponents."
Bayern have made a remarkable turnaround since Flick took the reigns in November, which earned the former Bayern defender and Germany assistant coach a three-year contract renewal until 2023 as Bayern bosses are immensely satisfied with his work.
Bayern veteran Mueller also renewed until 2023 and the sensational young left-back Davies even until 2025. Thiago Alcantara, David Alaba and captain Manuel Neuer are also tipped to stay beyond 2021.
With 25-time scorer Lewandowski back from a shin-bone fracture that would have made him miss the Union and Eintracht Frankfurt games, possibly even the date with Dortmund now set for May 26, and Kingsley Coman also fit again, Flick has plenty to chose from.
"I am very satisfied with the state of the team," he said, while also urging that it will take a big effort to win in Berlin and also elsewhere.
"It's about showing our quality in every game. Everyone prefers to play in front of spectators. But it is the same for everyone. I think we are quite well prepared ... I hope we can get used to the conditions very quickly and show our quality."
Alaba has said that everyone in the team is "very hungry" ahead of the restart, and Mueller said the team is "greedy for regular competition." Neuer said that "of course we are happy that we can play but we would prefer different circumstances."
Flick has welcomed the temporary rule to make five substitutions per game and has said that the team is very conscientious in observing all the social distancing and quarantine measures - he himself appearing for the video link news conference with a red face mask.
He knows they are role models, and that the whole world will be watching the Bundesliga from Saturday onwards, not just for the football.
"The whole world is watching Germany, how we do it. This can send a signal to all leagues. Then sport in general can perhaps be resumed," he said.dpa