Four years ago, Robben scored one of the clubs most important goals in history, to beat rivals Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final. After the magical night at Wembley, Bayern became the seventh team to ever win a continental treble in UEFA history. Today, four years later, Bayern Munich were humiliated vs PSG, and sit second in the league, five points behind Borussia Dortmund. So what changed for Bayern Munich? When did the German giants start to show these signs of decline?

Age old question

When Spain entered the World Cup in 2010, they were seen as favorites to win it all, with players such as David Villa, Iniesta, Xavi, Puyol, and Casillas all in their prime.

They went on to beat Netherlands in overtime to become world champions. In 2014, they crashed out early in the group stages, suffering a humiliating 5-1 loss to the same Netherlands they beat four years earlier. Due to their victory in 2010, Spain saw no reason to change much of their strategy. In the 2014 game, Spain started the same formation and had nine (7 starting + two on the bench) of the same players who started the final. Netherlands, on the other hand, changed completely, switching their formation from a 4-2-3-1, to a 3-4-3, while starting only four players of the 2010 final. Spain thought they shouldn’t change a system that worked so well for them in the past, but the players had aged. Casillas, Iniesta, Xavi, and Alonso were past their prime, while players like De Gea and Fabregas were left on the bench.

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Although it may seem, unrelated, Bayern Munich is going through something similar.

Bayern Munich lost to Real Madrid 6-3 on aggregate, crashing out in the quarterfinals of the 2016/17 CL. Of the starting XI, eight played the final in 2013 (six on Bayern Munich, two on Borussia Dortmund), and one was benched (Muller). Just like Spain, Bayern Munich had developed a system that depends on players past their prime. Robben and Ribery are 33 and 34, and can’t be dependable in big games. Ancelotti did try to bring change, benching both players vs PSG, but it was too late. Because Bayern failed to notice these players were past their prime, they had no good substitutes to fill in their shoes while they were gone. Luckily, Bayern is working towards a future solution. Out of the six players bought this summer, four are under 22 (Tolisso, Coman, Sule, and Gnabry). Although full of young potential, Bayern still need time to rebuild the team around a newer generation of players.

Manager woes

It’s been a tough time for Bayern Munich and managers.

After winning the treble, Bayern kicked out then coach Jupp Heynckes for Pep Guardiola, coming from managing one of the best teams of all time (2009-10 Barcelona). There were high expectations for Guardiola, and although he failed to win the Champions League the three years he was there, he set several records with Bayern in the Bundesliga. In his first season, Guardiola won the league in record time, crowned as champions in March (past record was April 6). In the three years he managed, Guardiola won the league all three times, the domestic cup twice, the European Supercup, and made the Champions League semi-final all three times. Once he made the decision to leave, Bayern chose Ancelotti as a successor. Fans were excited, as Ancelotti had just won the Champions League with Real Madrid. Bayern Munich didn’t care about whether or not his style of play fits with Bayern’s, or if he got along with the players, as it was a power signing; a world class manager for a world-class team. His system wasn’t compatible, and Ancelotti was often criticized. Robben has even said that ‘There’s better training at my son’s youth team [than under Ancelotti].’ According to metro, players such as Xabi Alonso and Philipp Lahm complained about Ancelotti’s training method’s last season, showing tension between the manager and the players. So, now that Ancelotti has been fired, Bayern have a chance to focus on a manager that can help the team, not someone who is hired due to name recognition.

Possible replacements

As a permanent solution, Hoffenheim’s manager Julian Nagelsmann is considered a possible replacement, according to Ed Maylon.

Julian Nagelsmann was appointed as the Bundesliga’s youngest ever manager, at 28-years-old. Nagelsmann saved them from relegation in the 2015-16 season, and later on did an amazing turnaround with Hoffenheim, finishing 4th a year later, and qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history. Thomas Tuchel is another very likely candidate, as Chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has previously shown affection and respect for the German manager. Tuchel was with Borussia Dortmund for only a year, winning the German cup, and promptly leaving three days later. He has recently rejected advances from West Ham, which could indicate a move to Bayern Munich. Yes, there is a lot wrong with Bayern Munich today, but it is easier to fix than it seems. With a good manager that can help focus on a new system for Bayern Munich to thrive under, they can improve morale and be back to being one of the most feared teams in Europe.