Bundesliga: Bayern urged to 'wake up' as in-form Frankfurt looms

After a second-successive 1-1 draw on Tuesday, Bayern Munich sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said it was "high time we flicked the switch", warning "the title is at stake." A loss to visitor Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday would see the Eagles climb within two points of the 31-time Bundesliga title winners and blow the league wide open for the chasing pack.

While calling out forward Serge Gnabry for an "amateurish" midseason jaunt to Paris Fashion Week, Salihamidzic said Bayern needs to "wake up now". "We can prepare well for {Frankfurt} in the next few days, {we must} burn it into our heads how important the game is."

The shift in reckoning may seem dramatic considering that Bayern won 6-1 in Frankfurt in the season's opening game in August. It is however a credit to the Eagles' continued development under manager Oliver Glasner this season. Half a season later, Frankfurt has lost just once since early October in all competitions, sit third in the league and is in the Champions League knockout stage for the first time.

A sure sign that the reigning Europa League champion has Bayern worried came on Sunday's edition of German TV institution Doppelpass, when Frankfurt became the target of former Bayern coach Uli Hoeness' pre-match mind games. Hoeness praised Saturday's opponents, saying the club had "made the greatest progress of any club {in Germany} in the last 12 to 18 months" while adding Bayern had "thought about bringing back" star midfielder Mario Goetze, just before the 2014 World Cup winner signed with Frankfurt in 2022, but opted against it.

Goetze, plucked from rival Borussia Dortmund in 2013, had a largely unhappy three-year spell in the Bavarian capital. He returned to Dortmund in 2016, before moving to Dutch side PSV Eindhoven on a free transfer in 2020.

While it would be generous to say that Eintracht has the advantage over Bayern, it has won two of its past four games against the all-conquering Bavarians and was one of only two teams to win in Munich in the league last season. Frankfurt's 3-1 win in the 2018 German Cup final was only the fourth time that Bayern had lost in the Cup final, having won it on 20 occasions.

Frankfurt however missed a golden chance to close the gap with Bayern to three points on Wednesday, drawing 1-1 at Freiburg.

Coach Glasner warned his side "I don't believe it's going to get any easier in Munich. They play with brutal speed, and they are also very strong with headers."

One to watch: Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund)

Borussia Dortmund's American forward Gio Reyna endured a disappointing World Cup on a personal and professional level but has rebounded in the best possible way in 2023. Reyna has come off the bench to score the winner in both of his side's last two game, helping Dortmund narrow the gap to table-topping Bayern Munich from nine to five points.

Dortmund manager Edin Terzic said Reyna, who missed much of the last two seasons with a series of injuries, has had a "difficult time on a mental level" but welcomed his blistering start to the year. For his part, a patient Reyna said after his heroics on Wednesday "I want to start, that's clear" but explained "I don't think about it that much. My chance will come, if I keep working hard in training."

Friday: RB Leipzig vs Stuttgart
Saturday: Freiburg vs Augsburg, Mainz vs Bochum, Hoffenheim vs Borussia Moenchengladbach, Hertha Berlin vs Union Berlin, Werder Bremen vs Wolfsburg, Bayern Munich vs Eintracht Frankfurt
Sunday: Schalke vs Cologne, Bayer Leverkusen vs Borussia Dortmund


© Agence France-Presse

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