Comments made by striker Robert Lewandowski in a recent interview have not gone down well with management at Bayern Munich. The team is hoping that its first Champions League match of the season will help ease tensions.
All is not well on Munich's Säbener Street, where Bayern's headquarters is located. While Bayern Munich have been world renowned for the club's stability over the years, the beginning of the 2017-18 season has been anything but.
On Saturday, Bayern Munich suffered their first defeat of the season to Julian Nagelsmann's high-flying Hoffenheim, but the result on the pitch hardly tells the whole story. Listening to what some of the players have been saying, helps paint a more complete picture of the current mood on Säbener Street - and both Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller have put the patience of Bayern's management to the test.
In an interview published in Saturday's edition of German newsmagazine Spiegel the Polish striker said he thought Bayern should have been more active in the summer transfer window, while at the same time expressing skepticism about the value of the club's preseason tour in Asia.
Thomas Müller, on the other hand, first voiced his displeasure after spending 70 minutes on the bench during Bayern's 2-0 win over Bremen on Matchday 2.
"I don't know which qualities the coach wants his players to have, I just know that mine aren't on the list," the Germany forward said.
Rummenigge and Hoeness react
Not surprisingly, management haven't taken either comment lying down. In an interview published in the mass-circulation daily BILD on Monday, the chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, said he "regrets" Lewandowski's statement, and noted that the Polish striker's "supposed dream club," Real Madrid, had spent twice as long on the road for their preseason tour as Bayern did.
With respect to Müller's statement in Bremen last month, the Bayern CEO said that the striker's comments were "also not okay." Rummenigge ended the interview by saying that whoever criticized the coach, the club or any of the Bayern players would have "a problem with me personally."
However, later on Monday, the president, Uli Hoeness, sought to calm the waters, telling a press conference (that was actually called to discuss Bayern's basketball team) that Lewandowski's quotes were "not at all bad," and that Rummenigge's criticism of the goal machine was actually aimed not so much at the player but at his agent. At the same time, Hoeness couldn't resist getting in a dig at Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund.
"One thing is clear: We cannot have a situation like in Dortmund, where a player discusses leaving the club every six months," he said. He added that Müller would only continue to get playing time at Bayern "if he plays well."
Comfortable opposition at an uncomfortable time
The best remedy for such internal tensions could be just around the corner, as Bayern head into their Champions League season opener against Belgian champions Anderlecht on Tuesday (20:45 CET). A clear victory at the Allianz Arena could go some way to easing tensions, and there is every reason to think that this is a good bet.
Belgian football's most successful side have gotten off to a much worse start in their domestic season than Bayern have; Anderlecht find themselves in 10th spot in the Jupiler Pro League, having taken just eight points from their first six matches. And in terms of European play, Anderlecht haven't won a game on the road in the Champions League in almost 12 years.
Despite Bayern's apparent superiority, coach Ancelotti said there was no danger of his team taking Tuesday's opposition lightly.
"Anderlecht is a good team. They are well organized in their play and have a lot of offensive options," he told the prematch press conference. "We must approach (the match) with a good plan and concentrate on our game."
In terms of personnel , Ancelotti will have to do without Arturo Vidal, who will be unavailable due to a ban stemming from the second leg of last season's quarterfinal in Madrid. David Alaba and Juan Bernat are out due to injury and Franck Ribery is a doubtful starter.
On the positive side, though, Ancelotti said Germany central defender Jerome Boateng would be in the squad for the first time this season.