A nightmare has come true for Bayern Munich's head coach Pep Guardiola. DW's Ross Dunbar reckons the loss of the peerless David Alaba has put a dent in Bayern's treble ambitions.
It was the week that coaches braced themselves for the worst of news. International friendlies at such a crucial time of the season have always been a source of contention - and now the bone lies with Bayern Munich who are nursing another casualty at Säbener Strasse.
David Alaba has been ruled out for seven weeks with another knee injury, a torn medial collateral ligament in his left-knee this time, as a result of an innocuous collision with Bosnia's Avdija Vrsajevic.
That means the 22-year-old will miss almost all the crucial matches from now until the end of the season. What matters most to Bayern Munich is the Champions League, given the 10-point lead over Wolfsburg. Simply, an implosion would be required for Bayern to lose first-place in the Bundesliga - and even the injury to Alaba wouldn't be the catalyst for that.
It might not be an issue versus FC Porto in the next round of the Champions League, yet the absence of Alaba will likely severely weaken the options available for Guardiola should Bayern move into the last four. While Philipp Lahm can deputize and Thiago Alcantara has made tentative steps towards the first-team, neither are suitable to replacing what Alaba provides - perhaps only Frenchman Paul Pogba at Juventus is akin to the Austrian in the middle of the park.
Versatility aside, Alaba is an outstanding player in any one position and arguably is one of the most complete players in the game. When Bayern stumbled to defeat last Sunday, Alaba maintained his excellent form this season as an all-encompassing midfielder; the Austrian at times was the only player in red who seemed eager to move the ball at high-tempo.
When Alaba doesn't take command of possession, look for quick returns and offer some thrust going forward, Bayern is ostensibly pedestrian - especially at the moment with Arjen Robben also out injured.
What may also be a concern for Bayern is that Alaba has gone down with another knee problem, albeit this time on his left. The strenuous demands of modern football, the need to twist-turn-and-change-direction and his relentless high-tempo, fast-paced nature could leave Alaba troubled in the future.
But that's a concern for another day - at the moment, Bayern's treble chase, and especially the Champions League, has taken a damaging blow.