Signs of tension in Bayern despite good start
European Football Headlines
(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
By NESHA STARCEVIC
AP Sports Writer
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) There were signs of tension at Bayern Munich even before the Bundesliga powerhouse fell to its first defeat of the season, losing 3-1 at lightly regarded BATE Borisov in the Champions League.
At home, Bayern is off to a perfect start with six wins from six matches, but sporting director Matthias Sammer still found fault with the team's performance, drawing the ire of veteran coach Jupp Heynckes.
The unexpected loss against BATE this week only highlighted the differences, although both men tried to present a united front after the team's return from Belarus.
Bayern President Uli Hoeness defended both men and said their differences were exaggerated by the media.
It remains to be seen how the team will react in the Bundesliga on Saturday against Hoffenheim.
In the previous round, Bayern scored two late goals to win 2-0 at Werder Bremen, prompting Sammer to criticize the performance as "soggy," among other attributes.
Heynckes responded by saying the criticism was unjustified and that he could not agree with it, saying such discussions were better left behind closed doors. He also said accused Sammer of "populism."
Sammer was lured over from the German football federation in the offseason to jolt a team that had not won a title in two seasons, an eternity in Bayern's terms.
The outspoken Sammer was on the Germany team when it won the 1996 European Championship, its last major title.
He immediately took an active and public role in Bayern, attending every practice and sitting on the bench at every match. Many wondered how the fiery Sammer would get along with Heynckes, the 67-year-old even-tempered coach and a man of understatements.
Hoeness, a friend of Henyckes who persuaded the coach to return to Bayern, said Heynckes was doing a "super job" but that it was Sammer's job to criticize.
Hoeness said Sammer's criticism was justified and that Heynckes had to accept it.
The president described the differences between the two men as "little problems" blown out of proportion by the online media but advised them to settle any problems privately.
The loss in Belarus ended Bayern's run of nine consecutive wins in all competitions and prevented it from setting a club record for best start to a season.
There was more bad news for Bayern this week when the team's doctor said he could not predict when striker Mario Gomez would return after ankle surgery. His replacement Mario Mandzukic tops the league with six goals, though, and Bayern has so far overcome the absence of Gomez, its top scorer over the past two seasons.
Hoffenheim comes to the Allianz Arena still recovering from the shock of having its midfielder Boris Vukcevic in critical condition after a car crash.
Bayern is seven points ahead of Borussia Dortmund, but the defending champion has moved into third place with a 5-0 win at Moenchengladbach.
Dortmund, which was unlucky to get only a 1-1 draw at Manchester City in the Champions League, doesn't play until Sunday, when it visits Hannover.
Eintracht Frankfurt, which is two points behind Bayern, travels to Moenchengladbach on Sunday.
Last-place Augsburg kicks off the seventh round on Friday against Werder.
Schalke hosts Wolfsburg on Saturday, Freiburg plays Nuremberg, Greuther Fuerth meets Hamburger SV and Mainz is at home against promoted Fortuna Duesseldorf, the only undefeated team apart from Bayern and Frankfurt.
In the third match on Sunday, Stuttgart hosts Bayer Leverkusen.
Updated October 4, 2012