Bundesliga butchers: Where on Earth do Bayern expect to play Draxler?

The Bavarians have admitted their interest in bringing the Schalke star to the Allianz Arena, but have absolutely no need for the 20-year-old

COMMENT
By Enis Koylu

It was news that surprised few, but shocked so many. When Matthias Sammer publicly expressed Bayern Munich’s interest in signing Germany wonderkid Julian Draxler, there was a sense of deja vu to it all; the Champions League holders attempting to lure yet another top Bundesliga talent to the club.

On the face of it, the German champions moving for Draxler makes perfect sense. Though a Schalke boy through and through, the 20-year-old has always seemed destined for bigger and better things and Bayern would help him achieve his goals.

However, scratch the surface and it is all cynically familiar. Bayern have long made a habit of monopolising the top talent in Germany, signing the best players not just to strengthen their own squad, but to weaken that of potential rivals.

 President Uli Hoeness, who made his fortune in the meat trade, has taken to butchering his side’s rivals.

They may have a fantastic history of breeding players of their own; Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller, Paul Breitner and more recently Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm all emerging through the ranks in Munich and into the annals of German football history. But, the Bavarians have been massively supplemented by players and coaches poached from domestic competition. The likes of Lothar Matthaus, Michael Ballack, Lucio, Ze Roberto, and of course Mario Gotze, who have been captured from their nearest rivals. Even sporting director Sammer himself.

The teams left reeling from their aggressive transfer policy are numerous: Werder Bremen, Bayer Leverkusen and even Karlsruhe built fine teams, but their best players – the Miroslav Kloses, Ballacks and Oliver Kahns – were plundered by Bayern.

Eintracht Frankfurt will lose one of their key players, Sebastian Rode, to the German champions in the summer and club president Heribert Bruchhagen is in no doubt as to what attracts them to the Allianz Arena.

“Why does Sebastian want to go to Bayern? My God, these are young people. They can earn four times as much money at Bayern as they can here. End of story.”

And now they are taking their old policy to new levels. Robert Lewandowski is set to join Gotze at the Allianz Arena in the summer from Borussia Dortmund, effectively hammering the final nail into the coffin of the team who stole Bayern’s German hegemony between 2010 and 2012.

But while Gotze was to an extent required to ease the creative burden on Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, and Lewandowski will be an upgrade on Mario Mandzukic, it is hard to find any on-field reason to move for Draxler.

The Gladbeck native’s performances this year show that he still has a lot to learn and would struggle to challenge more experienced campaigners for a regular spot in the team. He deserves a club that would treat him with patience if he chooses to leave the Veltins Arena. Gotze, Ribery, Robben, Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos would all be ahead of him in the pecking order. What’s more, if Bayern were to make another big-name signing this summer, they would be far better off bolstering their defence than their attack.

Moving to Bayern is far from a guarantee of success, too. Manuel Neuer has blossomed into one of the world’s best, and most decorated, goalkeepers since switching to Munich, but Lukas Podolski – though his medal collection grew – found himself desperate enough to return to struggling hometown club Koln.

Until recently, the Bundesliga boasted something La Liga, the Premier League and Serie A could not: genuine unpredictability which could see a minnow stun everyone and claim the title. But this has now ended and the Bundesliga has become the most predictable league in Europe.

And football needs competition to thrive. In the business world, companies who try to introduce a monopoly on a product are duly punished, just as Microsoft were by the US government in 1998.

The Bundesliga has grown into one of the most popular leagues in the world in recent years, but Bayern – while breaking no rules – are going a long way to destroying the product they were instrumental in creating by eliminating all of their rivals.

Signing Draxler, a player they hardly need for sporting reasons, would see them descend into self-parody and represent another nail in the coffin of what was once a brilliant league.

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Bayern Munich-Schalke Preview: Muller ruled out as Bavarians seek 12th-straight home league win

Bayern Munich represent daunting hosts on Saturday for a Schalke side seeking to bounce back from a mauling at the hands of Real Madrid.

The Gelsenkirchen outfit were subjected to a humiliating 6-1 thrashing by the Blancos on Wednesday in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Schalke had entered the fixture in confident mood, with Madrid having won only once in 25 previous visits to German opposition.

Yet Carlo Ancelotti’s men are not top of La Liga by accident and a scintillating display from the Spanish side – which saw Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo all score twice – has seemingly put paid to any hopes Schalke have of reaching the quarter-finals.

Life is not likely to get any easier for Jens Keller’s men when they travel to the Allianz Arena to face runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayern.

Pep Guardiola’s charges have been simply unstoppable in Germany’s top flight this season and their relentless march towards a defence of the Bundesliga title shows no signs of being slowed.

The unbeaten Bavarians have dropped points on just two occasions this term thanks to a mix of irresistible attacking displays and defensive solidarity, highlighted by the fact Bayern boast comfortably the best offensive and defensive record in the league with 61 goals scored and just nine conceded.

Prior to their heavy defeat at home to Madrid, Schalke had displayed excellent form, winning five times in an unbeaten run of league games spanning seven matches.

However, Schalke have lost six games in a row against Bayern without scoring, conceding at least four in the previous three meetings between the teams.

Thomas Muller misses out for Bayern this weekend due to a hamstring injury, while the game could come too soon for Franck Ribery (thigh) and Xherdan Shaqiri (hamstring).

Schalke attacker Julian Draxler made his first start since December against Madrid after an ankle injury and was able to complete the full 90 minutes.

Bayern Munich are beatable, says Neuer

The former Schalke goalkeeper doubts the Bavarians will be able to replicate Real Madrid’s 6-1 thrashing in midweek when they host die Knappen on Saturday

Manuel Neuer has insisted that Bayern Munich can be beaten by Schalke this weekend if they do not put in a top performance.

Jens Keller’s men were humiliated in a 6-1 defeat at Veltins Arena in the Champions League in midweek, triggering jokes in social media that they could concede double figures on their visit to the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

The Bavarians are yet to lose in the league this season and have won all their home Bundesliga games, but Neuer, who made his name starring in goal for Schalke before he joined die Roten, thinks his old side have the attackers to hurt them in Munich if they do not bring their best form.

“They don’t have the players to sit back and defend – their strength lies in attack,” the Bayern shot-stopper told reporters on Thursday.

“Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Jefferson Farfan don’t like to work in defence, they prefer to stay up front. The same goes for Max Meyer and Julian Draxler.

“We know we are beatable, we know it’s dangerous to let things slide. The coach always has new challenges for us.

“We’ve just worked together with Pep Guardiola for more than half a year now, but he does not see us where he wants us to be. That’s the positive aspect: there is still room for further development.”

The ex-Veltins Arena goalkeeper suggested Schalke’s hammering at the hands of Real Madrid was an anomaly and does not think it is likely that Bayern will replicate that result this weekend.

“I know them better then anyone else, of course,” he continued. “They wanted to show a great match againt Madrid.

“If they had had a better day they could have competed. Of course you can accept losing against that team, but not like that.

“They’ve shown a good start in the Bundesliga. We don’t plan to see them off with six goals though, we just want to win the match.”

Bayern have an all-but-unassailable 19-point lead in the Bundesliga over second-placed Bayer Leverkusen after 22 matchdays.

Bayern better now than ever before – Rummenigge

The Bavarians chief thinks the current group, coached by Pep Guardiola, is stronger even than the side 45 years ago which had Gerd Muller and Franz Beckenbauer

Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge believes the club are potentially going through the best-ever spell in their 114-year history.

February 27 marks the Bavarians’ birthday and title victories in the Bundeliga, the Champions League, DFB-Pokal, Uefa Super Cup and Club World Cup in the past 12 months means they can celebrate in some style.

With Pep Guardiola’s side sitting top of the league by an astonishing 19 points in the current campaign, and with a 2-0 first-leg advantage secured over Arsenal in Europe, Rummenigge is contemplating the possibility that the current Roten players form the best collection that the German giants have ever seen.

“Last season was simply brilliant,” the former West Germany star told Bayern’s official website. “We’re writing a success story at the moment in a way we’ve never experienced before.

“We’ve had a lot of great teams over the years, starting in the 1970s with Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller and Sepp Maier when we won the European Cup three times on the trot. An incredible achievement!

“But it was a different time back then. The quality we’ve got on the pitch and on the bench now is out of this world. The club are possibly going through its best period to date.”

Bayern resume competitive action when they host Schalke – who were pummelled 6-1 by Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday – in Munich on Saturday, with kick off at 18:30CET.

Guardiola responsible for Bayern success, says Rummenigge

The FCB director has stressed that the club’s successful season so far is no coincidence, but is largely the result of the Spaniard’s presence

Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has hailed Pep Guardiola’s contribution to the Bundesliga giants’ recent successes and feels the 43-year-old has helped increase the club’s popularity, too.

The former Barcelona coach replaced Jupp Heynckes as the man in charge of the Bavarians at the start of the 2013-14 season after last term’s historic treble win, and Rummenigge is impressed with Guardiola’s work so far.

“This individual is a stroke of fortune for Bayern Munich as he combines quality and hard work in an unparalleled way,” Rummenigge told the official Bayern website.

“Everything that looks so effortless in public is the product of hard work from Monday to Friday. The intensity on the training ground, which I regularly see from the window of my office, is a marker.

“It’s no coincidence we’re writing this success story now.

“And we show the necessary respect to every opponent. I’ve never heard Pep utter a single arrogant word. That really pleases me and that struck me in his time at Barcelona.

“Our popularity has never been so high before. That’s also down to Pep.”

Bayern are unbeaten in the Bundesliga under Guardiola, collecting 62 points from 22 encounters.