BERLIN: Misfiring Bayern Munich head to Russia’s Rostov for Wednesday’s (Thursday in Manila) Champions League clash under pressure to score goals and licking their wounds after being knocked from the top of the Bundesliga.
Bayern secured their last 16 place for the ninth consecutive season with a 2-1 win at PSV Eindhoven three weeks ago.
But the Germans need a win at Rostov, northeast of Moscow, to stay in touch with Group D leaders Atletico Madrid, who they host at Munich’s Allianz Arena on December 6.
Second-placed Bayern lag three points behind Atletico and are struggling to hit the back of the net.
Their 1-0 defeat at Borussia Dortmund on Saturday allowed RB Leipzig to finish the weekend top of the German league table.
It is the first time since September 2015 that Bayern have not been top in Germany.
Bayern failed to convert any of their 18 shots on goal and Germany forward Thomas Mueller is still waiting for his first league goal of the season.
“Obviously you can’t be happy when you lose top spot and drop points,” admitted captain Philipp Lahm.
“Now it’s back to the Champions League and after that we face Leverkusen (at home on Saturday). There are interesting weeks ahead.”
When Xabi Alonso hit the crossbar with an hour gone and his side 1-0 down in Dortmund, it was the 10th time Munich have hit the woodwork in the league this season.
Curiously, their strike rate is better in the Champions League where Robert Lewandowski has four goals in as many games, while Mueller has netted twice in Europe.
Having routed Rostov 5-0 in mid-September, Bayern need a convincing performance on the road as much as the three points with their Russian opponents clinging to third place and passage into the Europa League.
Bayern’s stars have taken flak in the German media since the Dortmund defeat and there is friction within the squad.
Ex-Germany captain Lothar Matthaeus says Bayern are currently missing the “fitness, joy and authority” in their play.
Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer criticized his teammates after only Thomas Mueller, Mats Hummels, Neuer and David Alaba went to applaud the 8,000 Bayern fans who had travelled 600kms to Dortmund to support their team.
“Of course, more of our players have to go to the terraces,” Neuer told Munich newspaper TZ.