Thomas Tuchel insists he will give everything to Bayern Munich ahead of his departure in the summer and hopes the decision over his future allows the team to play with “freedom”.

Tuchel has been unable to arrest a downturn in form, and speculation over his position came to a head this week when the club announced he would be leaving at the end of the current campaign.

Saturday’s game against RB Leipzig will be his first in charge since the news became public, with Bayern looking to end a three-game losing streak following losses to title rivals Bayer Leverkusen, Lazio and Bochum.

And while there is a possibility Tuchel could be seen as a lame duck coach over the coming months, he thinks the removal of uncertainty over his role could spark an upturn.

“I view it professionally and unemotionally. It’s a professional sport at the highest level,” he said of his shortened reign.

“There aren’t guilty individuals. I don’t think I’m the only problem, but I have responsibility. Now we have a new situation, it’s resolved, which hopefully makes it clear and brings freedom.

“This job only works if I give 100 per cent of myself. I have a very high professional expectation of myself and that’s completely dedicated to Bayern Munich until the end of the season. We have aims: we’re going for the maximum in the league and won’t give up until it’s over. In the Champions League we still have a second leg (against Lazio), so we are playing for maximum success.”

Tuchel resisted the temptation to divert blame away from himself and on to his players, but accepted the performance levels on matchday had been falling consistently short of expectations.

“The management know my analysis, which is also very self-critical. But it’s definitely not an analysis for the public,” he said.

“I’m not personally disappointed in the players. We have high standards, that won’t change. I’ve never had the feeling that there’s a big problem but there is a glaring discrepancy between the way we’re training and the way we’re playing. We’ve trained at a good level but that’s no guarantee that we’ll produce a good performance.”

Injuries have upset Bayern’s rhythm this term and they continue to be stretched, with Dayot Upamecano suspended and an injury list that contains Kingsley Coman, Sacha Boey, Noussair Mazraoui, Bouna Sarr, Serge Gnabry and Alphonso Davies.

Leipzig have proved tricky opponents in recent times, taking two draws and two wins from their last four games against Bayern.

Dani Olmo bagged a hat-trick when his side romped to a 3-0 win in the Super Cup final last August, a memory that still burns bright with the Spaniard.

“I would say it was a perfect game from all of us and for me individually to score three goals in Munich, in the Allianz, and to be able to win a trophy,” he said.

“It was for sure one of my best performances but we have to keep going because football never stops and now we have another chance. Bayern is always the opponent that motivates us. It’s always special.”

Bayer Leverkusen head coach Xabi Alonso has insisted there is “nothing new to say” regarding fresh speculation over his future.

Alonso has been heavily linked with the Liverpool job since Jurgen Klopp announced last month he would step down at the end of the campaign, but the Premier League club now face competition from Bayern Munich.

It was revealed on Wednesday that current Bayern boss Thomas Tuchel will leave his position at the conclusion of the season – increasing the scrutiny on Alonso.

The former Liverpool and Bayern midfielder has enjoyed an excellent campaign in charge of Leverkusen, establishing an eight-point lead at the Bundesliga summit and guiding them through to the last 16 of the Europa League ahead of Friday’s league visit of Mainz.

Alonso faced the media on Thursday and started his press conference by shutting down speculation over his future.

“Maybe you have some questions about my future, but I’m sorry, I have nothing new to say. I wanted to say that beforehand,” he told a press conference, via Bild.

“Right now I’m the (Leverkusen) coach. That’s for sure. I have nothing new to say for the future. We will see. It’s normal that there are questions, but it’s off topic now. Now is not the time for me to talk much about it.”

Asked if Bayern had contacted him since the Tuchel announcement, Alonso replied: “I understand the question, but I have to say again that I have nothing new to say. It’s just hypothetical.”

 

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The 42-year-old also insisted it had been a normal week for his squad and claimed he was currently preparing to be Leverkusen boss next season given his contract runs until 2026.

He said: “I’m assuming that right now.

“This week was normal. It was quiet for us. We had three training sessions. That is normal.

“I know that it is my goal, it is my job, to be successful with the team. This is my work. We are in a very good situation right now. We want to continue like this. That’s enough for me.”

Bayern Munich have announced that head coach Thomas Tuchel will leave the club at the end of the season.

Tuchel’s position has come under scrutiny following a woeful run of results that has left the Bundesliga champions facing the prospect of a first season without winning a trophy since 2011-12.

Bayern chief executive Jan-Christian Dreesen told the club website: “In an open, good conversation we came to the decision to mutually end our collaboration in the summer. Our goal is to carry out a sporting realignment with a new coach for the 2024/25 season.

Former Chelsea boss Tuchel, who took over in March 2023, said: “We have agreed that we will end our collaboration after this season. Until then, I and my coaching team will of course continue to do everything we can to ensure maximum success.”

Bayern Munich’s shock defeat to Bochum on Sunday means they have lost three games in a row for the first time since 2015.

England captain Harry Kane’s late goal was not enough to avoid a 3-2 defeat, with Kevin Stoger’s penalty proving decisive.

That followed their 3-0 setback at title rivals Bayer Leverkusen, who now lead the Bundesliga by eight points, and 1-0 Champions League first-leg loss to Lazio.

Coach Thomas Tuchel insisted the Bochum result was “not deserved” after an improved performance but the losing run is the worst, excluding friendlies, since May 2015.

Pep Guardiola’s side on that occasion suffered through a very similar run starting with a 2-0 league defeat to Leverkusen.

Again a Champions League defeat followed – 3-0 to Barcelona in the semi-final first leg, with two late goals from Lionel Messi and one from Neymar – and they then suffered a Bundesliga shock against Augsburg.

Possibly the more appropriate post-match quote came from midfielder Leon Goretzka, who told the club’s website: “It feels like a horror film that doesn’t stop. Everything is going against us.”

The central protagonist in that storyline is defender Dayot Upamecano – remarkably, he has been sent off for conceding the penalties that led to the winning goals for both Lazio and Bochum.

Bayern Munich slumped to a 3-2 defeat at Bochum to remain eight points behind leaders Bayer Leverkusen, increasing the pressure on manager Thomas Tuchel.

The German giants – beaten 1-0 at Lazio in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday night – had taken the lead in the 15th minute through Jamal Musiala.

After Harry Kane blasted over when clear, the match was halted in the 22nd minute as tennis balls were thrown onto the pitch in another protest by supporters against a controversial plan to sell a stake in Bundesliga media rights.

Once the game resumed, Bochum equalised in the 38th minute through Japan forward Takuma Asano before Keven Schlotterbeck headed in from a corner just before the break.

The players were taken off again early in the second half following another fan protest, before Bayern were reduced to 10 men when defender Dayot Upamecano – having also been sent off in midweek – was shown a red card for raising his arm into the face of Schlotterbeck in the area. Kevin Stoger made no mistake from the resulting penalty to make it 3-1.

Kane reduced the deficit in the 87th minute when he tapped in his 25th Bundesliga goal but the England captain was unable to convert a stoppage-time header from close range as Bayern slumped to a third successive defeat.

Earlier on Sunday, Michael Gregoritsch’s late equaliser saw Freiburg fight back to draw 3-3 against Eintracht Frankfurt at the Europa-Park Stadion.

Play was halted midway through the second half because of more protests from fans – which saw remote-controlled planes flown around the stadium while sweets were thrown onto the pitch behind one of the goals.

LaLiga leaders Real Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw by lowly city neighbours Rayo Vallecano.

Los Blancos, without Jude Bellingham through injury, had taken an early lead through Joselu and looked set to go eight points clear of Girona, who play at Athletic Bilbao on Monday night.

However, a 27th-minute penalty from Raul de Tomas proved enough for Rayo to earn a derby point in their first match under new boss Inigo Perez, with Real having Dani Carvajal sent off late on.

Real Betis dropped out of the top six after being held to a goalless draw at home by Alaves.

Real Sociedad secured a first victory in six matches after coming from behind to win 2-1 at 10-man Mallorca thanks to a stoppage-time header from Mikel Merino, the hosts having seen captain Antonio Raillo sent off just before the break.

At the other end of the table, the bottom two sides Granada and Almeria cancelled each other out in a 1-1 draw.

AC Milan missed the chance to go second in Serie A as they slumped to a 4-2 defeat at neighbours Monza, finishing with 10 men after Luka Jovic was sent off.

After Monza goalkeeper Michele Di Gregorio had to be substituted following a clash of heads with team-mate Andrea Carboni, the hosts took the lead through Matteo Pessina’s penalty and Dany Mota added a second just before half-time.

Jovic was sent off six minutes into the second half, his yellow card upgraded to a red on VAR review, for lashing out at Armando Izzo.

Substitutes Olivier Giroud and Christian Pulisic then hauled the Rossoneri level – only for Warren Bondo to swiftly put Monza ahead again before on-loan forward Lorenzo Colombo added a fourth against his parent club.

Bologna had earlier kept up their challenge for the Champions League places after Joshua Zirkzee’s late goal gave them a 2-1 win at Lazio.

Roma won 3-0 at Frosinone to maintain their ambitions of a top-six finish.

Relegation-battlers Cagliari drew 1-1 at Udinese and it also finished 1-1 between Empoli and Fiorentina.

In Ligue 1, Brest beat Marseille 1-0 with an 89th-minute goal from Pierre Lees-Melou after forward Steve Mounie had been sent off to move above Nice into second place.

Mohamed Bamba scored a first-half double as Lorient won 3-1 at Strasbourg to move out of the drop zone.

Monaco saw their top-four ambitions dented with a 2-1 home defeat by Toulouse, while a brace from Martin Terrier saw in-form Rennes beat 10-man Clermont 3-1.

Africa Cup of Nations winner Oumar Diakite marked his return to club action with a goal as Reims drew 1-1 with Lens while Montpellier beat Metz 3-0.

Bayern Munich slumped to a 3-2 defeat at Bochum to remain eight points behind leaders Bayer Leverkusen.

Thomas Tuchel’s side – who were beaten 1-0 at Lazio in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie on Wednesday night – had taken the lead in the 15th minute through winger Jamal Musiala.

After Harry Kane blasted over when sent clear in the penalty area, the match was halted in the 22nd minute as tennis balls were thrown onto the pitch in another protest by supporters against a controversial plan to sell a stake in Bundesliga media rights.

Once the game resumed, Bochum equalised in the 38th minute through Japan forward Takuma Asano before Keven Schlotterbeck headed in from a corner just before the break.

The players were taken off again early in the second half following another protest of throwing tennis balls from the stands.

Bayern found themselves down to 10 men for the closing stages after defender Dayot Upamecano was shown a red card for raising his arm into the face of Schlotterbeck in the area. Kevin Stoger made no mistake from the resulting penalty.

Kane reduced the deficit in the 87th minute after being presented with a tap-in by substitute Mathys Tel for his 25th Bundesliga goal.

The England striker sent a header straight at the Bochum goalkeeper during eight minutes of stoppage time as Bayern slumped to a third straight defeat.

Earlier on Sunday, Michael Gregoritsch’s late equaliser saw Freiburg fight back to draw 3-3 against Eintracht Frankfurt at the Europa-Park Stadion.

Play was halted midway through the second half because of protests from fans – which saw remote-controlled planes flown around the stadium while sweets were thrown onto the pitch behind one of the goals.

When the action resumed, Ansgar Knauff’s second goal of the game had Frankfurt back in front at 3-2 with 20 minutes left, only for Gregoritsch to head in a last-minute equaliser.

LaLiga leaders Real Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw by lowly city neighbours Rayo Vallecano.

Los Blancos, without Jude Bellingham through injury, had taken an early lead through Joselu and looked all set to go eight points clear of Girona, who play at Athletic Bilbao on Monday night.

However, a 27th-minute penalty from Raul de Tomas proved enough for Rayo to earn a derby point in their first match under new boss Inigo Perez.

At the other end of the table, the bottom two sides Granada and Almeria cancelled each other out in a 1-1 draw at Los Carmenes.

Marc Pubill had given visitors Almeria a ninth-minute lead, but Myrto Uzuni equalised with 15 minutes left.

In Ligue 1, Mohamed Bamba scored a first-half brace as relegation-battlers Lorient won 3-1 at Strasbourg to move out of the drop zone.

Monaco saw their top-four ambitions dented with a 2-1 home defeat by Toulouse, with Logan Costa’s late goal securing the points for the visitors, who edged further clear of trouble.

A brace from Martin Terrier saw in-form Rennes beat 10-man Clermont 3-1 and continue their climb up the table.

Africa Cup of Nations winner Oumar Diakite marked his return to club action with a goal as Reims drew 1-1 at home against Lens while Montpellier beat Metz 3-0 at Stade de la Mosson.

Dayot Upamecano was sent off for the second time in five days as Bayern Munich’s Bundesliga title challenge suffered a massive blow with a 3-2 defeat at lowly Bochum.

In a game twice disrupted by fan protests, Jamal Musiala gave the visitors an early lead, but Bochum hit back through Takuma Asano and Keven Schlotterbeck before Bayern defender Upamecano was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Kevin Stoger converted the resulting penalty and although Harry Kane pulled one back with his 25th goal of the season, Bochum held on for a famous win which eased their relegation fears and lifted them to 11th in the table.

Bayern’s third straight defeat in all competitions leaves them eight points adrift of leaders Bayer Leverkusen and increases the pressure on manager Thomas Tuchel, who had urged his players to “turn around the mood” against opponents they thrashed 7-0 in the reverse fixture in September.

The visitors duly dominated the early stages and deservedly opened the scoring in the 14th minute as Musiala rifled an unstoppable shot into the top corner after seeing his initial effort saved by Manuel Riemann.

Musiala then turned provider with a delightful pass with the outside of his right foot to set Kane racing clear, only for the England captain to blaze his shot high over the bar.

Kane felt the ball had bobbled just before he hit it and looked down in disgust at the Ruhrstadion turf, but that cut little ice with a furious Thomas Muller, who had been unmarked in acres of space to Kane’s right.

Play was then halted for around 15 minutes after fans threw tennis balls on to the pitch in the latest protests against a proposed deal to sell a stake in Bundesliga rights to a private equity investor.

Both sets of players were moved to the sidelines but it was Bayern who were caught cold when play eventually resumed, a swift counter-attack seeing Anthony Losilla set up Asano to fire a low shot across Manuel Neuer and into the bottom corner.

The home side suddenly had all the momentum and it was no surprise when they took the lead six minutes later, Schlotterbeck heading home from close range from Stoger’s corner.

Another protest delayed play by around eight minutes in the second half, Losilla going over to speak to some of the home fans before the players briefly headed to the dressing rooms.

Bayern reacted better to the second stoppage than they did the first, substitute Leroy Sane seeing his goalbound volley bravely blocked and Bryan Zaragoza’s effort saved by Riemann, but it was the home side who found the all-important next goal.

Upamecano, who was also sent off in the Champions League defeat at Lazio on Wednesday, picked up his second yellow card of the game for an elbow on Schlotterbeck as they jumped for the ball and Stoger made no mistake with the penalty, despite Neuer getting his left hand to the ball.

Kane pulled one back with a simple tap-in after being set up by Mathys Tel but could only direct a far-post header straight at Riemann in the second minute of stoppage time and Bochum clung on for the win.

Bayern Munich manager Thomas Tuchel has urged his team to turn things around following their disappointing Champions League defeat to Lazio.

Bayern were beaten 1-0 at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday thanks to Ciro Immobile’s penalty after Dayot Upamecano was sent off for a late challenge on Gustav Isaksen.

The result came days after a disappointing 3-0 loss to Xabi Alonso’s high-flying Bayer Leverkusen and Tuchel insists his side are working to “turn around the mood”.

Reflecting on the Lazio game, he told a press conference: “It’s an unusual situation. The mood is obviously down because we expected a reaction from ourselves.

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“The defeat is still only a first-leg defeat. We’re not out of the Champions League. Everyone wants to turn around the mood.

“From my experience, that only happens through work on the training ground, and we tried that yesterday. We’ll definitely give our all to bring the energy to turn things around.”

Leverkusen are five points clear of Bayern at the top of the Bundesliga going into this weekend’s action and up next for Tuchel’s side is a trip to Bochum.

Bayern utterly dominated in the reverse fixture at the Allianz Arena in September where England captain Harry Kane bagged a hat-trick as the Bavarian side emerged with a 7-0 victory.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Matthijs de Ligt, Leroy Sane and Mathys Tel were also on target as Bayern battered Bochum, but Tuchel expects a “hard-fought game” on Sunday.

“We need to get back that ease, that’s tough. I’m not expecting a walk in the park in Bochum,” he said.

“It’ll be a tough pitch, tough opponent who have got good results lately. A physical opponent.

“Bochum played very well against Stuttgart (a 1-0 win) and Augsburg (a 1-1 draw), I’m expecting a very hard-fought game. We’ve also adapted our training, but that’s normal.

“I’m not expecting a deep, tactically well-organised defensive block that just lets us have the ball, but one that gets at us high up the pitch, plays long balls, fights for the ball.

“It’s a completely new challenge, it doesn’t matter who it is. At Bayern it’s about always getting back up and putting your neck on the line.

“We’re still in second place. We don’t need to be ashamed of that. We don’t need any sympathy.”

Kane leads the goalscoring charts in the Bundesliga with 24 so far this season, but struggled to make an impact in the Lazio defeat and Tuchel admitted there has been a “discrepancy” between training and matches in providing chances for the England international.

“Harry takes care of himself. He doesn’t need me. He’s not happy with the connection in games – neither are we,” Tuchel said.

“I’ve rarely seen such a discrepancy between training and matches. The way he scores in training, the way he puts his chances away – it’s incredible. It’s world-class. But then we rarely find him in matches.

“He acts like a captain. Everything’s okay with him.”

Bayern Munich full-back Sacha Boey is facing several weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.

Tests have revealed the 23-year-old Frenchman, who joined the club from Galatasaray last month, suffered “a large tear” in his left hamstring during training.

A statement on the club’s official website read: “FC Bayern will be without Sacha Boey for the coming weeks after the 23-year-old January arrival suffered a large tear in his left hamstring in training.

“This is the result of examination by the FC Bayern medical department.”

Boey started last Saturday’s 3-0 Bundesliga defeat at Bayer Leverkusen – his second appearance for the club – but was an unused substitute as the German champions went down 1-0 at Lazio in the Champions League on Wednesday evening.

The news represents a fresh blow for Bayern boss Thomas Tuchel, who headed for Rome under intense pressure after the defeat by Leverkusen left his side five points adrift of the leaders.

Tuchel’s men head for Bochum on Sunday, host fifth-placed RB Leipzig and travel to Freiburg in the league before the second leg of their last 16 clash with Lazio on March 5.

Bayern Munich have condemned the racist abuse directed at Dayot Upamecano following their Champions League defeat at Lazio on Wednesday.

France defender Upamecano was sent off in the 67th minute after conceding a penalty, which Ciro Immobile converted for Lazio’s 1-0 round of 16 first-leg win.

“FC Bayern strongly condemn the racist comments being directed towards Dayot Upamecano on social media,” the German champions said in a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Anyone who comments hateful words such as these is no fan of our club. We’re all behind you, Upa!”

Upamecano’s red card means the 25-year-old will miss the second leg in Munich on March 5.

Bayern’s defeat increased the pressure on former Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel after Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen saw them fall five points behind Xabi Alonso’s Bundesliga leaders.

Tuchel’s side also suffered a shock second-round German Cup exit to third division minnows Saarbrucken in November.

Ciro Immobile’s second-half penalty earned Lazio a shock 1-0 first-leg win over 10-man Bayern Munich in the Champions League last-16.

Striker Immobile sent Manuel Neuer the wrong way from 12 yards in the 69th minute after Bayern defender Dayot Upamecano was sent off for a late challenge on Gustav Isaksen.

The Bundesliga side, who arrived in Rome on the back of a damaging 3-0 defeat to title rivals Bayer Leverkusen, dominated first-half possession but were unable to capitalise, with Harry Kane largely starved of service.

Leroy Sane and Jamal Musiala each went close for the six-time European champions before Immobile’s spot-kick settled the contest to increase pressure on Bayern boss Thomas Tuchel.

Kylian Mbappe set Paris St Germain on course for a 2-0 success over Real Sociedad in Wednesday’s other tie.

The France star opened the scoring in the 58th minute at Parc des Princes by volleying home Marquinhos’ flick on following Ousmane Dembele’s right-wing corner.

Bradley Barcola secured breathing space for the Ligue 1 leaders ahead of the return match on March 5 with his first Champions League goal.

The 21-year-old forward burst past Hamari Traore on the PSG left before poking the ball beyond Sociedad goalkeeper Alex Remiro with 20 minutes remaining.

Harry Kane made little impact as Bayern Munich’s week went from bad to worse following a shock 1-0 loss in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash with Lazio.

Ciro Immobile’s second-half penalty proved the difference at Stadio Olimpico to pile pressure on Bayern boss Thomas Tuchel on the back of a damaging 3-0 defeat at title rivals Bayer Leverkusen.

England captain Kane, who is one short of reaching 50 club goals in European competition, barely touched the ball during a tight battle between two former Chelsea managers in the Italian capital.

His side dominated possession before Maurizio Sarri’s men snatched a slender aggregate advantage when Immobile sent Manuel Neuer the wrong way from 12 yards in the 69th minute after Dayot Upamecano was dismissed for a late challenge on Gustav Isaksen.

Leroy Sane and Jamal Musiala went closest for the German club, who have plenty to do in the return match at Allianz Arena on March 5.

Bayern arrived in Rome having fallen five points off the pace in the Bundesliga following Saturday’s emphatic loss at Leverkusen.

Under-fire boss Tuchel made three personnel changes in a bid to bounce back, including dropping Eric Dier and recalling Germany internationals Joshua Kimmich and Thomas Muller.

Kimmich curled wide in the opening exchanges before Kane could not keep a close-range effort down following Muller’s pull back, while Luis Alberto lashed over from distance for the side sitting seventh in Serie A.

Former Manchester City forward Sane went close when his 32nd-minute effort whistled past the left post after Leon Goretzka and Muller shifted the angle of a free-kick on the edge of the D.

Musiala then fired over following impressive build-up play as the away side failed to register an attempt on target before the break.

Bayern beat Lazio 6-2 on aggregate as reigning champions at the same stage of the tournament in 2020-21 and were heavy favourites to repeat that feat.

Yet, having been relatively untested defensively, the visitors nearly conceded within three minutes of the restart.

Danish forward Isaksen was sent clear on goal after Bayern centre-back Upamecano was dispossessed by former Liverpool man Alberto, only for his low effort to be repelled by the legs of Neuer.

The six-time European champions were struggling to regain the upper hand and felt aggrieved to fall behind 21 minutes from time during a pivotal moment in the match.

French referee Francois Letexier pointed to the spot and brandished a red card after Upamecano caught Isaksen with his studs inside the box.

Bayern were unhappy with the decision but that did not stop Immobile – fresh from scoring his 200th Serie A goal in Saturday’s 3-1 win at Cagliari – calmly rolling home into the bottom right corner.

Former Tottenham striker Kane saw a long-rang free-kick deflected over as below-par Bayern sought a leveller.

Yet the surprise result could have been worse.

Felipe Anderson and substitute Pedro each went close to doubling Lazio’s lead late on, with Tuchel given plenty to ponder.

Bayern Munich boss Thomas Tuchel has defended “p****d off” Thomas Muller’s right to deliver a withering assessment of his team after their Bundesliga title hopes suffered a major setback.

Bayern, who have won the league for the last 11 seasons, were beaten 3-0 at Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday as the hosts opened up a five-point lead at the top of the table, prompting 34-year-old Germany international Muller to reveal he was “p****d off” at their lack of “energy and freedom” in an explosive post-match interview.

However, speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Wednesday night’s Champions League last-16 clash with Lazio, Tuchel said: “I think he pretty much hit the nail on the head – and if anybody is allowed to issue a statement like that, it is Thomas.”

Tuchel, who admitted his players are currently struggling to transfer their quality in training into games, added: “Thomas is allowed to say this to the microphones because he’s also going to address it internally.

“And it’s important that the team internally talks about it because when we wake up tomorrow and look out of the window and see Rome, you know it’s a different competition and a new day.

“Even though Bayern Munich loses, the sun will rise again, even though you won’t believe it. We will allow ourselves to really be happy and to try to win. That’s part of the game.”

Tuchel finds himself under pressure heading into the game, but is adamant he will not allow it to distract him.

He said: “No, I don’t feel any increasing pressure. Pressure as such is a privilege, it’s a sporting pressure. I’ve never felt it differently and it hasn’t changed anything.

“It’s important to stay self-confident, to stay self-critical.

“The stronger the noise is around the game and the stronger the pressure gets, it’s more important to stay calm. Nothing will change.”

Lazio will hope to inflict further misery on the 2020 winners, and striker Ciro Immobile is relishing the chance to go head-to-head with Bayern’s 28-goal England striker Harry Kane.

Italy international Immobile told a press conference: “Numbers are important for a striker.

“Being able to compare myself with top-level players like Harry Kane is a big motivation for me. It allows me to understand the level I have reached in my career.

“But tomorrow it’s not a direct match with Kane that matters but the match between Lazio and Bayern.”

The Serie A side returned to form on on Saturday when they won 3-1 at Cagliari, in the process ending a run of three games without a victory, but they remain in eighth place in the table and a full 23 points adrift of leaders Inter Milan.

However, head coach Maurizio Sarri said: “We must not forget that we play to have fun. We need to rediscover the sense of fun on the pitch despite all the responsibilities we have to assume.

“If the child who loved playing football dies, the man also has less fun.”

Jeremie Frimpong fired into an empty net in stoppage time to cap Bayer Leverkusen’s outstanding 3-0 win over Bayern Munich as they celebrated carnival weekend in the Rhineland by moving five points clear at the top of the Bundesliga.

Josip Stanisic, the man on loan from Bayern, opened the scoring in the 18th minute before Alex Grimaldo doubled the advantage five minutes into the second half, but Frimpong added an exclamation mark after Manuel Neuer came up for a corner and Leverkusen broke to punish him.

Bayern had more of the ball but throughout the night it always felt as though Xabi Alonso’s side were the more dangerous, and this was a huge statement in their bid to win a first Bundesliga title and banish the nickname Vizekuzen – a mark of the five times they have finished runners-up.

The match at the BayArena kicked off eight minutes late after fans threw toy balls and other items onto the pitch as part of ongoing protests against the prospect of outside investment into the Bundesliga, and once play began it was Bayern who appeared to be on the front foot.

But while Leverkusen were happy to invite the visitors on to them, they were simply waiting for the moment to counter.

Their first shot at goal came in the 11th minute but Amine Adli’s effort lacked the power to trouble Neuer. Adli threatened again seven minutes later before Kim Min-jae got a foot in just in time, but Bayern were asleep from the resulting throw-in and were made to pay.

Robert Andrich drilled in a low ball across the face of goal and the Bayern defence stood still as Stanisic arrived to fire home, left all alone by Sacho Boey, usually a right-back but deployed on the left here in his second appearance since joining from Galatasaray last month.

Adli had a superb chance to get a second just before half-time as Granit Xhaka’s pin-point pass put him clean through on goal, but Dayot Upamecano recovered to get a toe on the ball, poking it back to Neuer.

It took only five minutes of the second half for the second to arrive. Grimaldo played a neat one-two with Nathan Tella to carve open the Bayern defence before beating Neuer at his near post with a rising shot.

Bayern were rocking, and there was chaos in their penalty area soon after, with Eric Dier’s cross hitting the arm of Leon Goretzka before bobbling back to Neuer, with a VAR check for handball coming to nothing.

Grimaldo hit the crossbar direct from a corner just after the hour as the ball dramatically dipped, but it bounced to safety.

Bayern tried to up the ante as Thomas Tuchel turned to his bench but struggled to create any real opportunities for a frustrated Harry Kane.

Instead, Leverkusen looked more likely to score again. Frimpong had already hit a post at the end of one late counter-attack, but had the final say after Neuer failed to get on the end of the corner and he raced down the pitch to fire into the unguarded net.

Bayern Munich head coach Thomas Tuchel is targeting a “statement performance” to end the 30-match unbeaten run of title rivals Bayer Leverkusen.

Leverkusen hold a two-point lead over Saturday’s visitors at the top of the Bundesliga after winning 16 and drawing four of their 20 league games this season.

Xabi Alonso’s side can also boast a 100 per cent record in the group stage of the Europa League and twice came from behind in the German Cup on Tuesday to beat Stuttgart 3-2 and advance to the semi-finals.

However, Bayern can call on their experience of winning 11 consecutive Bundesliga titles and Tuchel believes his side have room for improvement as they approach the business end of the season.

“It’s exciting that two teams are earning points at such a high level,” Tuchel told a pre-match press conference.

“We’ve also had a very good campaign in terms of our history. We’re completely focused on what we can do. We want a statement performance. If we want to win, we need a top performance.

“It’s the week in which we want to prove ourselves. We’re playing for our own objectives, and our objective is to step things up a notch, and then we can be fine in every game. Then we’ve got the individual quality for it. We’re ready to improve.”

Tuchel’s side also have the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Lazio to look forward to and the 50-year-old added: “We have a very attractive week ahead of us.

“A win for Leverkusen opens up a gap, but it won’t be over, although it feels like a special moment to lay your cards on the table. It’s about challenging ourselves and therefore the opponent from the first second to the last.

“We want to take the next step. Leverkusen are having an outstanding season. We’ve still got room for improvement. We feel ready to take the next step and want to push Leverkusen.”

Alphonso Davies remains sidelined with a tendon injury but Joshua Kimmich, Kim Min-jae and Dayot Upamecano have returned to training and are set to be in the matchday squad.

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who has been struggling with a knee problem, was set to take part in training on Friday before a decision is taken over whether he or Sven Ulreich will make the starting XI.

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