Bayern Munich head coach Thomas Tuchel is the latest high-profile manager to take issue with the football calendar after admitting his players are physically and mentally tired.

Tuchel’s mood has not been helped by the Bundesliga scheduling their fixture at Cologne for Friday night.

Pre-weekend matches in Germany are generally designed to help teams with Champions League fixtures the following week but coming immediately off the back of an international break does not appear to have done Bayern too many favours.

“People want to see the best players play football with joy and desire,” Tuchel told a press conference.

“The calendar is at the absolute limit, if not over it. The boys are tired. They’re mentally tired, they’re emotionally tired, they’re physically tired.

“There are two more Champions League games next year, there’s a tournament in the summer (Euro 2024), that’s just at the limit.”

Some of Tuchel’s internationals only arrived back in Munich on Thursday, just 24 hours before kick-off.

“It’s our second Friday match. Minjae Kim and Alphonso Davies are only back from their travels today,” he added.

“It’s very unfortunate scheduling, particularly in a sporting sense, but it shouldn’t be an excuse. I don’t want to go on about it.

“We’ve opted for a short trip on Friday morning so that the players can sleep at home. We want to win and we’ll prepare to do that.”

Tuchel will be without defender Matthijs de Ligt and forward Jamal Musiala while defender Raphael Guerreiro is a doubt with a minor problem.

“We’re looking closely at which internationals have had a big workload like Konrad Laimer, Minjae Kim or Alphonso Davies. We’ll decide late on the line-up for tomorrow,” said Tuchel.

Veteran forward Thomas Muller is in the final year of his contract and has seen reduced playing time this season but the 34-year-old has stressed he wants to continue playing next season.

Bayern are understood to want to keep Muller but they have yet to come to an agreement.

“We want him in the team. It’s clear he wants to keep playing. He’s a footballer through and through. Why shouldn’t he keep playing at the very highest level?” said Tuchel.

“I have a very positive impression of him. He’s in top shape and it’s all good. Thomas is a club icon, a living legend. He gets the maximum respect from us.”

Harry Kane continued his prolific start to life at Bayern Munich with a brace as the reigning Bundesliga champions held off a fightback from newcomers Heidenheim to claim a 4-2 victory.

Kane put Bayern in charge with two first-half goals – taking his tally to 21 in all competitions for the German giants – but the visitors threatened to stage a stunning upset as Tim Kleindienst and Jan-Niklas Beste struck within three minutes of each other after the break to draw level.

The drama continued as the hosts quickly regained their lead just minutes later through Raphael Guerreiro before Maxim Choupo-Moting’s header sealed victory for Thomas Tuchel’s men.

The three points sends Bayern top of the Bundesliga, one point ahead of Bayer Leverkusen who face Union Berlin on Sunday.

Bayern’s first chance came in the opening minutes following a Leroy Sane free-kick, which found Dayot Upamecano but the defender’s header flew wide and Sane went close himself just minutes later when his volley was blocked.

Kane’s impressive form continued as he put the hosts ahead in the 14th minute after Sane sprinted down the right flank to find the England captain in the box and he turned to fire into the corner.

Heidenheim had a chance to level moments later when Kleindienst smashed the ball wide and Sane nearly doubled the lead at the other end after being threaded through by Kane, but his effort flew wide.

Beste did well to cut in from the left but was unable to trouble the Bayern defence when his shot missed the target before Bouna Sarr had an excellent chance for the hosts saved by Kevin Muller.

Sane and Kane’s fantastic partnership struck again in the 44th minute as the winger’s corner picked out Kane in the box and he rose highest to head home into the top corner, earning his 17th league goal of the season.

Kane nearly claimed a third successive Bundesliga hat-trick in the 58th minute after Sane played him through but Muller did well to block the shot with his leg.

With Bayern seemingly well on course for victory, Heidenheim suddenly mounted a quick comeback with two goals in three minutes.

They pulled one back in the 67th minute on the break when Eren Dinkci picked out Kleindienst at the back post and he made no mistake this time.

The promoted side then equalised when a mistake from Bayern defender Kim Min-jae saw Beste pounce on a loose pass to fire over Manuel Neuer, but the frantic action continued as Bayern retook the lead two minutes later.

A brilliant cross by Konrad Laimer found Choupo-Moting and, although Muller reacted well to save his effort, Guerreiro raced onto the rebound to blast the ball into the bottom corner, scoring his first Bayern goal.

On the hunt for another treble, Kane fired over the bar before having an effort blocked but an unmarked Choupo-Moting put the game to bed in the 85th minute, nodding the ball into the bottom corner.

Bayern Munich have said Moroccan defender Noussair Mazraoui will remain part of the squad after holding talks with him over a social media post linked to the violence in Israel and Gaza.

Mazraoui, who is currently sidelined with injury, has given the club “credible assurances” that he rejects terrorism and war, Bayern chief executive Jan-Christian Dreesen said on Friday.

The talks with Mazraoui followed an Instagram post on his account which featured a voiceover saying: “God, help our oppressed brothers in Palestine to achieve victory. May God give mercy to the dead, may God heal their wounded.”

Israel has launched airstrikes in Gaza following attacks on its citizens by Hamas militants which began on October 7.

Mazraoui issued a statement via the club on Friday which read: “I condemn all terrorism and terrorist organisations.”

Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel said: “I’m pleased about the clear statement that the club has given. It was important that the club and Jan-Christian Dreesen gave the statement because the issue goes far beyond sport.

“Obviously I’ve spoken with ‘Nouz’ (Mazraoui). A changing room is always a place where you work towards a common goal peacefully, in a friendly way and with camaraderie. I have big trust in the team, in the impact of the changing room. We know that you can overcome tough circumstances together.”

Tuchel said the players and coaching staff were also trying their hardest to support Israeli goalkeeper Daniel Peretz.

“It’s tough for me to put myself in his place. We’re trying to stand alongside him,” the former Chelsea boss said.

“We don’t have a healing world in the changing room but it has a healing effect. We need to ask Daniel how he’s doing. It’s a really sensitive topic, especially for Daniel, whose family are directly affected. We’ll look after him.”

Bayern resume their Bundesliga campaign after the international break with an away trip to Mainz on Saturday evening.

The Bavarian club are third, two points behind league leaders Bayer Leverkusen after seven matches.

Bayern have Manuel Neuer back in training but Tuchel confirmed Sven Ulreich would be in goal against Mainz, and most likely for the Galatasaray match in the Champions League on Tuesday.

He also revealed Matthijs de Ligt and Kim Min-jae were set to be his centre-back pairing at Mainz.

Tuchel confirmed Serge Gnabry, Dayot Upamecano and Raphael Guerreiro were all unavailable, with Leon Goretzka still a doubt. He also admitted it was looking “tight” as to whether Joshua Kimmich would play, having returned to training.

Asked about the threat posed by his former club Mainz, Tuchel said: “They love the role of the underdog. They’ve cultivated it.

“It’s a strength of theirs, especially at times when things aren’t going well. It’s something we need to face up against. We were in good form, had one of our best games against Freiburg.

“Now we’ve had an international break and are training again for the first time with the whole team today, but there are different situations.

“I’m pleased we’re playing at 6.30pm. It’s not just about our play but also how we play physically. We’re expecting a lot of long balls, lots of battling for the second balls. I’m well aware of what’s coming our way.”

Mainz sit second-bottom in the standings with just two points from their opening seven matches.

Bayern Munich boss Thomas Tuchel is expecting the unexpected when his side returns to Bundesliga action on Sunday against Freiburg.

Bayern sit third in the table, unbeaten in their opening six matches, but had to fight back from 2-0 down to salvage a point in last week’s 2-2 draw at Leipzig.

Tuchel’s side also came from behind in midweek to win 2-1 in Copenhagen and make it two wins from two Champions League group matches.

After quickly refocusing on this weekend’s domestic challenge, Tuchel told a press conference: “We really want to get all three points, but we know how difficult it will be, so we’ll have to show up on Sunday.

“Freiburg change their system a lot and I’m 100 per cent sure that they’ll do everything possible to make our lives difficult. We’ll have to be ready for that.”

Freiburg have not beaten Bayern in the Bundesliga in 14 attempts – their last win being in 2015 – but they knocked Tuchel’s side out of the DFB Cup last season.

Lucas Holer scored a 95th-minute penalty as Freiburg came from behind to win the quarter-final tie 2-1 in Tuchel’s second game in charge of Bayern.

The Bavarians’ last three matches have all been on the road and Tuchel admitted after Tuesday night’s win in Denmark that the travel had taken its toll.

“It was a long journey, which the boys are feeling the effects of,” he said. “We’ve played a lot of away games recently.”

Tuchel confirmed Matthijs de Ligt has still not recovered from the knee injury sustained in last month’s 7-0 home win against Bochum, but Raphael Guerreiro was back in training.

The Portugal midfielder has been sidelined since injuring his calf during pre-season.

“Unfortunately, Matthijs de Ligt has not made as quick a recovery as we had hoped for. Dayot Upamecano and Kim (Min-jae) are fit to play,” Tuchel added.

Freiburg, whose cup success at the Allianz Arena last season was their only win against Bayern in Munich, will be without suspended midfielder Nicolas Hofler.

Michael Gregoritsch and Yannik Keitel both missed Freiburg’s 2-1 home Europa League defeat to West Ham on Thursday and remain doubtful.

Bayern Munich coach Thomas Tuchel says Saturday’s opponents RB Leipzig are a “dangerous” proposition for his team.

Leipzig have won their last two encounters with Bayern, including the season-opening DFL-Supercup last month.

Tuchel’s men have recovered well to lead the Bundesliga with 13 points from their opening five matches, with England striker Harry Kane’s seven goals spurring them on.

Leipzig sit a point and three places further back, but the trip to Saxony will arguably present the toughest challenge yet to Bayern in this season’s Bundesliga campaign.

“They’re dangerous as a collective, very unified as a team,” Tuchel said of Leipzig at his pre-match press conference.

“Leipzig are very clear in their processes, we fully recognise their qualities.

“We’ve lost our last two games against them, which hurt. We’ve been on a good run since the Supercup defeat, and now it’s about backing that up.

“The mood is good, the mentality is right. The time has come to turn the tables, but it will certainly be difficult.

“We’ve been very focused and confident in the last few games. Now it’s another step up. Leipzig have a very strong squad.

“They’ve managed changes well. They’ve beaten us recently, which we don’t like.

“It’s about coming up with a response and continuing from where we’ve left off recently. We know it’s a difficult task, but we’re confident enough to say we’re going to Leipzig to win.”

Bayern are set to be able to call on former Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano, along with fellow defender Kim Min-Jae and attacker Thomas Muller after they trained with no adverse effects this week following injuries.

Forward Serge Gnabry is set to miss out with an arm injury, while Dutch defender Matthijs De Ligt suffered a knee injury in the 7-0 victory over Bochum last weekend and is also expected to be out.

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer returned to partial training for the first time this week since his leg fracture in a skiing accident last winter, but is still some way off making a return to playing.

Tuchel added on Neuer: “It’s very good news. Manu did a partial integration. It wasn’t an intense session and he did parts of it. We mustn’t get carried away. It’s another step.

“Once he’s fully in training things can progress quickly, but he’s still some way off that.”

Amadou Haidara has trained following a muscle injury to be available for Leipzig, but Timo Werner will miss out due to a back problem.

Willi Orban and Dani Olmo are absent due to injuries suffered on international duty, while El Chadaille Bitshiabu is still sidelined by a medial ligament tear.

Mauricio Pochettino thinks the 18 months he spent in charge of Paris St Germain kitted him out to tackle the complicated task of turning Chelsea’s fortunes around.

Under the Argentinian, PSG were crowned Ligue 1 champions in 2022 having missed out to Lille the previous campaign after he had replaced the sacked Thomas Tuchel mid-season.

Crucially he failed to land the club’s Qatari owners the prize they most coveted, the Champions League, losing in the semi-final to Manchester City in 2021 and to Real Madrid in the last-16 the following year.

It was reported that Pochettino never felt that he enjoyed full authority over the club’s star-studded squad, and was kept by the hierarchy from reining in the erratic behaviour of certain big-name players.

He left in the summer of 2022 and did not work in football again until accepting the job of piecing together Chelsea owner Todd Boehly’s expensively assembled side in June.

He said the experience of managing in the famously chaotic environment of the French champions helped him as a coach, but acknowledged that the challenge he faces at Stamford Bridge is of a different order.

“I think it helps,” said Pochettino. “It helps to take things in a different way. Of course, experience is a really important point in football, in how you are going to deal with things.

“It would be arrogant to say that because I was there, now I can manage everything. The demands always are completely different.

“But when you add experience and experience of different clubs, different countries, different cultures, I think it gives us the capacity as a coaching staff to help in a better way the players and then the club that wants to develop some new ideas or new projects, like we are now doing.”

Chelsea face Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on Sunday when Pochettino will come up against another coach who knows intimately the unique demands of life at PSG, Unai Emery.

Emery managed the club for two seasons between 2016-18, winning the title in his second year but joining the list of coaches unable to fulfil the club’s frustrated Champions League ambitions, twice going out in the last 16.

He returned Villa to Europe for the first time in 12 years last season, finishing seventh in the Premier League after taking over from Steven Gerrard in October.

“For myself and for Unai, (the job) is not to prove anything,” said Pochettino. “I think it is to try to help (our) clubs to achieve what the clubs want. I never feel that I need to prove something.

“We (Pochettino and assistant Jesus Perez) arrived at PSG and in one year and a half we won three (trophies). We proved that we can win.

“But you can win with a team that normally wins when you are in a project ready to win. In that case, Unai and myself are building something. He is building at Aston Villa a very nice project, and we are starting to build a very good project for the long-term at Chelsea.

“I think it’s not easy to win with PSG, it’s not easy to win with different clubs. We need to give the credit for the coaches and players that win with different teams, because for different reasons, you feel the pressure in a club like PSG. You cannot (have) any excuses.

“But the Premier League is the most important competition and the most competitive, and if you can win here, I think the feeling for sure that the credit is bigger.”

Harry Kane scored and assisted for Bayern on his Bundesliga debut against Werder Bremen in a 4-0 victory.

Bayern’s record signing shone under the lights at Weserstadion as Thomas Tuchel’s men claimed all three points in their opening league game of the 2023-24 campaign.

Leroy Sane was sent through by Kane before neatly finishing with his right foot after four minutes to give the champions a 1-0 lead.


And a bursting run down the left channel by Alphonso Davies resulted in the left-back picking out Kane, who timed his run into the box perfectly before finding the bottom corner after 74 minutes to give his new side a 2-0 advantage.

Sane and Mathys Tel both got on the scoresheet in added time to confirm a
4-0 victory for Bayern on the road.

Villarreal showcased a convincing performance when they beat Mallorca 1-0 away from home to make up for last week’s opening day 3-2 defeat to Real Betis.

The 2021 Europa League winners stifled their opposition with 61 per cent possession before prolific goalscorer Gerard Moreno’s 62nd minute strike gave his side their first points of the season.

Metz held Marseille to a 2-2 draw at home having gone down to 10 men in the second half.

Emran Soglo opened the scoring after 14 minutes when he squeezed the ball inside the near post after receiving a neat pass from new signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Aboubacar Lo was sent off after 59 minutes for Metz but the home side responded with goals from Cheikh Sabaly and Georges Mikautadze to give them a 2-1 advantage.

However, Vitinha salvaged a point for Marseille and more than nine minutes of added time failed to produce a winner.

Bayern Munich head coach Thomas Tuchel has no doubt Harry Kane will handle the scrutiny in Germany and believes he is already “inspiring” his team-mates ahead of Friday’s Bundesliga opener at Werder Bremen.

Kane’s debut off the bench last Saturday failed to go to plan and his wait for a first trophy goes on after RB Leipzig inflicted a 3-0 defeat on Bayern in the DFL-Supercup.

Tuchel, who was critical of his squad after the match, confirmed Kane, who signed last weekend from Tottenham for an initial £100million, would start Friday’s fixture.

He told a press conference: “I don’t think it is going to be the first time in his career (he has been under pressure), so that is why he will learn to transfer the pressure into performance and stay relaxed.

“It is not about life or death. It is a game, a competitive game and he has proved for about 10 years how he does it, so I am not worried about Harry.

“The Harry Kane effect will not be gone (if we lose). It is the way he works in training, in the locker room, his professionalism, the way he goes about things and how humble he is in training, how keen he is in training.

“The way he acts after such a game, after a loss, he is the first on the training pitch, he works with the reserve players, he is the one walking ahead who is inspiring others. That is what makes that transfer fee (worthwhile), not only his goal-scoring record but all the other things as well.

“That is what really makes him a big star and all the other personalities in sport as well, so that is the Harry Kane effect and why he raises our chances of winning tomorrow massively.

“Obviously we won’t win every game just because he is there and, even when the Harry Kane effect is there in full effect, it still doesn’t mean we’ll win every game, but that is why I was fighting for him to come here. As far as all the things I have seen, I really feel that it was worth it.”

 

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Tuchel faced repeated questions on Thursday about the public dressing down of his players in the wake of their defeat to Leipzig.

He called on the squad to learn from Kane and his attitude after a tumultuous five months since his March appointment, with Tuchel losing more games than predecessor Julian Nagelsmann last season.

“I understand this criticism was received as tough criticism, but I was honest. I was talking about the way I feel and my disappointment was really big,” Tuchel said.

“After losing 3-0 it doesn’t matter what I say ,because it would go in all directions anyway. I don’t know what to say in order to please everybody and I don’t know whether I want that.

“I try to be authentic and that is what I was. Maybe it wasn’t the most diplomatic way to go about things, but if I tried to be diplomatic people would have asked, ‘Was he at the right game?’

“I take it personally losing. I wish we all go about things this way and be more resilient.”

Tuchel will soon be boosted by the return of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who recently had a second operation after suffering a broken leg while skiing last December.

Thomas Muller and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting will be part of Friday’s squad, but Bouna Sarr, Noussair Mazraoui and Serge Gnabry will need to be checked on.

Tuchel added: “The small operation performed on Manuel worked and the prognosis is he will be back in (team) training in a shorter period of time than we thought so it is generally positive.

“The past couple of days I saw him in training and I am not a rehab expert, but what I saw was really impressive and looked really good.

“I think he will be back in team training in the next couple of weeks.”

In 2000, it was Bayer Leverkusen who suffered final-day heartbreak as Bayern Munich overhauled them to clinch one of their most dramatic Bundesliga title triumphs.

This time around, it was Borussia Dortmund's turn to lament the most galling of near misses, while their rivals lifted the Meisterschale following Jamal Musiala's late winner at Koln.

The most topsy-turvy title race in Europe's top-five leagues this campaign, therefore, ended in familiar fashion, with Bayern maintaining their stranglehold on the German crown.

After Bayern overcame a stern Dortmund challenge to win their 11th consecutive Bundesliga title, Stats Perform looks at the best facts and figures to emerge from their triumphant campaign.

The headline stats

There has never been much doubt regarding Bayern's status as the dominant force in Germany. Their latest title win represents their 33rd overall, and their 32nd since the Bundesliga was founded in 1963. Combined, all other clubs in Bundesliga history have 28.

Meanwhile, Bayern's current streak of 11 consecutive domestic titles is the longest such run in the history of Europe's top five leagues.

However, as the decision to dispense with Julian Nagelsmann's services and bring in Thomas Tuchel in March would suggest, this has not been a vintage campaign for Bayern.

Having edged out Dortmund on goal difference after both teams finished with 71 points, Bayern's class of 2022-23 collected the fewest points of any Bundesliga-winning team since 2009-10, when Die Roten were crowned champions with 70.

Bayern's tally of 21 victories this term was actually bettered by Dortmund (22), who became just the second team in the three-points-for-a-win era to boast the most wins in a Bundesliga season and not win the title (after Leverkusen in 1996-97).

Tuchel takes the prize

While Tuchel's Bayern did not get close to the incredible point tallies recorded under Jupp Heynckes, Pep Guardiola or Carlo Ancelotti, the new boss did enough, rallying his team to collect 12 from their final five matches and pip his former employers at the last.

Tuchel became only the second coach to take over a Bundesliga club during the second half of a season and lead them to the title, after the legendary Franz Beckenbauer did so with Bayern in 1993-94.

While Beckenbauer took the reins from matchday 21 of that campaign, Tuchel did so from matchday 26 this term, making it the latest managerial change from a Bundesliga-winning team.

Muller extends his record, Musiala the main man

Bayern's last-gasp triumph also ensured several key players kept up their own incredible records of domestic success.

While attacking stalwart Thomas Muller won a record-extending 12th German title, Kingsley Coman – who opened the scoring in Bayern's final-day win at Koln – preserved his record of finishing every season of his professional career as a domestic champion.

Having won Ligue 1 twice with Paris Saint-Germain and Serie A as a Juventus player in 2014-15, Coman has now lifted the Meisterschale eight times during his spell in Bavaria.

Those records, however, owe everything to Musiala's intervention against Koln, with the 20-year-old stepping off the bench to fire into the bottom-right corner as stoppage time loomed.

That strike was his 12th of the Bundesliga campaign, one more than he had managed in 57 combined appearances in the competition before this season.

It was a fitting way for Musiala to cap a season in which only Eintracht Frankfurt's Randal Kolo Muani (26) bettered his tally of 22 Bundesliga goal contributions.

Jamal Musiala's 89th-minute strike saw Bayern Munich win 2-1 at Koln and snatch the Bundesliga title from Borussia Dortmund in stunning fashion on Saturday.

A shock 3-1 loss at home to RB Leipzig last weekend meant Bayern needed a win against Koln – combined with Dortmund failing to beat mid-table Mainz – to retain the trophy.

Despite BVB drawing 2-2 with Mainz, the title looked to be on its way to Dortmund after Dejan Ljubicic's 81st-minute penalty cancelled out Kingsley Coman's brilliant opener for Bayern.

However, Musiala found the bottom corner with a terrific effort as stoppage time loomed, sealing Bayern's 11th straight Bundesliga crown in a dramatic ending to an enthralling title race.

Bayern Munich relinquished control of the Bundesliga title race as they collapsed to a 3-1 defeat to RB Leipzig at the Allianz Arena.

The reigning champions had their destiny in their own hands when Serge Gnabry fired them ahead on Saturday, but a terrific counter-attack saw Konrad Laimer level things up in the second half.

A pair of late penalties then stunned Bayern, Christopher Nkunku converting after being tripped by Benjamin Pavard and Dominik Szoboszlai doing likewise following Noussair Mazraoui's handball.

Bayern now need Borussia Dortmund to slip up in one of their remaining games – at Augsburg on Sunday and against Mainz next Saturday – to have any chance of claiming an 11th consecutive title.  

Bayern Munich stretched their lead at the Bundesliga summit to four points as goals from Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane clinched a 2-1 win over a stubborn Werder Bremen.

Having taken advantage of Borussia Dortmund's slip-up at Bochum to go top last week, Bayern knew an 11th consecutive league title is now in their hands as they travelled to the Weserstadion on Saturday.

Thomas Tuchel's stuttering start at Bayern looked set to continue as Werder held firm for over an hour, but Gnabry's close-range finish broke the hosts' resistance before Sane capped a flowing move to make it 2-0.

Though Niklas Schmidt's stunning strike ensured a nervous finish, Bayern clung on to pile the pressure on Dortmund ahead of their meeting with Wolfsburg on Sunday.

Jiri Pavlenka smothered Gnabry's shot from a tight angle early on before making an even better save 20 minutes in, blocking Benjamin Pavard's powerful close-range header.

Werder threatened on the break as Mitchell Weiser went close to converting Romano Schmid's cross, while Christian Gross fired over at the end of a mazy run.

Gnabry misjudged an overhead kick as Bayern's pressure mounted after the restart, and then teed up Sadio Mane to side-foot narrowly wide.

It was Gnabry who made the breakthrough just as Bayern seemed to be running out of ideas. The Germany international lost his marker to sweep home from close range after Jamal Musiala's shot deflected into his path.

Bayern extended their lead 10 minutes later as substitute Sane slotted into the bottom-left corner.

There was a tense finish to come as Schmidt found the top-right corner from long range, but Bayern stood firm to take a huge step towards retaining their title.

Thomas Tuchel admitted Bayern Munich have reached the point where "nothing is easy" as he demanded his faltering team show a reaction to losing top spot in the Bundesliga.

Tuchel was undecided about whether to tune in for Borussia Dortmund's clash with Bochum on Friday, knowing a Dortmund win would lift them four points clear of Bayern.

This weekend sees Bayern have to wait until Sunday for their turn, as they host Hertha Berlin. After that, both they and Dortmund will have four rounds of games remaining.

The clock is ticking, and Bayern's 10-in-a-row title run is under serious threat following a damaging 3-1 defeat to Mainz last weekend.

Head coach Tuchel has injuries to contend with too. Centre-back Dayot Upamecano will miss the Hertha game due to a thigh strain and faces a fortnight on the sidelines, with striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and wing-back Alphonso Davies also set to be absent.

"I don't even know if I'm watching Dortmund," Tuchel said. "For us, the starting position is clear: we no longer have it in our own hands, and now we have to get 15 points.

"We have to improve. It's not too late to show a reaction. We need them right away on Sunday. More than ever, it's all about us. We have to deliver and then hope that's enough."

Hertha, who sit bottom of the Bundesliga, recently brought in Pal Dardai to replace coach Sandro Schwarz, and for that reason, Tuchel described the strugglers as an "unpredictable" prospect.

"That's why we have one more reason to focus completely on ourselves. Nothing is easy for us at the moment," Tuchel said. "The situation is crystal clear. We have to deliver."

Former Chelsea, Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain boss Tuchel has experienced a turbulent start to his Bayern reign, since being appointed on March 25, overseeing exits from the DFB-Pokal and Champions League.

Should Bayern also fail to land the league title that has been their preserve for the last decade, it would compound this season's woes.

A draw against Hoffenheim in mid-April was another damaging result, and Bayern cannot afford to fluff their lines this weekend.

"We are very honest with each other, very critical," Tuchel said. "The team know my opinion on the Mainz game.

"In sport there is always the opportunity to make amends. In the last two games we lost points after taking the lead. That's very atypical for us.

"Honesty and openness is the best form of interaction. We've shown that we can do it. It's more the consistency that we lack."

Chelsea are reportedly investigating a potential transfer for Sadio Mane after the forward's highly publicised bust-up with Bayern Munich team-mate Leroy Sane.

Mane, 31, won the Premier League and Champions League with Liverpool before joining Bayern in a £27million (€32m) transfer in June.

His first season in Germany has resulted in 10 goals and five assists in his 30 combined appearances in the Bundesliga and Champions League, making 22 starts.

While he has been far from a disappointment, his future at the club is now up in the air after a widely reported incident where he punched his team-mate after a 3-0 Champions League defeat against Manchester City.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA TO OFFER MANE A RETURN TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE

According to Football Insider, Sadio Mane "is now believed to be on the radar of Chelsea", and the Stamford Bridge club are now "ready to consider a shock move".

The report states Bayern will only be looking to recoup the majority of the fee they paid for the Senegalese star, and would provide a far cheaper alternative to Napoli's 24-year-old sensation Victor Osimhen.

It also adds that Mane's former club Liverpool have no interest in bringing him back to Anfield.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Telegraph is reporting that West Ham's 24-year-old midfielder Declan Rice is Arsenal's top priority in the next transfer window.

Aston Villa are planning a bid for 27-year-old Brentford striker Ivan Toney, who also has interest from Manchester United, per Football Insider.

– According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Milan would like to secure 30-year-old Atletico Madrid striker Alvaro Morata as a replacement for injury-prone veteran Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

– Former Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel wants to reunite with 28-year-old midfielder Mateo Kovacic at Bayern Munich, per Sport1.

What the papers say

Liverpool are hoping to sign Manchester City “outcast” Kalvin Phillips in a £35m deal this summer, the Daily Star says. Jurgen Klopp targeted the 27-year-old midfielder after being priced out of a move for Jude Bellingham.

Elsewhere, the Daily Telegraph reports Romelu Lukaku will be asked whether or not he wants to try to revive his Chelsea career under proposed permanent head coach Mauricio Pochettino. The 29-year-old striker has spent the season on loan at Inter Milan after making it clear that he no longer wanted to play for former head coach Thomas Tuchel.

In more Blues news, the Evening Standard says Frank Lampard will make himself available as a sounding board for Pochettino to help ensure a smooth transition. The former Tottenham manager is due to take over at the end of the season.

And according to The Sun, Eddie Howe will have up to £150million to bolster his Newcastle squad this summer. The Magpies are laying plans to prepare their squad for a Champions League campaign next season and are willing to spend between £100-150million.

Social media round-up

Top four = big spending for Howe this summer. And he has targets ? ? https://t.co/vjUB6mcTgt

— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) April 26, 2023

Lampard on Mount: “New deal for him? Not my opinion. It will be the opinion of the club and the opinion of Mason, so that's between them”. ?⭐️ #CFC

“There’s no doubt, he’s top-class player. Trust me, it’s not easy to play with top players around and he’s managed to do that”. pic.twitter.com/oczA2DJdny

— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) April 25, 2023

Players to watch

Lionel Messi: 90min says Barcelona are “leaving no stone unturned” in their bid to re-sign the 35-year-old Argentina forward from Paris St-Germain but a deal will not be straightforward.

Andre Onana: Italian outlet Gazzetta dello Sport reports Chelsea are interested in signing the 27-year-old Cameroon goalkeeper from Inter Milan and could use Kepa Arrizabalaga, 28, as part of the deal.

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