Bayern suffer early exit in CL quarterfinals

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Bayern suffer early exit in CL quarterfinals

Bayern Munich suffered an early exit in the Champions League quarterfinals against Villarreal. Upsets have been a recurring theme in Julian Nagelsmann’s first season in charge and he admits expectations haven't been met.

"Villarreal made one mistake in the first leg because they left us alive in a sporting sense by scoring just once and we have every intention of punishing that."

Julian Nagelsmann's pre-match statement proved to be one the preceded unfortunate events as Bayern Munich were knocked out of the Champions League in their make-or-break second leg against the Spanish side. The exit from Europe’s biggest stage another blemish on his debut season in charge.

"This isn't my first important job, I’ve had other important roles before this," said the 34-year-old to Amazon Prime after the 2-1 aggregate loss. "Other people can draw conclusions about this season, when you lose and get knocked out that’s how it is. But I’m not scared, there are a lot worse things in life."

Bumps in the road

Post-match quips aside, upsets have been a recurring theme in Nagelsmann’s first year on the Bayern hot seat following his €25 million move from Leipzig. Losses to the likes of Frankfurt, Augsburg and Leverkusen may have seen them stumble in the Bundesliga had Borussia Dortmund managed to fashion any semblance of consistency.

Their German Cup campaign was ended as early as the second round by Borussia Mönchengladbach, who handed them they type of 5-0 thrashing the German record titleholders are no strangers to dishing out themselves.

As a result, with their Champions League hopes on the line, the second leg with Villarreal proved to be a season-defining encounter for the 34-year-old. And at a time when the five-time European champions haven’t been at the peak of their powers.

"If I’m honest it’s hard to get to grips with. We went through a phase like this before Christmas as well where we were playing well despite a lot of personnel issues, but there was still a little dip in form," Nagelsmann told Amazon Prime before kick-off.

"Now we’ve had another phase like this. Against Augsburg we made life hard for ourselves, while the loss to Villarreal was really poor. It’s hard to know 100% what it comes down to, it’s always a mix of things."

Missing that winning feeling

On 10 previous occasions in UEFA competition, Bayern had recovered from an away first-leg defeat to win the tie and Nagelsmann needed to tap into the winning gene that defines both the club and the current crop of players. It’s one he’s been brought in to nurture, but that has looked depleted in recent weeks.

At a time when other European heavyweights have been hitting their prime this season, the squad who poured their fighting spirit into a Hansi Flick era that produced seven titles, have been grinding more than thriving.

Der Klassiker is two weeks away and, despite the dip in form, Dortmund may face the humiliation of seeing Bayern crowned champions come the full-time whistle after wasting chances to do damage to their campaign – Villarreal didn’t make the same mistake.

"It's tough to accept we conceded despite this performance," said Thomas Müller. "We were engaged, we had a good game and, with the fans behind us, we pushed and pushed and pushed. Conceding didn't even seem like a remote possibility. It's hard to process a loss like this."

A statement in keeping with a Bayern side that haven’t been forced to peak domestically at the stage of the season that the continental circuit demands it. This isn’t a first for Bayern in the last decade, but unlike Flick, his successor hasn’t been able to force them to either.

"The Champions League semifinal is always the minimum goal and we didn't manage to achieve that – only winning the league title is not enough for FC Bayern," admitted Nagelsmann.

Jupp Heynckes was the last head coach who failed to deliver a single piece of silverware at Bayern back in the 2011/12 campaign. But the making of Heynckes’ was his ability to channel disappointment into the club’s first ever treble win. A source of inspiration for Nagelsmann perhaps as he faces a stern test of his coaching credentials in light of underperforming to Bayern’s lofty expectations in his first season in charge.

Bayern suffer early exit in CL quarterfinals

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