'No hiding' for faltering Bayern as leaders Leverkusen threaten to pull away

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'No hiding' for faltering Bayern as leaders Leverkusen threaten to pull away

Bayern Munich striker Harry Kane recognised his team's "really tough week"
Bayern Munich striker Harry Kane recognised his team's "really tough week"AFP
Bayern Munich could be as many as eight points behind league leaders Bayer Leverkusen when they travel to Bochum on Sunday after one of the club's worst weeks in recent memory.

Bayern were outclassed in Saturday's 3-0 loss in Leverkusen, before losing 1-0 to Lazio on Wednesday - their first defeat in an opening leg in the Champions League last 16 since 2012.

Speaking afterwards in Rome on Wednesday, England captain Harry Kane said: "We're in a difficult spell, there's no hiding that."

A "frustrated and angry" Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel said he was "at a loss" to explain the "huge drop in performance" in the second half.

For Bayern fans, the statistics make for sorry reading. Famed for reacting when stung by a poor result, Bayern lost twice in a row for the first time since January 2021.

The German champions were last held scoreless twice in succession in 2015. Against Lazio, Bayern failed to register a shot on goal for the first time since 2019's 0-0 home Champions League draw with Liverpool.

Bayern Munich coach Thomas Tuchel
Bayern Munich coach Thomas TuchelAFP

Bayern have thrashed Bochum 7-0 in three of their past five meetings, but their bid to avoid three straight losses for the first time since 2015 is not as simple as it appears.

Despite sitting in 14th, Bochum have been hard to beat, losing just once at home this season.

Bochum have lost seven times all season, a better record than every team outside the top six, while they have a league-high 10 draws.

With Bayern eliminated from the German Cup by third-tier Saarbrucken, the perennial German champions are staring down a trophyless season for the first time since 2012.

Yet to win a team trophy despite a glittering career, Kane called on his side to put the "really tough week" behind them and "focus on the next challenge".

"(There are) big things to fight for still. We're not out of it. We will never give up.

"One game or one spark can change a lot in football and we need to try and find that...

"We'll push each other in training and on the weekend and try and find it."

Bundesliga table
Bundesliga tableFlashscore

Leverkusen play away at promoted Heidenheim on Saturday - another task less straightforward than it may seem.

Sitting ninth, Heidenheim have had a strong top-flight debut campaign, thanks largely to an excellent home record.

Heidenheim have claimed 18 of their 27 points at the 15,000-capacity Voith Arena, losing just twice all year.

Leverkusen dropping points in Heidenheim could give Bayern a sniff of a chance, which is usually all the 33-time German champions need.

One to watch: Sebastien Haller (Borussia Dortmund)

Borussia Dortmund striker Sebastien Haller returned to Germany on Thursday having won the Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast.

Few footballers have endured a more difficult time than Haller over the past 18 months.

Arriving on a big-money deal from Ajax in the summer of 2022, Haller was diagnosed with testicular cancer and spent six months on the sidelines as he battled the illness.

Ivory Coast forward Sebastien Haller may return for Dortmund in their visit to Wolfsburg on Saturday
Ivory Coast forward Sebastien Haller may return for Dortmund in their visit to Wolfsburg on SaturdayAFP

He returned and played a key role as Dortmund pushed for the title, but missed a penalty in their final-day draw with Mainz, which meant Bayern were champions again.

Haller scored the winners in the semi-final and final as hosts Ivory Coast won the tournament for the third time.

"We know how long his path back to the top was," Dortmund coach Edin Terzic said Thursday, calling Haller a "celebrated hero".

"Although things didn't go well, he stayed positive and was rewarded.

"We're really happy that he's back and we hope he'll bring the momentum from the tournament with him."

Key stats

55 points - Bayer Leverkusen have 55 of a possible 61 points after 21 games. Bayern Munich won the title last season with 71 points in 34 games.

31 goals - Stuttgart forwards Serhou Guirassy and Deniz Undav have a combined 31 goals this season. Besides Stuttgart, only six Bundesliga sides have scored more than 31 goals in total.

One in 17 - Since beating Dortmund 3-1 in the 2015 German Cup with a Kevin De Bruyne masterclass, Wolfsburg have won just one of 17 matches between the sides.

Follow the Bundesliga with Flashscore.

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