There was a time when the sight of Manuel Neuer charging out of his goal was a source of relief for Bayern Munich fans. In his prime, Neuer would never misread the situation.
He would always get to the ball first. Neuer is no longer in his prime. As he lumbered out towards Sadio Mane on Wednesday evening, the Bayern fans feared the worst.
Ahead of the game, Neuer had declared that it was about time Bayern claimed a major scalp in the Champions League. In reality, defeat to Liverpool proved that he and his team are no longer good enough to do so.
It evokes memories of the 2000s and the two successive seasons that England provided four quarter-finalists (along with six finalists in five years and two winners – Liverpool in 2005 and Manchester United in 2008).
The fact is that German football is now only second-rate, grumbled the editorial in Germanys biggest newspaper, Bild, this morning.
It certainly looks that way. Bayerns exit crowned a miserable trilogy of defeats for German sides, all of whom have been outclassed and eliminated by Premier League opponents in the last-16. Now, for the first time since 2006, there will be no Bundesliga team in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Neuers performance, which also saw a nervy double-fisted punch spin off his glove in the second half, brought back memories of Sven Ulreichs high profile Champions League gaffe in the Bernabeu against Real Madrid a little short of a year ago. It also came in front of the watching Joachim Löw, who dared to show his face at the Allianz Arena barely a week after ending the glittering international careers of three Bayern favorites. That bewildering gesture hasnt won Löw any friends in Bavaria, but Neuer can consider himself very lucky not to be among those whose international careers have been halted.
With its fan ownership model and internal competitiveness, the Bundesliga has always suffered from the fact that it has a lot of good teams but no super clubs. Bayern were always the exception that proved the rule, but now they too appear to have dropped out of Europes elite, missing out on the quarter-finals for the first time since 2011.
At the Allianz Arena on Wednesday night, there was the unmistakable sense that this was the end of an era. The brilliant generation of German players who rose at the turn of the decade is finally over the hill.
Rafinha had been eased out of contention a little too easily and there were other Bayern players who could have reacted sooner, but it was ultimately a blunder that handed Liverpool the crucial initiative on their way to a fully deserved 3-1 victory. One which ended Bayerns Champions League hopes at this stage for the first time since 2011.
4 hours ago German press slam Neuer and 'second rate' Bayern Munich after Liverpool shock 324 Shares Marc Mayo The challenges facing German football were laid bare by Sadio Mane and Virgil Van Dijk Bayern Munichs followers were not happy with their limp Champions League exit at the hands of Liverpool on Wednesday night and the German press joined in on slating the Bavarian giants.
Sadio Mane scored twice in a 3-1 win for the Reds at the Allianz Arena having gone into the last 16 second leg as underdogs, such was the impressive feat Bayern had originally achieved by keeping them out in the initial Anfield stalemate.
Sporting newspaper Bild went with the headline “Oh no, Neuer!” after the goalkeepers shocker for Manes opener, rushing out and becoming dumbfounded by the wingers audacity of turning towards goal and shooting.
They defined Bayerns performance as “without courage, without ideas and without pace” while an opinion piece by journalist Matthias Brügelmann accepted that the club “need a radical change”.
Much of the coverage has focused on German footballs problems as a whole, with none of their teams reaching the quarter-finals for the first time in 13 years. Brügelmann states: “The fact is: German football is second-rate internationally.”
Over at Die Welt, the prognosis is similar, with their writer noting that: “The English clubs prove this season that they are far ahead.” They acknowledge that Munich deserved to go out, putting them no longer among “the absolute elite of Europe”, now requiring the “need to change fundamentally”.
Bayern have dominated the Bundesliga over the years and once again top the table this season, albeit by goal difference after an average start, but their hopes of succeeding in Europe rely on a big refresh of the playing squad. Süddeutsche Zeitung note “the big cycle of Bayern is over” after they played “without conviction, without courage”.
Perhaps most cuttingly of all, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung called the club “just a mock giant”. In defeat, “the big Bayern balloon burst, and there was only hot air”. Ouch.
They summarise the game with an anecdote about Oliver Bierhoff, the legendary former striker who now serves as general manager of the German national team. At the start of the game he was pictured in the stands with a Bayern scarf wrapped around his neck. By the time Liverpool were 3-1 ahead, he had binned it off.
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