Football: Bayern shift focus to domestic title despite mounting injuries
After their stinging defeat to Paris St Germain in the Champions League, Bayern Munich must quickly shift focus to protecting their seven-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga with Union Berlin set to visit the reeling Bavarians on Saturday (Apr 10).
Already missing top striker Robert Lewandowski and Marc Roca due to injury, and with Serge Gnabry quarantined due to COVID-19, Bayern are also likely to be without defender Niklas Suele and midfielder Leon Goretzka, who were taken off in their 3-2 quarter-final first-leg loss to PSG on Wednesday.
"We assume that they will not be with us for the weekend," Coach Hansi Flick said of Suele and Goretzka. "I do not know how things look for next week."
The Bavarians are not only battling injuries but also dealing with internal differences over the departure of defender Jerome Boateng at the end of the season, as well as speculation over Flick's own future at the club.
Flick has spoken in favour of keeping Boateng but club sports director Hasan Salihamidzic announced prior to Wednesday's game he would not be given a new contract.
"I will not answer that question," Flick snapped when asked about Boateng's impending departure.
Flick's future at Bayern could be heavily influenced by his relationship with Salihamidzic, a powerful figure within the club hierarchy, particularly with the German national team job up for grabs after the Euro 2020 this summer.
Flick, a former assistant coach with the national side, has a contract with Bayern to 2023 but he is being seen as one of the frontrunners for the Germany job and has yet to shoot down speculation his future could lie elsewhere.
With the Champions League return leg in Paris next week potentially ending their hopes of retaining their European crown, the Bundesliga looks like their best chance for silverware this season.
Seven points clear of RB Leipzig with seven games remaining, a win against Union would settle some nerves and take Bayern another step closer to a ninth successive league crown.