Sixth in the Bundesliga standings, four points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund after seven matches, and winless in their last four in all competitions - you'd be forgiven for thinking Bayern Munich are in crisis. And yet no one at the home of the record champions is panicking. bundesliga.com presents five reasons as to why…
1) They've been here before
Remember when Bayern trailed Dortmund by five points at this stage last season? Remember how they went on to defend their title at a canter, finishing some 21 points clear of nearest pursuers Schalke? Exactly. It wasn't the first time the big red machine have ruthlessly turned a deficit into a title win either. In 2009/10, Bayern were down in seventh, six points off the pace after seven rounds of fixtures. In 2004/05, they trailed VfB Stuttgart by four. Each time, they roared back like only they know how, with five- and 14-point winning margins respectively, to claim German football’s top prize. Don't whisper it quietly, because chances are Bayern's mini malaise is just a blip on the road to domination.
The table after Matchday 7 - happy or sad with your team's position? 😃😠 pic.twitter.com/d2tg79Oqxl— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) October 7, 2018
2) Lewandowski is still warming up
As well as total points, Bayern are way off the pace in terms of goals scored. Dortmund lead the way on 23, followed by RB Leipzig (16), Borussia Mönchengladbach (15) and Werder Bremen (13) in league places two through four. Bayern are next up, one of three sides on 12, which is two fewer than an Augsburg side stationed in mid-table. It doesn't help that Robert Lewandowski - top scorer in each of the past two campaigns - has only managed three goals in six appearances. Rested in the 1-1 draw with Augsburg and starved of chances in back-to-back defeats against Hertha and Gladbach, it’s the ninth time in his Bayern career the Pole has gone two or more Bundesliga games without finding the net. His longest barren run to date stands at five matches, but he still ended that particular campaign with 29 Bundesliga goals. So whether it's in Wolfsburg this weekend or in a fortnight's time, the dam will burst. God help the opposition, when it does.
Watch: Find out what makes Robert Lewandowski so special
3) Teething problems are completely normal
Bayern's autumn dip should also be put into the context of their flawless start to 2018/19. The defending champions flew out of the traps under new coach Niko Kovac, breezing past Hoffenheim, Stuttgart, Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke, as well as picking up wins in the Supercup, DFB Cup first round and UEFA Champions League. At times, they looked untouchable, but everyone knows the honeymoon period can't last forever. The onus is now on Kovac to rekindle the spark and get Bayern firing on all cylinders once again. A former Bayern player, he knows all about the pressures of working for Germany's most successful club - it's one of the reasons he was hand-picked to replace Jupp Heynckes in the first place. And if he can transform an Eintracht Frankfurt team threatened with relegation into top-six contenders and DFB Cup winners, imagine what he'll be able to do with an all-star Bayern ensemble in time.
4) James and Co. are born winners
You only have to look at the players Kovac has at his disposal to know that Bayern won't be down for long. Yes, they're not playing to their usual golden standard as a unit, but proven champions of the ilk of David Alaba, Joshua Kimmich, Thomas Müller, Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, James Rodriguez and Lewandowski don't suddenly lose their will to win or forget how to scare the life out of opposition defenders overnight. Every single member of the current Bayern squad has champion spirit coursing through their veins, and there isn't a single one of them who, on their day, would look out of place in an all-time World XI. Throw relative young bucks Niklas Süle, Serge Gnabry, Leon Goretzka and Renato Sanches into the mix, and it's pretty clear Bayern are the best equipped to last the course.
Watch: Bayern Munich's class of 2018/19 hungry for more
5) Comeback kids in the wings
Adding to Bayern's embarrassment of riches, France duo Kingsley Coman and Corentin Tolisso will effectively be like new signings by the time they return from respective ankle and knee ligament tears in 2019. Coman was nearing his best form on the Bayern flanks when injury struck on Matchday 1, while FIFA World Cup winner Tolisso had just brought up his fifth goal in his last nine Bundesliga outings with the equaliser in the Matchday 3 win over Leverkusen. Should Bayern find themselves in the unfamiliar position of being anything but top of the tree at Christmas, they could hardly wish for two more game-changing saviours. Better make that three. Alphonso Davies, the Canadian wonderkid making waves in the MLS, is also due to land in Munich in January. Enjoy the Dortmund show while it lasts…