Are Bayern The Weak Links In Celtic’s Champions League Group?

The Champions League group stages are once again upon us.

Scottish Premiership champions Celtic were drawn in Group B with French megastars PSG, Belgian cracks Anderlecht and Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.

In almost any other season Bayern would have been seen as strong favourites to top the group but with Ligue 1 side PSG throwing cash around like it’s confetti many see the Parisian side as the team to beat.

You can see why as Les Rouge-et-Bleu splashed out on world-class talent like Kylian Mbappe and Neymar. Add them to the likes of Edison Cavani and Julian Draxler and you can’t see many sides keeping them quiet this season.

I’ve spoken to a few Celtic fans and they’ve almost dismissed their own teams chances against PSG but they believe that their team can get the better of Bayern Munich. That’s a view that has been backed-up on social media sites, forums and blogs.

Many a Hoops fan looks at this Bayern side and believe that they could be on a decline.

The German side lost 2-0 to Hoffenheim last weekend and that result renewed Celtic supporters optimism they can spring a surprise in Europe’s elite competition.

People also question Bayern’s continued reliance on ageing creative players like Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. How long can these two particular players dig Munich out of trouble?

Then you have Robert Lewandowski. Now the striker is clearly world-class and still has a keen eye for goal (he has three strikes in three league games this term). But the Pole recently seemed to attack the club’s transfer policy:

“Bayern have to think something up and be more creative if the club wants to attract a world-class player to Munich,”

“If you want to play on the front foot, you need the quality players.”

It’s not the first time that Lewandowski has been critical of the club. If he’s disgruntled and annoyed then that could have an impact on his own game and it could cause resentment within the squad, if they believe he’s spoken out of turn. Obviously if he repeatedly comes out with negative comments then rumours will build that the forward wants to leave the Bavarian outfit.

Others have speculated that Die Bayern aren’t as dynamic under Carlo Ancelotti as they were under Pep Guardiola. Some feel he doesn’t get the same intensity from the team. It has lead to talk suggesting that young Hoffenheim boss Julian Nagelsmann could replace the Italian next summer.

It seems as if the pressure may be getting to the fifty-eight year old coach too. So is it all going to pot at the Allianz Arena?

The Hoops do have some positives of their own.

Going forward they have looked sublime so far this term, they also have very strong young stars in Kieran Tierney, Patrick Roberts and Moussa Dembele and new signings Oliver Ntcham and Odsonne Edouard seem to have settled in well. 

They also have Celtic Park. We all know that at Parkhead even the biggest of sides can suffer from an off night as they struggle to deal with the noise that the crowd generate under the lights.

So can they finish above Bayern in this year’s Champions League?

I’m not so sure.

Bayern struggled at times last season as well (October and November spring to mind), yet they still topped the Bundesliga table and were fifteen points clear of second placed RB Leipzig.

They also managed to make it to the quarter finals of last year’s Champions League. They have the experience and the mentality to get themselves through tough times and pick up vital results.

The fact is that Ribery and Robben are still fantastically talented players. They still need to get a fully-fit James Rodriguez into the first eleven. While the likes of Thiago Alcantara and Kinglsey Coman can hurt most sides in Europe on their day. I also like the look of new boy Corentin Tolisso in midfield.

While Lewandowski might be unhappy in Bavaria, he’s still going to score goals when he’s on the park. You also have Thomas Muller in and around the penalty area and the World Cup winner can be lethal when he has the goal in his sights.

You then factor in that Celtic haven’t got the best defence and certainly don’t have strength in depth in that area either. So that could be a huge issue for the Glaswegian giants.

I believe that they should be targeting Bayern Munich and shouldn’t fear the Bundesliga champs but they can’t expect a win by any stretch either. The German champions still have the much stronger squad.

Celtic also can’t overlook the threat Anderlecht could bring to the table either. Those games will be tough and competitive encounters.

It should be an exciting group and tonight’s opening fixtures could give us some insights in what could happen next!

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