'FC Hollywood' in danger of producing a turkey

Already written off in the Bundesliga and furious at match-fixing claims, crisis is stalking Bayern Munich
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The Independent Football

Liverpool are not alone in being multi-European Cup winners ailing in their domestic endeavours. Bayern Munich have hit the skids in the Bundesliga and already honorary president Franz Beckenbauer believes it is wishful thinking that the German champions will retain their domestic title.

An injury crisis is at the heart of Bayern's problems, with key absences in every area of Louis van Gaal's team and matters getting worse as players have hobbled back from international duty this week with fresh problems.

But another shadow has been cast across the club known as "FC Hollywood" from unsubstantiated fixing allegations surrounding the 2008 Uefa Cup semi-final second leg against Zenit St Petersburg, which Bayern lost 4-0. Their airing last month caused a bitter falling out between Bayern and Uefa, and while peace has been re-established for now, the matter is not at an end.

Beckenbauer spoke out this week about the Bundesliga form which leaves Bayern – Champions League runners-up in May as well as German champions – lying in 12th place in the table with eight points from seven games. Already they are 13 points off the pace, set by newly-promoted Mainz, who beat the champions 2-1 on Bayern's own turf a few weeks ago. Bayern play at home to Hannover 96 tomorrow.

"Bayern can hardly win the championship any longer but we can still finish between the top three and five," Beckenbauer said. "We have to make sure that the gap doesn't get bigger by the winter break."

He also criticised Van Gaal's style and added: "If you have possession, you should make something out of it. Just pushing the ball around and playing it back to the goalkeeper is surely not the idea of possession."

Bayern's injuries already included Arjen Robben, Franck Ribéry, David Alaba, Diego Contento and Bastian Schweinsteiger before this week. Mark van Bommel, Miroslav Klose and Ivica Olic have now returned from playing for their countries with problems likely to keep them out of action for two or three games, perhaps more.

Klose sustained a hamstring strain in Germany's 3-0 victory win in Kazakhstan; he will miss the Hannover game and next Tuesday's Champions League game at CFR Cluj at least.

Bayern blame Van Bommel's injury, to his right knee, on playing for the Netherlands against Sweden on Tuesday. He will miss two games or more and his condition is fuelling a dispute between club and country.

Bayern wanted Van Bommel to return prior to the Netherlands' 4-1 win because of concerns over his leg, but the midfielder was used for 70 minutes before being substituted.

Bayern's chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, said the Dutch Football Association was concerned only "about its own interests". He added: "What happened is exactly what we had been fearing before the game on Tuesday. It would have been responsible to have sent Van Bommel here on Tuesday and let him be examined and treated by our doctor."

The allegations about the Zenit match, in Stern magazine, said Uefa's highly respected head of disciplinary services, Peter Limacher, and another Uefa investigator, Robin Boksic, had suggested the 4-0 result was a fix. Bayern said they would take legal action against these "monstrous" and "defamatory" claims, into which Uefa opened an internal investigation that is still ongoing.

Uefa disputes that any such allegations were made in the first place, reiterating "full confidence in Peter Limacher, who has never accused Bayern of any misconduct, as it is a permanent principle of Uefa to presume innocence in the absence of any proof". No evidence of Bayern wrongdoing has been produced.

Bayern's bad start

Bundesliga results:

20 Aug Wolfsburg (h) Won 2-1

27 Aug Kaiserslautern (a) Lost 2-0

11 Sep Werder Bremen (h) Drew 0-0

18 Sep Cologne (h) Drew 0-0

21 Sep Hoffenheim (a) Won 2-1

25 Sep Mainz (h) Lost 2-1

3 Oct Borussia Dortmund (a) Lost 2-0

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