Situation in title race improves despite draw at Nürnberg
The lead at the top of the table has been extended but the chance to forge ahead in the title race missed. There were mixed feelings for FC Bayern on Sunday night after the 1-1 draw in the Bavarian derby at FC Nürnberg as they boarded the team bus for the two-hour journey back to Munich. A win at Nürnberg for FC Bayern would have marked a big step in the direction of securing a seventh title in succession following the surprise home defeat for Borussia Dortmund against Schalke 04 on the previous day.
"It's really annoying. We could have bagged a couple of hat tricks today and moved four points clear.. But we didn't manage to do it," said coach Niko Kovac after the game in front of a sell-out crowd at the Max Morlock Stadium. Central defender Mats Hummels said: "The situation has improved. We didn't count on that before the weekend. We would have liked to have extended the lead to four points. But we didn't deserve it today."
From the kick-off, relegation-threatened Nürnberg showed great commitment and energy as they succeeding in preventing the league leaders from posing a real threat on their goal. Two shots against the bar from free kicks by David Alaba and James plus a chance for Leon Goretzka, kept out by the impressive Nürnberg goalkeeper Christian Mathenia, with the best chances before substitute Serge Gnabry levelled for FC Bayern on 75 minutes. Matheus Pereira (48') had given the hosts a surprise lead before that.
Hectic closing stages
"We didn't do well. We could never impose ourselves on the game. We lacked energy. We didn't do anything up front," complained sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic before admitting: "We were lucky to get a point." Lucky perhaps because Nürnberg missed a great chance to win the game in the last minute when Tim Leibold hit his penalty against the post. At the other end, Kingsley Coman could have sealed the win for the Reds but Mathenia made a save at the end of a 50-yard solo run.
"Nürnberg made life very, very difficult for us from the first to the last minute. They got stuck into every tackle and showed 90 minutes of passionate football and defence," said Kovac before turning his attention to his team. "At the end of the day, you have to say our performance did not match up to expectations before the game. We gave the ball away too easily and there were too many lapses of concentration, which we don't normally produce as a rule."
In the end, Kovac did draw a positive from the shared points: "If you can't win then you mustn't lose," he said borrowing from the former Bayern coach Giovanni Trapattoni. So now it is down to Bayern to make amends and next Saturday's home game against Hannover 96 as Salihamidzic make clear. "It's relatively easy to make the calculation and you don't need to have studied advanced mathematics. We have to pick up seven points if BVB win all of their last three games," and the 47-year-old coach hit the nail on the head: "Tick it off and move on. We've still got three finals left."