FC Bayern in Champions League action tonight under cloud of controversy
Munich, November 2 - Bayern Munich's recent five match unbeaten run has done little to paper over the cracks of a frosty atmosphere at boardroom level. Following their worst start to a Bundesliga campaign since 1966, discontent is rife behind the scenes at 'FC Hollywood'.
President Uli Hoeness has publicly criticised coach Louis van Gaal. "It's difficult to talk to him, because he doesn't accept other peoples' opinions,'' complained Hoeness.
The Dutch coach, who won the double in his first season, reacted with disappointment and astonishment at the very personal Presidential outburst. "I think communication is one of my best qualities, he responded. 'King Louis' was also dismayed by the timing of the criticism during "this difficult phase with nine injured players''.
If one intensely scrutinised the proven Dutch coach's track record, you might say 'King Louis' has had a history when it comes to massive fall-out after a successful 'honeymoon' period. Most famously, there was a similar situation at Barcelona where he left with all bridges burnt after running out of people to argue with at the Catalan giants.
Undoubtedly, stormy waters lie ahead and Board Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has been called into mediate between two potentially ultra-stubborn hot-heads.
Meanwhile, the double winners' injury problems continue to mount with Croatian striker Ivica Olic ruled out for six months with a knee injury. The tiny Croatian hit-man will fly to the States for an operation under surgeon Dr. Richard Steadman's expert knife.
Bayern really are down to the bare bones in attack with Germany striker Miroslav Klose also pulling up in training. Klose will be out for a further three weeks and joins skipper Mark van Bommel and the likes of Arjen Robben, Franck Ribéry, Diego Contento and Breno on the sidelines.
Young German defender Holger Badstuber was also injured during the warm up for Friday's Bundesliga win against Freiburg. His spot was gratefully grasped by want-away defender Martin Demichelis who capped his return with the opening goal in a 4-2 victory - Bayern's tenth Bundesliga win in a row against their Breisgau visitors.
Indeed, Friday's much-needed win over Freiburg was remarkable for various match-winning performances from players previously unwanted and/or much-maligned by media and supporters alike. Demichelis opened the scoring with a bullet header from a Danijel Pranjic corner. A successful return from the wilderness did nothing to improve the Gaucho's mood and outlook on his career prospects. "It was my first start of the season tonight, but it might also be my last for Bayern,'' the Argentinian added dramatically.
Long-time striking misfit and now sudden saviour Mario Gomez doubled the champions' lead - also from a header from another corner from the diminutive Croatian - both very prominent past targets of the Bayern boo-boys.
Pranjic also jinked his way through to set up man of the match Anatoliy Tymoshchuk for a decisive third goal. The Ukrainian's versatility has proved invaluable with van Bommel currently out injured.
Tymoshchuk paired up with fellow misfit Demichelis in a makeshift first-half centre back duo, before the fit-again Belgian Daniel van Buyten joined forces with the Argentinian during the second half. This freed up the 14 million Euros signing to a more advanced role which he revelled in before slotting in his first ever Bundesliga goal for Bayern.
German youngster Toni Kroos, who was squeezed out last season on loan to Bayern Leverkusen, sealed the deal with a special 30-yard pile-driver.
Later tonight Bayern take on unfancied Cluj in the Champions League. Last year's finalists are looking for their fourth straight win to seal 'early' qualification for the next stage. The Romanians currently languish in 9th place in their domestic league - hardly high-calibre opponents - and perhaps a prime example of the unattractiveness of multiple group stage matches in what is 'allegedly' Europe's most prestigious competition.
On Saturday, the reigning Bundesliga champions travel to bottom-of-the-table Borussia Moenchengladbach - looking to eat into a ten point deficit at the top of the table. In the 70s these two sides were the heavyweights of German football sharing eight Bundesliga titles in that decade between them.
Sadly for the home side, Gladbach have fallen on harder times and go into the game floundering on the back of a miserable run of form - winless in eight games and possessing the most porous defence in the Bundesliga - conceding an average of three goals a game.