Last week saw one of the more surprising results in this season's Champions League, with 2013 winners Bayern Munich dispatched 3-1 by Porto.
The media has portrayed this as a major shock, a freak result, a rare off-day for the European powerhouse. However, we can't forget Bayern's humiliating slaying at the hands of Real Madrid in last year's semi-final. Is this yet another sign of Bayern's declining status?
Still on contention
Before we get ahead of ourselves we must remember that Bayern are still in contention for qualification to the semi-finals once again, needing to win by two goals in the return fixture and with the additional safety of an away goal. Also a huge amount of credit for the result must go to the fantastic work done by Porto, particularly the virtuoso Ricardo Quaresma, who ended the night with two goals to his name.
Injuries to key players such as Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and Bastian Schweinsteiger may also have been mitigating factors, but they have ample depth in their squad to cover these. With Mario Goetze and Thomas Muller to call upon, you would still have expected them to have triumphed.
However this does not take away from the fact that Bayern were extremely lacklustre. They certainly did not look like a team leading their domestic league by 12 points. And this may well be where their problem lies - Bayern simply have no competition at home, and as such are unable to step up to compete with the elite like they used to.
It hasn't always been like this - during the two years they reached the final and the following year won the Champions League, they were under intense pressure for the Bundesliga crown from Borussia Dortmund, who won back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012. The past couple of years their decline has been well-documented, and it seems to have coincided with Bayern's European decline.
Dortmund have suffered from Bayern poaching their key players Mario Goetze and Robert Lewandowski, the latter seeming to be the most significant loss to Jurgen Klopp's side. Although it has allowed the Munich side to stroll to another title, the lack of a genuine competitor - Wolfsburg sit 12 points adrift, third-placed Bayer Leverkusen 19 points off top spot - has left them without a challenge, with the players themselves admitting that training games are often harder than league matches.
How can a team that is used to cruising to victory at a canter vitally every week be expected to suddenly up their game to match significantly better opposition?
It should not be an excuse - with the vast array of talent at their disposal and an excellent coach like Pep Guardiola they should still be a prominent force, but it seems to me too much of a coincidence.
Although signing the players from Dortmund may well have strengthened their squad and almost eradicated any title challenge, it may well have a detrimental effect on their European dreams.
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