Bayern Munich’s time at the top was short-lived, and its problems remain.
Bayern temporarily moved into a tie for first place in the Bundesliga by beating Hertha Berlin 1-0 on Saturday, but Borussia Dortmund restored its three-point lead on Sunday with a 3-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen.
After Bayern’s match, Rafinha criticized coach Niko Kovac because of a lack of playing time. The defender hasn’t played since Bayern’s 3-1 loss at Leverkusen on Feb. 2.
“If you don’t get a minute (playing time) and don’t play, it’s hard to prepare,” Rafinha said. “I do my work, train well, but, no idea, the coach doesn’t count on me.”
Rafinha said his situation changed in January after he said he wanted to leave the club.
“I never made any fuss at Bayern, nor will I,” the 33-year-old Brazilian added. “But it’s sad.”
Bayern president Uli Hoeness didn’t show much sympathy on Sunday.
“Now Rafinha is complaining,” Hoeness told broadcaster Sport-1, without offering any words of consolation for the defender. “Journalists should stop always going to the unsatisfied players.”
Hoeness was bullish as he addressed the criticism Bayern has been getting for an unconvincing season so far. The defending champions haven’t impressed in the Bundesliga, were content to waste time for a 0-0 draw in Liverpool in the Champions League, and needed extra time to progress against Hertha in the German Cup.
“We can live very well with the criticism as long as the results are right,” Hoeness said.
The Bayern president also defended sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.
“He’s doing a super job,” said Hoeness, who hinted at a host of upcoming signings. “You can’t trumpet about everything now to announce the star, and disappoint all the ones that are there now. Because we need them now.”
Hoeness also said Bayern could “sacrifice the championship for one year” to give veteran players like Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and Rafinha a worthy farewell.
“I have won more than 50 titles in my lifetime, so one or another doesn’t matter,” Hoeness said.
Bayern winger Kingsley Coman has been ruled out again after tearing a muscle in his left thigh in the win over Hertha. Coman had only been on the field for nine minutes. The France winger is likely to miss Bayern’s second leg against Liverpool on March 13.
Bayern next faces a tough game at third-place Borussia Moenchengladbach, while Dortmund visits Augsburg before hosting Tottenham in the return leg of the Champions League.
Bayern has 11 matches in the Bundesliga remaining, with a potential title-decider against Dortmund on April 6.