German legend Franz Beckenbauer has issued a rallying call to Bayern Munich, urging their players to step up and achieve their potential.
After failing to win their last two competitive matches, the Bavarians stand four points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, and are in serious danger of being eliminated from the Champions League.
Basel will take a 1-0 lead into their second leg at the Allianz Arena, of their last-tie in Europe, prompting Beckenbauer to alert the Bayern squad of the danger they find themselves in.
“The players must have it hammered home right now: do you want to be second-class internationals or become some of the greats?” Beckenbauer told Bild.
Many among Bayern’s current team competed in the Champions League, European Championship and World Cup finals. But unlike Beckenbauer – who won each of the above at least once – none have won a major international tournament.
Beckenbauer said that the Bavarian management must explicitly warn the players what is at stake if they do not soon find their form, before throwing his support behind coach Jupp Heynckes.
“(Christian) Nerlinger, (Karl-Heinz) Rummenigge, (Uli) Hoeness and Heynckes must come together and make the seriousness of the situation clear to the players,” he said.
“The sporting responsibility belongs to Jupp Heynckes, but in him I have no doubt.”
Beckenbauer was more critical of the Bayern players, and blamed a lack of leadership within the squad for the team’s inability to recover from a poor start in Wednesday’s Champions League tie in Switzerland.
“(Former captain Oliver) Kahn would have immediately intervened, brought together the players and driven the team forward,” he said.