Getty Images

Bayern Munich take on SS Lazio in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie on Tuesday with the Italian outfit 1-0 up from leg one in Rome. The German juggernauts have home advantage but little else going for them at present with Bayer Leverkusen 10 points clear in the Bundesliga and no DFB Pokal left to fight for. As always, you can catch all the Champions League action as well as pre and postgame coverage across CBS, Paramount+, CBS Sports Network and CBS Sports Golazo Network.

CBS Sports' resident German soccer expert Ian Joy believes that Bayern have been sleepwalking into what could be imminent crisis for some time now."I do not think that Bayern are institutionally ill, but there are some issues within the club for sure," said the former FC St. Pauli man. 

"At executive board level, with old Bayern heads such as Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Franz Beckenbauer now gone, I think they do not know how to take the club in the right direction outside of being financially and professionally successful in the Bundesliga. What Bayern have normally done is buy the best players from the Bundesliga and found success with the best coaches in the league. The game now is completely different and there are clubs in the world who are far more financially successful.

"Bayern, as an institution, do not know which direction they are going in. They do not know who to put in charge to take them in that right direction. They are institutionally lost -- they do not know who they are anymore. The identity of the club has completely changed and there is no trust within the club, executively. The biggest problem that they have going forward is trying to compete financially with the best clubs in the world. They can compete in Germany because they have the most money but there are probably 15 clubs that can now blow Bayern out of the water financially."

It was just back in 2020 that Bayern won their sixth and most recent Champions League title and remained dominant in Germany after Hansi Flick's departure as head coach. However, Julian Nagelsmann and Thomas Tuchel have both struggled to keep the Bavarian giants at the top of the domestic tree, let alone the continental one in recent years. For Joy, this was something that has been a long time in coming and was visible even when Robert Lewandowski was still prolific in attack at Allianz Arena.

"Lewandowski patched over a number of issues for Bayern, and relying heavily on a goal scorer to win games and titles is exactly what he did for the club," he said. "They overachieved in many ways, but they still have a very good core of players that had been put together even if Hansi Flick and Julian Nagelsmann who were both terrible fits. At the same time, though, I am looking at wrong decisions being made at academy level with transfer policy and spending more money than ever before. They have always had that sort of money to spend, but they have rarely done so. They used to want to be absolutely sure that they were signing players and those players were coming for the right reasons, which is no longer the case -- the players coming in now are doing so for the money.

"Bayern know that if they want to be more competitive that they have to challenge the Premier League clubs or PSG who have more money to potentially put together a Champions League challenger. Scouting has been poor, but also the decision making for the personnel coming in has been poor and those coming in have underperformed. That has been patched over by really good players who were already there in the past like Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer and Joshua Kimmich who are now getting older. When those players see cracks and start criticizing, then you know that things have been wrong for a while."

Don't miss CBS Sports Golazo Network's Morning Footy, now in podcast form! Our crew brings you all the news, views, highlights and laughs you need to follow the Beautiful Game in every corner of the globe, every Monday-Friday all year long.

Leverkusen running away with the Bundesliga so far this season under former Bayern player Xabi Alonso has not been lost on anyone around the German soccer scene. Normally, the Spanish tactician would be plucked by the Bavarian powerhouse and tasked with righting the situation. However, such has been Alonso's success that Bayern are not the only top European side keeping an eye on their former player with Liverpool also keen for him to succeed Jurgen Klopp or at least be part of the conversation.

"Leverkusen's success is forcing Bayern to rethink their philosophy and what has gone wrong," said Joy. "If Leverkusen do win the league, as we think they will, then that is not a bad thing for Bayern. It takes me back to when the national team missed out on the World Cup and they then changed the whole idea of German soccer and used money to implement a much more structured youth system. Bayern do not know which direction to go in, and they see Leverkusen not only potentially winning the league but possibly a treble with Bayern out of the DFB Pokal. We could see Bayern out of the title race, Europe and the cup by March which I do not think has ever happened before -- it is absolutely crazy.

"Things have to change within Bayern and their approach and they would normally take the best coach in Germany who is Alonso, put him in charge and let him grow the club. He knows Bayern and what it takes to win and be successful as a Bayern player so it would not surprise me if they go all-out for Alonso, give him the tools and money to bring in the players and experience that he needs over four to five years with the keys to a project that returns Bayern to winning and competing. I cannot imagine Bayern going forward without someone like Alonso coming in and making a difference."

Which brings us back to the Champions League and this week's clash with Lazio which could have major ramifications for Tuchel if the Italians advance. With the Bundesliga and the DFB Pokal already lost, it basically means that the UCL is the only potential avenue to silverware for Bayern, who last lost out on the German crown back in 2011 to Klopp's Borussia Dortmund. With Tuchel already moving on at the end of the season, the former PSG and Chelsea tactician could go even sooner if Lazio advance.

"If Bayern do go out of the Champions League and with their title hopes already basically over, I think that we could see Tuchel replaced with an interim boss," added Joy. "Bayern are absolutely a vulnerable team right now and Lazio can turn them over, which I never thought that I would say. There is every possibility that a strong decision will be made when you look at Tuchel's body language against SC Freiburg, where they were poor but should have won.

"He knows that he is being made out to be the scapegoat, but he has not been successful at the club who went from being poor under Nagelsmann, but still in every competition to very quickly out of all of them and very lucky title winners on the final day. Suddenly they could be out of all competitions by March, and that is unheard of so expected the unexpected if Bayern go out of the Champions League again -- if not against Lazio then whoever comes next."

Bayern's decision to appoint Tuchel in the first place was symptomatic of the club's problems and it possibly goes all the way back to 2019 when then German giants started to make knee-jerk decisions which have then created a cycle of short-term fixes as opposed to medium or long-term solutions. Alonso ticks many key boxes for Bayern which could make him their outstanding target to replace Tuchel.

"Tuchel is well respected in Germany but it was also a very quick decision to let Nagelsmann go and Bayern have made some ill decisions where they have jumped too quickly to replace the coach," explained Joy. "To have success in elite soccer you need time to build the club the way that you want it, tactically, but also squad-wise, staff and even the youth academy. It all takes time but none of them have been given that, even going all the way back to Niko Kovac -- Bayern did not give them time. There has not been one coach who has blown us all away.

"I think that someone not German is needed and Xavi could be one as he knows how to try to be successful from Barcelona with a clear structure from the academy to the starting XI. He is looking for a new opportunity and with Tuchel being treated unfairly, despite being the type of character that you do not mess around, he has already checked out in a way. I do not know where Bayern go immediately, but Xabi Alonso is the only one that would work immediately for me as he knows the DNA of the club having lived it. Look at what he has built with Leverkusen going from near the bottom to now potentially winning the league -- it is absolutely phenomenal. If you can keep him for four or five years, he is the one who could bring success relatively quickly before his next destination no doubt being Liverpool or Real Madrid."

Bayern's nightmare season has already been allowed to reach previously unthinkable depths but could it be about to get even worse? Failure to advance past Lazio to at least the Champions League quarterfinals could be the moment that sees the Bavarians take drastic action to halt a slide which has been years in the making. You can follow it all as it plays out on Paramount+ this Tuesday.