Dhe round of 16 cracker against Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé inevitably pushed the last Bayern home game of the year into the background. CEO Oliver Kahn and sports director Hasan Salihamidzic applauded with a serious expression after the Champions League draw in Nyon, which did not end happily. In February and March, the knockout against Paris Saint-Germain will see a repeat of the 2020 final and a spectacular showdown in Europe’s premier football league.
“We can look forward to two great games with the best players in Europe,” said Kahn. Salihamidzic was looking forward to a “treat” against “one of the best teams with absolute world stars”. The other three German representatives also got tough deals: RB Leipzig meets title favorite Manchester City from coach Pep Guardiola, Borussia Dortmund meets Chelsea and Europa League winner Eintracht Frankfurt plays against the in-form SSC Naples.
“The perfect group stage wasn’t really rewarded. Same goes for Paris, they won’t be extremely excited that they’re playing us. It’s still a long way off, it’s the World Cup and a few other games in between,” said coach Julian Nagelsmann and was already busy preparing for the Bremen game this Tuesday (8:30 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the Bundesliga and on Sky). . “We’re in first place now, that’s where we want to be. If we get six points before the World Cup, then we’ll stay that way.”
“We don’t have to risk anything”
In all likelihood, Thomas Müller will be absent from Bayern’s two remaining games against Werder and on Saturday at FC Schalke. “Since we’re all fit, we don’t have to risk it. I think that’s in his interest too,” said Nagelsmann. “I would just like to give him the peace and quiet before the World Cup to let the structure heal completely.”
The 33-year-old Müller had recently been stopped by problems in his back, hips and adductors. But the 118-time national player wants to be fit for the World Cup, for which national coach Hansi Flick nominated his squad on Thursday – for a reunion with Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s former club next year anyway. “It’s a good moment to play against Bayern because we feel really good and are very confident for the rest of the season,” said PSG sporting director Luis Campos.
After winning the final more than two years ago, there was a bitter end to the mega-million squad from France in the 2021 quarter-finals. “We won the 2020 final, in 2021 we narrowly failed in the quarter-finals, so now it would be our turn again,” said final-winning scorer Kingsley Coman. Bayern were surprisingly knocked out by FC Villarreal in the quarter-finals last season.
As group winners, Bayern will first play away in the Prinzenpark in Paris on February 14th, in the home arena the Munich team then want to make the quarter-finals entry perfect on March 8th against Messi, Neymar and Mbappé. After the abolition of the away goals rule, it should be an even greater advantage to play the second game in front of a home crowd.
“Our defensive performance will be important because they have concentrated offensive power with the well-known names,” said captain Manuel Neuer. According to Nagelsmann, the 36-year-old is doing “very well” after the shoulder injury. He felt his shoulder a bit after his return, but that was normal. Neuer will also be in goal against Bremen.
Defense chief Matthijs de Ligt will be absent with a knee injury. The Dutchman should be back on board against Schalke. He also liked to look ahead to the PSG showdown. “I’m really looking forward to these duels, it will be a celebration for all football fans. Two of the strongest teams in Europe will meet,” said the 23-year-old.
Before FC Bayern’s last home game this year, coach Nagelsmann is looking forward to the World Cup break with mixed feelings. He was “divided in two,” said the 35-year-old. “In terms of results and the way we’re playing, the break may not come at the right time.” FC Bayern will continue in the Bundesliga on January 20 in Leipzig against RB. “The long Champions League break in particular is not so nice. You would like to keep playing when you are so good in the flow,” said Nagelsmann.
He can also see something positive about the approaching break – at least for the non-World Cup participants. Because of the many games, it’s a bit like “autopilot,” said Nagelsmann. You have a lot of games, you are “always on the bus and always on the go”. He had to have many discussions in front of the team and the media. “It’s been a lot of palaver time from me. I’m also very happy when I don’t have to talk about football all the time.”
After the games against Bremen and Schalke, a small group that is not going to the World Cup will initially be given a week off. Then there are training sessions again. From December 10th to the beginning of January, FC Bayern should be free again. Training in the new year will then start on January 3rd. The Munich team will once again complete their winter training camp in Doha from January 6th to 12th.