“A path for true champions”: duel of tactical freaks increases the risk of explosion at Bayern

“A path for true champions”
Duel of tactical freaks increases risk of explosion at FC Bayern

After the end of the DFB Cup, the double from the championship and the Champions League is almost mandatory at FC Bayern. The pressure is huge because the quarter-finals of the premier class are against Manchester City. There, two trainers meet who sometimes communicate with salt and pepper shakers.

Years ago, the tactical freaks Thomas Tuchel and Pep Guardiola had a lot of fun pushing salt and pepper shakers back and forth in a Munich bar – but now things are getting deadly serious for the two top coaches. The motto in the premier class cracker: Elimination prohibited! In the quarter-finals against Manchester City with “Tormonster” Erling Haaland, FC Bayern in particular is under massive pressure. After the coach earthquake and the cup failure, there is a high risk of explosion in Munich. CEO Oliver Kahn and sports director Hasan Salihamidžić are particularly in focus.

But before the departure to the island in bright sunshine on Easter Monday afternoon, Bayern tried to be confident, despite all the problems, to be able to stop striker Haaland in a duel with ex-coach Guardiola. “Manchester City is an absolute top team, but we are Bayern Munich. We will be ready for this big opponent. If you want to win the Champions League, you have to beat the best,” said Kahn before the eagerly awaited first leg on Tuesday (9 p.m./Amazon Prime Video and in the ntv.de live ticker).

Bayern captain Thomas Müller also demonstratively displayed the recently lost “Mia san mia”. “What I think is great is that we have the second leg in Munich. We’re approaching the task with confidence,” emphasized Müller. And Salihamidžić added with a broad grin at the airport: “We are very optimistic. We know what we can do and have a lot of self-confidence.”

Haaland is “an absolute weapon”

For the ailing Bavarians, however, the ultimate task awaits in the Etihad Stadium in Manchester: How do you stop super striker Haaland, who single-handedly shot down RB Leipzig 7-0 with five goals in the round of 16 second leg? The respect is great. “A pep team with Haaland is still a pep team for me, but with Erling they have an absolute weapon,” said Müller. Guardiola has already compared his youngster to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. But, according to Leon Goretzka, “none of us are shaking.”

Nevertheless: Bayern don’t have anyone in attack that comes close to Haaland’s class – especially since Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting will not be available again due to his knee joint problems. But it’s not the only concern that plagues the new coach Tuchel after the difficult 1-0 win at SC Freiburg. “I have openly addressed the fact that we are a bit lacking in ease, self-confidence and creativity – and therefore in absolute top form,” said Julian Nagelsmann’s successor thoughtfully, although the record champions wanted revenge for the cup defeat against Freiburg and the defense of the Table lead was achieved.

That’s why Tuchel didn’t want to lean too far out of the window. He announced a “brave” appearance. But: “It’s one of the biggest tests at the moment. We have to reach for the ceiling.” “Anything can happen”.

A title is already gone for Bayern

Especially since it’s against Guardiola. The Spaniard, who was coach in Munich from 2013 to 2016, is said to like to overdo it, especially in the highlights. That’s why the big success was still missing at City – and nothing other than the triumph in the premier class is expected from the star ensemble around Haaland and captain İlkay Gündoğan. In 2021, City narrowly failed in the final at Chelsea with Tuchel (0-1). “Of course I was sad, but it happened. We have to forget that,” said Guardiola.

But there is also a lot at stake for Bayern after a title has already gone. After Nagelsmann’s surprising dismissal, Kahn and Salihamidžić in particular are under observation. You took a risk by signing Tuchel. And the risk of missing the goal in the premier class, as in the past two years, is high.

On the way to the final in Istanbul on June 10, the winner of the duel between Real Madrid and Chelsea would be waiting in the semifinals. This is, said national player Goretzka in the “Sport Bild”, “a way for true champions and we want to be one”.

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