Quarter.finals of the Champions League against Villarreal: A first real rehearsal for Nagelsmann and Bayern – Sport

Julian Nagelsmann has played more than thirty games as a coach in the Champions League and even won half of them. When FC Bayern line up for the quarter-final first leg against Villarreal (9 p.m./Dazn) on Wednesday and the official anthem of modern elite football sounds through the small Estadio de la Ceramica, the Bayern coach will still be tingling again. “If I ever have the feeling that a Champions League game is becoming routine, then I stop,” he said at the weekend.

It’s definitely too early for that. After all, Nagelsmann has only just begun. At 34, he is by far the youngest coach in these quarterfinals. In Germany he may have been a big number for a long time. The world coaching career that many prophesy for him is still in the early stages. And the decisive weeks of his first Champions League season with FC Bayern are considered the first big rehearsal.

This title remains the measure of all things in Munich. The last hint of a title fight disappeared at the weekend with Dortmund’s defeat against Leipzig: Even if Bayern should actually lose the points won in Freiburg at the green table, the tenth championship in a row should not be in danger. As with so many of his predecessors, it will only be decided in the Champions League whether Nagelsmann’s first season can be considered a success.

So far it has been a season with two faces. On the one hand there was Bayern, who played an impeccable group stage and are the undisputed leaders in the league: a team that has brought new flair and flexibility to the brilliance of old flick football. On the other hand, there was Bayern, who were humiliated against Borussia Mönchengladbach and VfL Bochum: a team with conspicuous defense weaknesses that are always good for a slip.

In this respect, the current question is whether Bayern are among the favorites at all this year, or are they just a size by name? The trash talk between the big clubs in Europe has long since begun. Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema recently sent a tip towards Munich. “Bayern is a team that scores goals but also concedes a lot,” he told L’Equipe.

Liverpool would come after Villarreal

He’s not wrong. Despite all of Bayern’s strengths, there were always problems this season, especially with counterattack protection. These were recently shown by RB Salzburg in the Champions League, among others. The Austrians easily defeated Bayern in the round of 16 first leg. It should be more difficult against Real or the possible semi-final opponent Liverpool.

First of all, however, the focus is on the quarter-finals, because there lurks a possible stumbling block in Villarreal. The reigning Europa League winner from coach Unai Emery may be a blatant outsider, but he has already shown what he is capable of. In the round of 16, the Spaniards caused a surprise when they brought the favorites Juventus Turin to an early exit with disciplined defensive behavior and ice-cold efficiency.

“It’s a playfully experienced team that has already experienced something and that has to be cracked first. Nevertheless, I’m in good spirits that we will prevail,” said Nagelsmann.

Villarreal FC are looking for their form

There is also reason for optimism. On the one hand, the Spaniards are not in their best form at the moment – ​​except for the gala win against Juve. They lost the dress rehearsal against Levante 2-0 at the weekend, and in the league they have only one goal and one win in the last three games.

In addition, FC Bayern traveled to Spain with the strongest squad despite Corentin Tolisso being injured again. Alphonso Davies, who has been absent for a long time, is there, and Leon Goretzka is also available again. Maybe Nagelsmann will give the German international a break. Jamal Musiala could play for him, who recently impressed in the sixth position for both Bayern and the national team.

So Nagelsmann has no excuses. Anything but a progress would be a disaster, a narrow victory would hardly satisfy anyone. Only with a clear success could one send the often invoked announcement to the competition. But Nagelsmann is not impressed by that either. “It’s not a problem for us to be favourites. You have to do justice to the role and we are well prepared for that,” he said.

By Editor

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