aLate on Tuesday evening, when the fans had already disappeared from Barcelona’s stadium upstairs, Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann was sitting downstairs in the press room and said a startling sentence: “This is my first time at a club where you’re going to leave in my league.” European champions not as an underdog, but as someone who has to win.” Not what he said was cool, but where he said it. He has not been seated at Estádio da Luz in Lisbon or at Olimpijskyj in Kiev, where he will compete with his new team in the preliminary round of the Champions League in the next few weeks. He was sitting at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, where football has been played more beautifully than any other stadium on the planet this century.
Is this really a ‘must’ place for Bayern Munich to win?
Yes, it will be in September 2021. That evening at the Camp Nou, the colors of the shirts reminded only of Barcelona who shaped the sport with its style of play. Among others, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets, midfielder and midfielder, ran on the grass in red and blue jerseys. Under the leadership of coach Pep Guardiola, they have been involved in creating an amazing team. Under coach Ronald Koeman, they are followers of an unassuming team that can barely defend themselves on their court. “We tried to do our best,” Koeman later said, according to the interpreter at the press conference. The maximum at the time was: 0:3. Because those three goals scored by Thomas Muller (34th minute) and Robert Lewandowski (56, 85) were actually very few, Joshua Kimmich, another guest from Munich, said cautiously: “We could have Win a higher score.
It certainly hasn’t happened often in recent years that an away player at Camp Nou was able to formulate such a conclusion with a clear conscience. “If you win 3-0 here, that’s a very important signal” – said Thomas Muller – but then did not explain how this signal should be interpreted: Were the winners simply superior or the losers simply inferior?
“They showed today that they are better than us,” said Ronald Koeman, who had to watch from the first row, only once surprising his players from Munich. In the 28th minute, defender Ronald Araujo, who left his position for a free kick, was unrestricted in the penalty area. Heading the ball over the goal. And otherwise? “If you don’t have the speed up front, it’s very difficult to win,” Koeman said. But it was not only speed in the legs that was not there, but above all speed in the mind and in passing. The new Barcelona team lacks the qualities of the old Barcelona.
If you look around near the Camp Nou before the first game of the season in the Champions League, you have seen the fans of a team that has physically arrived at the reality of the present, but is not mentally separated from the past. In the stands in front of the stadium, men and women sold shirts with the number 10 on them, but not the name Ansu Fati, who will wear this number from now on, but Lionel Messi, the prodigy player who made it. The last 13 years. But Messi is gone – because FC Barcelona (total debt: 1.35 billion euros) can no longer afford it. The only thing is: although the quality of the team has declined – instead of Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann (on loan to Atletico Madrid) in the storm of Memphis Depay and Luke de Jong – the demands are not. Neither internally nor externally. And so on that first evening of the Champions League, FC Barcelona looked like a poker player who had always held an ace and a king in his hand – now vying only with ten and nine in the showdown with the big players.
Julian Nagelsmann and his Bavarian team immediately spotted this trick on Tuesday evening. They keep making Barcelona players look helpless. You can see that especially in the moments when they should have turned on the offensive. Or, as Robert Lewandowski put it: “Barcelona couldn’t see our target.” His coach saw it similarly. “We defended very well and very emotionally” Nagelsmann said – and explained that with ball control. This ensures “the necessary pills in defense to defend more actively”. That was clear – in half the Catalans and half of Bayern Munich, the four defenders around center back Dayot Opicano lost almost no duel. “If you have the offensive quality that we have, the chances are high that you will also win without a match,” Nagelsmann said. That’s what happened – even if they were at least lucky before the first goal. Thomas Muller’s shot was deflected, which was likely to have been saved by Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
In the Camp Nou press room, Julian Nagelsmann said that after his first Champions League win with his new club, he would “take a little sip”. Even then, suspicions arose that the coach and his team had roasted a rival, at least this season, not one late at night in Barcelona.
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