The round of 16 second leg in the against RB Salzburg marks the start of the hot phase of the season for FC Bayern. An elimination after the 1:1 in the first leg would be fatal, but both coach Julian Nagelsmann and Thomas Müller see this pressure from the positive side.
With the away goals rule abolished, the starting position is clear: FC Bayern need a win against the Austrian champions for their 20th appearance in the quarter-finals of the top flight. “We are aware of the responsibility, what is at stake tomorrow. But I look at it from the side of what we can achieve,” Thomas Müller said at the press conference on Monday afternoon. His addition: “If we succeed, it can still be an extremely good season.” Nagelsmann is also optimistic: “I don’t expect us to be eliminated if we show the appropriate performance. “
And if it does go wrong? “Then it’s no longer a special season for us, you can go out on a limb that far,” says Nagelsmann, while Müller says: “Then we wouldn’t have rosy times at FC Bayern.” The key, alongside an efficient offensive, will be mistake-avoidance on the defensive, risk management as Müller calls it. “We need a better feeling for the zones in which we look for the risky, complicated, playful solution and in which it is better not to.” In tennis, one would speak of unforced errors, unnecessary mistakes, in view of the one or other slip-up in the recent past. “These get us into trouble,” says Müller. Nagelsmann asks himself and his team the question: “How much risk do we take, how much loss of control do we have as a result?” A tightrope walk, especially since it remains FC Bayern’s claim to solve most of the game playfully.
The good news from Bayern’s point of view: Manuel Neuer will return to goal after a good four-week injury break following meniscus surgery, “if there is no reaction overnight”, as Nagelsmann slightly qualified. The national goalkeeper took part in the final training session. The coach did not reveal any further details about the line-up, saying that the eleven players in the best shape would always come first, followed by the alignment with the opponent. He left it open whether Leroy Sané would be among those selected as a wild card after two games, but said: “If I were to line up now, he would start.”
The Munich side will be paying respect to their opponents Salzburg, but Müller is also rather positive about the 1-1 draw in the first leg: “Because of the early deficit, it looked as if we were vulnerable. But I’m more judging by how we played them and dominated them in the last 40, 50 minutes. Nagelsmann expects RB to want to stress Bayern in the early stages, saying his team will have to keep the tempo up over 90 minutes. “They have had a good team for years with a clear idea, even after winning the ball, and are not so easy to defend.” To get to the quarter-finals, his team will have to play better than they did in Salzburg. Depending on how the game goes, over 90 or even 120 minutes.