Champions League: "Adults" Bayern make their mark in Barcelona

Robert Lewandowski was only able to join the crowd of well-wishers for this demonstration of power in Munich when he visited the cabin at night.

Champions League: "Adults" Bayern make their mark in Barcelona

Robert Lewandowski was only able to join the crowd of well-wishers for this demonstration of power in Munich when he visited the cabin at night.

In contrast to the frustrated world footballer, the Bayern stars around leader Matthijs de Ligt happily strolled to the team bus after the prematurely cemented group victory and even spoke of a new coup in Europe. "We're trying to win the Champions League," said coach Julian Nagelsmann. "That was the first step, but there are still many steps to take to have the title at the end of the season."

The impressively confident 3-0 in the best Mia-san-Mia manner against the proud FC Barcelona, ​​who were relegated to the Europa League for the second time in a row, should now be the benchmark for the big goals of the three-time Champions League winner. "If we bring this intensity paired with our quality onto the pitch, then we have a chance," said sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.

De Ligt shines

At Camp Nou, Sadio Mané, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Benjamin Pavard, driven by three-time preparer Serge Gnabry, not only documented the offensive class of the series group winner with their goals. After a mysterious phase of weakness a few weeks ago, the performance on the defensive, which the 23-year-old defense chief de Ligt organized perfectly, was even more impressive. "We did very well with 15 points from 5 games," said the Dutchman, who was the king transfer in the summer, at least in terms of the transfer fee of around 70 million euros. Due to the strong defense, the absence of the still injured national goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was not noticed.

In the triumphs of 2013 and 2020, Bayern's defensive stability was a key success factor. "The performance was very mature, very confident," said Nagelsmann, who was the only coach in the premier class to celebrate four wins against the glorious FC Barcelona. "In terms of biliousness, my team played an exceptionally good game." Four group games without conceding prove the defensive quality in numbers.

The way to the second place in the Bundesliga, who set his sights on the hunt for leaders 1. FC Union Berlin when he landed in Munich early on Thursday afternoon, is still a long way to the final on June 10, 2023. The next important stage is the round of 16 in February and March, in which Bayern have home advantage in the second leg. The draw for the first knockout round on the top floor of European football will take place on November 7th in Nyon.

Group win as a "sign"

"We'll see what winning the group means in the end when the draw is made," said Nagelsmann. Basically, however, the group winners were the better teams in the preliminary round. "So it's important as a sign inside and outside," said the 35-year-old. Big hits like top favorites Manchester City or Chelsea FC are not a threat, but despite a few unlucky ones, a duel with Liverpool FC would be possible.

Lewandowski, who moved from Munich to Barcelona, ​​can only watch it on television. For the second year in a row, the heavily indebted club, which wanted to start the trend reversal with a transfer summer worth more than 150 million euros, was shown a class difference compared to FC Bayern. In five Champions League games with the Catalans, Lewandowski suffered three defeats - at Bayern it lasted 43 games until there were three bankruptcies.

"If we play well, every team has problems against us," said Thomas Müller, who felt sorry for his long-standing strike partner. "Of course you sympathize because you know what an ambitious athlete Lewy is and what an ambitious club Barcelona is." Before the last group match day in a week and the home game against second-placed Inter Milan, the order is already set. Behind Barça, Viktoria Pilsen occupies the last place in the classification.

Again zero number for Lewandowski

As in the 0: 2 in the first leg, Lewandowski experienced a personal zero number as a five-time goal scorer in Europe - also because of de Ligt. "I think we played very nice duels," said de Ligt after what was probably his best game in a Bayern jersey. The fact that Barcelona didn't receive the penalty after a duel between him and Lewandowski allowed the 23-year-old to breathe deeply. Lewandowski just shook his head in annoyance on a black evening when the end was already certain before the kick-off.

"We have two brilliant central defenders at the moment," Nagelsmann emphasized the performances of de Ligt and Dayot Upamecano. Sven Ulreich, who once again stood in for Neuer (bruised shoulder joint), who probably won't be back for the weekend, was practically untested. "We simply have a different consistency overall, both in front of goal and in defence," emphasized Leon Goretzka. Lucas Hernández, another top man in defence, is still missing injured.

And up front, Choupo-Moting's personal football fairy tale continues. The 33-year-old also scored against Barcelona. "We go into every Champions League season with the goal of winning the thing in the end because we have the quality in the team," said the attacker. When he was practically ordered by Salihamidzic to talk about his next assassination. In the background, the significantly improved Mané stole from the cult stadium. "He made a strong game," said "Choupo". The fact that his successor also shone matched Lewandowski's bitter evening.