Bayern Munich may have given the rest of Germany a head start in the league with a mediocre beginning of the season, but make no mistake, this is one of the best teams in the world. Through to the last eight of Champions League after defeating PSG 3-0 on aggregate across two legs, Julian Nagelsmann is pushing the right buttons despite having an injury-riddled squad.
Losing Manuel Neuer, the now mending Sadio Mane, Lucas Hernandez, and Noussair Mazzaroui has meant the Bavarians have had to tinker this season, but behind a resurgent Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, the team has shined when required. The question before the season was how would the team replace Robert Lewandowski, they bought Mane for the part and then just as he hit form lost him to injury. Choupo-Moting has come to the rescue, leading the line with 17 goals and four assists in all competitions.
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An attack that is comfortable passing to secondary options while also built around a budding star in Jamal Musiala, Bayern Munich has what it takes to win Champions League.
Wednesday, PSG weren't at their best but that has to do with how Bayern's kept them contained. Pushing Kylian Mabppe and Lionel Messi centrally, Bayern clogged the midfield to stop the match from getting into full flow and anything that did reach Yann Sommer was dealt with excellently.
Yann Sommer with a massive save as he denies Sergio Ramos. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/o1HMF0ZnWk— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) March 8, 2023
Sommer is a good microcosm of what Bayern did in the January transfer window, identifying their weaknesses and reloading to ensure that they have the best shot to win a Champions League title, which would be their first since 2020 over PSG. Joao Cancelo, who was also added in January, needed just three minutes to assist Serge Gnabry for the insurance goal in the 89th minute.
"Opening PSG up like a fresh fish."— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) March 8, 2023
João Cancelo finds Serge Gnabry and Bayern Munich put PSG to the sword. ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/LsTC7ujow0
Looking at the Bundesliga standings, where they sit tied with Borussia Dortmund on 49 points after 23 matches, it feels like this is a weaker Bayern team than usual. Even Union Berlin on 44 points and RB Leipzig and SC Freiburg on 42 each are keeping things interesting. But Bayern will inevitably runs away with things.
Scoring 66 goals while only allowing 22 in the league, Bayern has a goal difference that is more than double the best of the next best team which is Dortmund at 19. With only 23 games played under their belt, there is plenty of time for things to stabilize even while keeping one eye on a deep Champions League run.
Nagelsmann talked a big game before this match. "It's key not to just focus on defense and sit back and think about how many excellent players PSG have," he said. "Instead, we want to send our excellent players onto the field, in their best positions, so that they can be dangerous and attack the goal." But in reality the Bayern manager was also willing to be pragmatic. He started Josip Stanisic at right back to keep Mbappe at bay using one of the diverse options his squad gives him to limit PSG to only 10 shots. Nagelsmann made sure his defense could counter PSG while also maintaining his sides attacking ability.
Inching closer to the Champions League final, if Nagelsmann can keep making calls like that he'd go from being a manager on the hot seat during Bayern's struggles to announcing himself as one of the top managers in the world.