Sunday, September 26, 2021

Nagelsmann admits Messi move helped Bayern brush off Barcelona

SoccerNews in La Liga 14 Sep 2021

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Julian Nagelsmann promised to enjoy Bayern Munich’s 3-0 win at Barcelona with “a couple of drinks” as he pointed to how obviously the hosts are missing Lionel Messi.

Argentine great Messi played 149 Champions League games for Barcelona, scoring 120 goals and claiming 35 assists, but his switch to Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer in August has left a void.

Without him, Barcelona offered little going forward and failed to get a shot on target, the first time they have posed such a meek threat in a Champions League game since at least 2003-04, Opta said.

When they were thumped 8-2 by Bayern in the Champions League quarter-finals 13 months ago, Barcelona at least had five shots on target, with Messi managing two of those.

“In different moments, Lionel Messi would have helped in special things,” said Bayern head coach Nagelsmann. “It’s obvious a big player left the club, but still it’s a very strong team.

“We played strong defence. We changed towards the second half as well and in the second half we were definitely a bit better in control and built better chances. We certainly had the space to get more chances.”

Thomas Muller gave Bayern a half-time lead and Robert Lewandowski grabbed a double after the break to make it a cruise to victory for the German champions.

Nagelsmann arrived from Bundesliga rivals RB Leipzig in the close season as successor to Hansi Flick and relished the moment of victory, which he planned to enjoy for the rest of the evening.

He described it as “a great start” and said Bayern would push to be “one of the top contenders” to be champions.

“I didn’t ask in the hotel if they have proper glasses, but we’re going to enjoy this win with a couple of drinks,” he said.

“Winning the first game in the Champions League is always important, especially at a new club.”

Asked about the evergreen prowess of veterans Muller and Lewandowski, Nagelsmann said: “I’m super happy to have these world stars on my team. It’s great to work with them.

“Thomas is like a playing co-trainer who knows so much about football and tries to pass on those experiences to other players.”

Lewandowski has scored in his last 18 appearances for Bayern, netting 29 goals in a run that stretches back to February in all competitions.

In the last three seasons since the start of the 2019-20 season, Lewandowski has scored 113 goals in 93 appearances for Bayern – 36 more than any other player in Europe’s big five leagues in that time (Kylian Mbappe and Cristiano Ronaldo on 76 goals each).

He said that Lewandowski “just doesn’t stop”.

“And there’s a definite reason why he scores so many goals,” Nagelsmann said. “His whole life is directed to being a professional athlete and you can see that on the pitch.”

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