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FC Bayern Munich between Stuttgart and PSG: choice, but hardly any agony



VfB Stuttgart, FC Bayern Munich

Coach Julian Nagelsmann is currently spoiled for choice at Bayern Munich, at least in theory. In practice, his starting XI for the round of 16 second leg of the Champions League against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday should be in place after the impressions of the 2-1 win at VfB Stuttgart.

FC Bayern had just taken a 2-0 lead at VfB Stuttgart through Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting when three pros moved from the Munich bench towards the sidelines: Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sané and Sadio Mané. Three absolute stars. A frightening signal to a VfB Stuttgart, which of course does not even know a single prominent player in its squad.

At this point, FC Bayern still had the nominal regular Benjamin Pavard and the two top-class winter signings Joao Cancelo and Daley Blind on the bench, along with Ryan Gravenberch and Mathys Tel, two of the most exciting young stars in Europe and, to top it off, Sven Ulreich, the long-time player Opponent’s regular keeper.

“If you look at our bench, there aren’t many better ones in Europe. And in order to achieve success, competition like this is very, very important,” said goalscorer Choupo-Moting after the game. In the course of the triple change, he had left the pitch together with the equally convincing Jamal Musiala and Kingsley Coman. Theoretically, Choupo-Moting’s statements are, of course, indisputable – but in practice it can certainly be discussed.

Coach Julian Nagelsmann currently has more options, especially on the offensive, than he has ever had since taking office at Bayern. Nevertheless, there can be no question of a really hot competition. The degraded celebrities push themselves far too little when it comes to their chances of being used. Nagelsmann has a choice, but actually hardly any agony.

Gnabry, Sané and Mané do not use their probation opportunities

Sadio Mané is only just working his way back after his three-month injury break, he can be allowed to approach slowly. The situation is different, especially with the two German national players Gnabry and Sané. Still set at the beginning of the second half of the season, they have since drawn attention to themselves with trips to Paris or being unpunctual and have lost their regular places at the same time.

Even against Union, Gnabry and Sané hardly set any accents after their substitutions, they didn’t change anything in the end result of 3-0, which was shot out early on. In Stuttgart, FC Bayern almost gambled away their comfortable 2-0 lead in the closing stages. After the triple change, the Munich team initially managed the result before they faltered badly after Juan José Perea’s goal in the 88th minute. Of course, that wasn’t just due to the substitution trio, but certainly also.

“We made some mistakes after the 2-0 win,” criticized Leon Goretzka. “We have to finish this more seriously,” added Nagelsmann. The coach was particularly annoyed that “after the 2-0 win we didn’t finish three or four very good counterattack situations well”.

FC Bayern: This is how Nagelsmann justified the triple change

Nagelsmann was then asked whether the triple change was a mistake. “Who did I substitute?” He countered with a counter-question. “The players have the right to show themselves for Wednesday. These are not three youth players.”

As a reminder: The most important game of the season so far takes place on Wednesday. In the round of 16 second leg of the Champions League against Paris Saint-Germain, it is important to gild the 1-0 win in the first leg with progress. Nagelsmann wanted to give Gnabry, Sané and Mané one last chance of probation – but nobody should have moved him to seriously rethink the starting eleven.

Meanwhile, he didn’t even give Cancelo that chance: After a strong start, the loan from Manchester City only came from the bench before it was even substituted in Stuttgart. In the 82nd minute, Nagelsmann brought on Gravenberch and Pavard for Goretzka and Thomas Müller.

FC Bayern: That’s why Joao Cancelo wasn’t substituted on

The fact that the in-form Pavard was missing from the starting eleven was only due to his suspension against PSG. In order for the planned team to warm up for the big duel on Wednesday, Nagelsmann again relied on Josip Stanisic as the right link of a hybrid three-four back against Stuttgart. As against Union, the home-grown team showed a rock-solid performance. The disappointing blind in his only starting eleven against Borussia Mönchengladbach (2: 3) should not dispute his starting place against PSG any more than Cancelo.

Significantly, Nagelsmann preferred to take into account the feelings of Pavard, who was suspended on Wednesday, in the final phase, than to give the city loan a chance to prove itself. “Benji is having a very, very good season. It’s his former club, he knows a lot here,” explained Nagelsmann. “I wanted to give him a few minutes as a reward for the good performances of the last few weeks. It wasn’t against Cancelo, it was more for Benji.”

If there are no more injuries, Nagelsmann should have the same starting eleven against PSG as against Stuttgart. “Large parts of it” he confirmed and one name explicitly: Thomas Müller. “If he is healthy, he will play,” said Nagelsmann.

Nagelsmann had already emphasized at the press conference before the Stuttgart game that he wanted to “develop a base” for the decisive phase of the season: “You need players who feel trust over a longer period of time.” Gnabry, Sané, Cancelo and Mané – due to his injury break – are currently not included.

FC Bayern vs. BVB: The rest of the program in the Bundesliga

Gameday BVB FC Bayern
24 Schalke 04 (A) FC Augsburg (H)
25 1. FC Cologne (H) Bayer Leverkusen (A)
26 Bayern Munich (A) Borussia Dortmund (H)
27 Union Berlin (H) SC Freiburg (A)
28 VfB Stuttgart (A) TSG Hoffenheim (H)
29 Eintracht Frankfurt (H) Mainz 05 (A)
30 VfL Bochum (A) Hertha BSC (H)
31 VfL Wolfsburg (H) Werder Bremen (A)
32 Borussia M’Gladbach (H) Schalke 04 (H)
33 FC Augsburg (A) RB Leipzig (H)
34 Mainz 05 (H) 1. FC Cologne (A)