The sun was shining over Paris when FC Bayern landed in the French metropolis on Monday with a special flight. The captain of the machine wished the crew every success for the coming task over the microphone and announced a spring-like Tuesday. So everything is ready for a big football night.
After a bus ride through the afternoon traffic, the record German soccer champion arrived at the Pullman team hotel. Before the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 at Paris St. Germain on Tuesday (9 p.m., Amazon Prime Video and in the WELT live ticker), coach Julian Nagelsmann gave a press conference in the basement. "It's one of my dreams to win the Champions League," said the 35-year-old. And added with a grin: "Preferably before I can only walk bent over."
The pressure before the game is enormous after some mixed performances from his team, the focus is on the coach, the game is an indicator. How important is a win for him personally, he was asked. "I would like to progress, so that's important," said Nagelsmann. "I don't rate the trappings like that. It's obviously an important game for me personally, no question about it."
The PSG offensive to get the superstars Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé under control will be the big challenge for Munich. WORLD asked Nagelsmann in Paris: How do you stop world champion Messi? "It's only possible as a team," replied the coach. "We have to prevent as many balls as possible that could reach him." Messi is such an experienced player that it probably won't throw him off course because he wasn't able to train and play. The Argentine has been injured recently but is likely to start.
"But the focus is also on a few other players," said Nagelsmann. “Paris have two full-backs with very high offensive speed. You can't make the mistake of only focusing on the really big names in this team. We mustn’t make ourselves too small either.”
Paris must also consider how to stop Kingsley Coman, for example. “The form on the day will also be very, very decisive.” His national team friend Coman does not know whether star striker Kylian Mbappé will play from the start. Unfortunately, he has no insider information, emphasized Bayern's French international with a wink on Monday evening.
Nagelsmann said of Mbappé: "I rather assume that he will be substituted on. He might come in in the 60th minute to create counterattacks when we're a bit tired. If both (Mbappé and Messi, ed.) can play, they are so fit that they can hurt any team in the world.” Of course, it could also be the case that Mbappé plays from the start and is substituted at half-time. "Our approach then changes a bit, but we won't upset the whole plan."
Nagelsmann appeared focused and confident upon arrival in Paris. Speaking of the game's route, he said: "If we push our game, Messi and Mbappé shouldn't be given that much space. It's part of our game to narrow the spaces."
The coach explained: "It will be dangerous if they get space, then we wouldn't get our game on the field well. We want to be bold and not just stand in the back. It's an even duel, 50-50. Tuesday it will not be decided between do or die, but a way will be paved. I am very, very sure that we will make a great game. I'm looking forward to it."