Thomas Müller brought the whole thing into his own hands. Before the second leg of his FC Bayern against Paris St. Germain, he was asked to define the club motto "Mia san Mia". The football world champion's answer: "It is the self-image of a Bavarian that he knows that he is strong, that he can win. You can sweat and then enjoy yourself. The broad chest, which is also hairy in the case of the Bavarians of origin, which then, bathed in sweat, holds up the trophy at the end.”
After the 2-0 (0-0) win in the second round of 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday evening, Müller was bathed in sweat and held up a trophy: the player of the match trophy. Now he had to show whether he optically corresponded to the image he created of the successful Bavarians. So Müller posted a shirtless photo of himself on social media and wrote underneath: "The chest is not very hairy. But sweaty and happy.”
It was not the superstars Kylian Mbappé or Lionel Messi that shaped this special evening in the Munich stadium. But the Bavarian collective around the captain and driver Müller as well as striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who made it 1-0 (61st), substitute outside attacker Serge Gnabry, who made it 2-0 (89th), and the very convincing one Defense chief Matthijs de Ligt.
It was a victory in the clash of club philosophies: Here FC Bayern, proud of its solid management and tradition. Since PSG, which has built up a star ensemble with billions of euros from Qatar. "You can see that you can't do everything with money alone," said club president Herbert Hainer when he proudly came out of the stadium catacombs around midnight. He did not mention that Bayern's squad also costs a lot of money and that Munich recently invested millions in new players.
Bayern were lucky too. After goalkeeper Yann Sommer lost the ball, PSG professional Vitinha should have made it 1-0, but De Ligt saved just before the goal line. You have to "earn your luck through diligence," said Müller. "We had that one moment. If it's 1-0, you don't know how the teams will react to it." The Swiss summer announced with a wink that de Ligt would "get a truck full of chocolate from me to my front door" as thanks for his rescue effort".
Going through against Paris without conceding a goal in two games – that is a signal to the international competition. Not everything is going perfectly at Bayern, in the first half the room layout was not optimal several times. But the phase of weakness at the beginning of the year has been overcome.
Everyone in the club is broadcasting "Mia san Mia" again. The team presented itself tactically mature, controlled and efficient. The team acts more as a unit again. In Müller, there is a strong leader who Nagelsmann is now always playing again.
Many now even see Bayern as favorites for the title, also because of their broad squad: Nagelsmann switched on the stars Gnabry, Sadio Mané, Leroy Sané and Joao Cancelo against PSG. The German record champions have won all of their eight games this season in the Champions League and kept a clean sheet in the premier class for the fourth time in a row. "I don't see anyone who is stronger than us," said Hainer, looking at the other teams remaining in the competition.
It was an immensely important victory, especially for Julian Nagelsmann. The only 35-year-old coach had emphasized earlier in the week that the season rating is largely dependent on this game.
In the previous season, he failed with Bayern in the quarter-finals of the premier class at outsiders FC Villarreal. At the beginning of the second half of the season, his team lost a comfortable lead in the Bundesliga as leaders. Manuel Neuer's injury, the release of his goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic, Gnabry's trip to Paris Fashion Week on the day of regeneration and Nagelsmann's insults against a referee fueled the unrest around FC Bayern.
Nagelsmann is currently doing a very good job as a coach – and is able to withstand the enormous pressure that is on him. The team follows him. This is one of the most important lessons for the club from these meetings with Paris. There were two victories against the doubts about Nagelsmann that could be heard and felt around the club in the past few weeks.
Nagelsmann has the team alternate between a three-man and a four-man defense and has made the courageous decision to use 22-year-old Josip Stanisic instead of the more experienced Cancelo in full-back at this stage of the season. His match plan worked. And he doesn't shy away from putting established professionals like Cancelo, Gnabry or Sané on the bench. The risk that Nagelsmann took was worth it. For the coach it was the most important victory in his one and a half year tenure at Bayern.
A reporter asked PSG coach Christophe Galtier if it was also a tactical victory for Nagelsmann. The 56-year-old Frenchman replied: "You can put it that way. A tactical victory for my colleague, perhaps.”
The crux of the second leg, however, was that no goal was scored in the first half. The French newspaper L'Equipe writes: "At the foot of a peak in the Arena, PSG stayed at the bottom of the pass, their legs severed by a Bayern Munich who, while not exactly flashy, played mature enough to crush them."
It was a special football evening in Munich. Not a brilliant victory, but a trend-setting success that can carry this team far in this season in the Champions League, which is so important for Nagelsmann. Despite all the problems in the Bundesliga, internationally they have been spot on so far.
"If we combine maximum greed and emotionality with the quality we have, then we can achieve anything," said the Munich coach. On Friday next week, the European association Uefa will draw the quarter-finals. In addition to Bayern, Chelsea, AC Milan and Benfica Lisbon have all qualified so far.
Mbappé went to the Paris team bus disappointed Wednesday night. Probably the best striker in the world said of Bayern: "A great team, a great squad. They have a team that is made to win the Champions League."
Nagelsmann emphasized this week that winning the title was one of his greatest wishes. The final will take place in Istanbul on June 10th. Then it's about the trophy, which really counts for a real Bavarian.