CHENNAI: There is no denying Bayern Munich’s insatiable hunger for success. Having won an incredible six titles last year, Bayern are closing in on a record ninth straight Bundesliga title this season. Yet their biggest test will await them when they face Paris St-Germain in the Champions League quarter-finals in a repeat of last season’s final.
While the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe will be aiming to avenge the Lisbon final defeat, holders Bayern will be without their talismanic striker Robert Lewandowski, who is nursing a knee injury and is ruled out of both the home leg at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday and the return leg in Paris next Tuesday.
But Bayern’s old warhorse Thomas Mueller remained optimistic despite the pressing challenges. “It should be interesting to have a repeat of the final again. Having played against them, our players know how good a team PSG is. They have great players who are very good in attack. We are also aware about how desperately they want to win the Champions League. It’s their big goal and they will come hard at us after missing out last season. The likes of Neymar and Mbappe will be extra motivated. So we have to remain alert and cannot let our intensity drop,” Mueller said in quotes shared by Bayern Munich exclusively with TOI.
The 31-year-old midfielder though concedes that it will be difficult for Bayern to replace Lewandowski. In fact, a large part of Bayern’s success was due to the fruitful partnership between Mueller and Lewandowski. The pair has produced 55 goals between them in all competitions this season too.
“It’s not easy to lose our best goalscorer. But we have to accept it as injuries are part and parcel of football even though it has come at an inopportune moment for us. But I believe we have a good depth in our squad and there are a few quality players who can help us fill the hole. It is a challenge for us and Lewa’s absence should inspire us to win the match for him,” the World Cup winner said.
However, it’s not only Lewa that Bayern will be missing. Serge Gnabry, who was deemed to be Lewa’s replacement, is down with a sore throat and doubtful for the contest. PSG, on the other hand, will be missing defender Alessandro Florenzi and midfielder Marco Verratti, both of whom tested positive for Covid.
Mueller said that PSG match is the perfect opportunity for Bayern to prove that they are the best in the business. “The Champions League has always been special for us. We know PSG are a tough opponent but I have always enjoyed playing against the biggest names of football in this competition. It is only when you win against the top teams you prove your worth. So we have to remain confident in our abilities,” Mueller concluded.