Champions League: Struggling Bayern faces a delicate do-or-die match against Villareal

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Julian Nagelsmann is facing his biggest challenge after taking over the Bayern Munich job last summer. The outcome of his first season working for the 2020 treble winner is entirely dependent on the upcoming second leg in the Champions League quarter-final against FC Villareal.

“If we make it, the season can be seen as a good one, if not we have to revaluate things,” the 34-year-old said.

As clear season predictions might appear, much more pressing seems the issue of how to get the wavering ship back to calm waters after losing 1-0 in Spain.

Ahead of the duel against the Spaniards, Bayern seem to have lost their game dominance as team tactics don’t fit together in one piece. While the Bavarians suffer from gaps between midfield and defense, the front line seems to have lost its easiness when it comes to scoring goals.

Counting on statistics in knock-out games doesn’t help as the reigning German champion lost the last duels after losing the first leg. After seven away defeats in the first leg against Spanish clubs, Bayern could turn things around only once.

As only winning the national title isn’t enough to address the clubs’ goals, the duel against Villareal is turning into a do-or-die issue.

“They must feel our power and determination,” Nagelsmann demanded. “They must feel, we are not gambling, but take things seriously,” he added.

The unbalanced game structure is meanwhile affecting the teams’ goal performance. Only five of 38 goals after the winter break were grounded on combinations while the rest arose from counterattacks, own-goals, or free kicks and corners.

Strikers such as Thomas Muller, Robert Lewandowski, Serge Gnabry, and Leroy Sane suffer from an efficiency drop.

Nagelsmann claims to stay optimistic and get all lose-ends together in time to deliver a satisfying answer. While the Bayern coach is said to count on the robust midfielders Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka to close spaces, youngster Jamal Musiala and Kingsley Coman are expected to replace Gnabry and Sane.

Nagelsmann announced to count on intense talks with his leading players. “We talk about emotions and attitude. I am sure we can provide that; that’s why I am optimistic,” he said.

The Bayern coach announced to provide a detailed match plan including personal instructions for every player, reports Xinhua.

The coach’s message seems to reach his players’ minds.

Striker icon Muller promised in a social media message: “We will get things together and strike back.”

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer announced the team “is going to rock the arena together with our fans. We are aware it’s up to us to turn things to good.” Midfielder Goretzka spoke about a “Bayern-like performance.”

Several players said the task against Villareal isn’t only about the next round but about Bayern’s reputation on the international stage.

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