Bayern Munich extended their unbeaten run in the Champions League group stage to 40 games with a 1-0 win over Manchester United on Tuesday. Thanks to a goal from Kingsley Coman (71′), the record-breaking winner won the game beyond doubt. As a result, Bayern move up with 16 points and former English giants Man United are out of Europe entirely.
It wasn’t long ago that Bayern looked at Group A’s table with some degree of satisfaction, and with the knowledge that they held Man United last, they couldn’t challenge them for the title. However, those days seem long gone now, with Man United so far from a possible Champions League title that they would put humans on Mars.
In reality, the biggest contenders for Champions League titles will be other teams. First and foremost, Man City. But the club coached by former Bayern coach Pep Guardiola will not be the only challengers. Real Madrid, Barcelona and PSG will all be potential challengers for the European crown if they progress on Wednesday.
„We can achieve everything,” goalkeeper Manuel Neuer told AmazonAMZN Prime when asked about Bayern’s goals in the Champions League. „The way we play, we can be a team that can play for the title in the Champions League. However, it is difficult to predict. Depends on the daily format and the enemies you face. But the atmosphere in the club is perfect.
Indeed, Bayern Munich may have had an incredible run in the Champions League group stage. But the other side of a 40-game unbeaten streak is the record-breaking 2020 title-clincher against Paris Saint-Germain, who have not reached the tournament’s final four.
PSG is, in fact, the team to eliminate Bayern in 2021 in the quarter-finals. Then, a year later, in 2022, the final stop was Villarreal, and then last year, Manchester City eliminated Bayern. That decision was frustrating, especially as Bayern sacked Julian Nagelsmann and replaced him with Thomas Tuchel, despite playing a perfect Champions League campaign. Later, he guided Bayern to a 1–1 draw in a 3–0 defeat against Man City.
What will happen in 2024? Neuer hinted at that in his post-game interview with Amazon Prime. The group stage will depend on the draw once it concludes on Wednesday. „When we won the World Cup in 2014, everything was in place,” Neuer said.
Unlike the group stage, which Bayern have dominated for five years now, the knockout stage offers an opportunity that has plagued Bayern in the past. The recent result against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga, or four consecutive years of relegation from the Rekordmeister DFB Bundesliga, highlights the dangers of knockout competitions for Bayern.
Moments of madness hurt Bayern in the Champions League against Villarreal two years ago. In other words, Bayern will be in perfect form to win their seventh Champions League trophy, despite being one of the title favourites.
Hosted by Manuel Veth Bundesliga Counter Pressure Podcast and area manager in the USA Exchange market. He has also been published in the Guardian, Newsweek, Howler, Pro Soccer USA and many other outlets. Follow him on Twitter: @manuelved And in texts: @Manuved
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