FC Bayern start preparing for the second half of the Bundesliga season on Tuesday. The situation after the World Cup, which was modest for many players, is complicated. First and foremost is the goalkeeper question, coach Nagelsmann wants clarity.
VLast top players, World Cup aftermath, hectic goalkeeper search – FC Bayern starts the new year with a complicated situation. Board boss Oliver Kahn, sports director Hasan Salihamidzic and trainer Julian Nagelsmann have a lot of work to do in order to steer the challenging World Cup season to the desired happy pictures in May and June.
On Tuesday, after the holiday with medical tests and performance diagnostics, the football professionals of the Bundesliga table leaders will start their winter preparations – and in all likelihood without the goalkeeper replacement for the seriously injured Manuel Neuer. The solution to the wintry royal personality is becoming more and more a question of price and time for the German series champion.
Gladbach’s Yann Sommer (34) is now being traded as the first option, initially for the second half of the season. But possibly beyond that, even if Captain Neuer (36) wants to return to the Bayern goal in his old strength after breaking his leg in the summer. Sports director Salihamidzic, who was able to celebrate his 46th birthday on New Year’s Eve, is expected to do so in the coming days. Because head coach Nagelsmann wants to have the new goalkeeper in the training camp. On Friday, the Bayern entourage will fly to Qatar, so time is of the essence. Mister X stayed exactly two weeks to get used to the Bayern defense before the first league game at RB Leipzig.
Rummenigge’s comparison with the 2018 World Cup
The fact that Qatar is the first travel destination in 2023 because of the sponsorship contract with Qatar Airways puts the focus on the Munich World Cup aftermath. For a number of national players, especially the Germans around Joshua Kimmich and Thomas Müller, the World Cup was a sporting disaster. Does that leave a crack? “I don’t believe that the World Cup will have any negative after-effects,” says Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. The 67-year-old is a knowledgeable contact person for classifying the current Bayern situation. After all, he had led the record champions in his capacity as CEO for two decades.
“In 2018 the players came back from the World Cup in Russia with great disappointment. They then compensated for their frustration with great ambition in the Bundesliga and gave their all at FC Bayern,” Rummenigge recalled the comparable situation four years ago. Bayern became German champions and DFB Cup winners in 2019.
Rummenigge is more concerned about the personnel situation. “With Manuel Neuer, Lucas Hernández and Sadio Mané, three top performers are now missing. Of course, I wish for the new year that no other players get injured,” he told the German Press Agency. In addition to Neuer, defender Hernández (torn cruciate ligament) is also out for the rest of the season. And with star striker Mané it is unclear when he will be able to start chasing goals again after an operation on his fibula shortly before the World Cup.
All eyes on the duel with PSG
“I know whether Mané will be fit in time for the Champions League round of 16 against Paris Saint-Germain,” said Rummenigge. The first leg will take place on February 14 in Paris’s Prinzenpark. The outcome of this tingling showdown could be decisive for the remainder of the season. The four-point advantage in the Bundesliga over the surprise second SC Freiburg offers “the best conditions for the championship to be awarded to Munich again in 2023,” says Rummenigge: “But we also know that in the Champions League the The horizon of expectations this season is very high.” Bayern want to fight for the handle pot to the end this time.
The early duel with the Paris star ensemble “could also be a Champions League final,” as Rummenigge noted. When Munich won the final in 2020 in Lisbon against PSG, he was still Bayern boss. Rummenigge sees his Bavarians facing a huge challenge: “The two best players in the World Cup, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé, play for PSG. Messi capped his fantastic career with the World Cup and Mbappé was top scorer in Qatar. So the offensive potential of Paris is à la bonne heure.”
Rummenigge was also impressed by Bayern’s outstanding performance in the period just before the long World Cup break. “I was really impressed by how the team got back up after weeks without winning a game.”
Nagelsmann would like to build on this. “It was a turbulent half-year, one of the most turbulent in my professional life so far,” was the interim conclusion of the 35-year-old in November. He is likely to experience exciting and turbulent times again in 2023 as Bayern coach.