E.There were a few moments when Hansi Flick seemed to be wondering why he hadn’t left the down, which was obviously much too warm for him, in the cabin. In any case, the FC Bayern coach walked up and down the entire second half with his winter coat wide open, while his assistant Hermann Gerland sat on the bench with a woolen hat and thick jacket, appropriate to the cold temperatures.
But there was no reason Flick really worked up a sweat that evening. His team did what had to be done, even more than was necessary in the second leg of the Champions League round of 16 against Lazio. The 4: 1 in the first game in Italy was followed by a 2: 1 in Munich. This is the 19th time that the defending champions are in the quarter-finals of the premier class – more often than any other team since the competition was launched.
“We wanted to show that we want to win every game. That’s our DNA, ”said Joshua Kimmich. Although the appearance was “not a brilliant achievement”, as he admitted. But it didn’t have to be. “We already had the first leg result in the back of our minds,” said the Munich midfielder, and for that it was “done very well”.
“The game was a bit tough”
The opponent started with as little hope of turning the game around as the Munich team had doubts that they would still miss the quarter-finals. Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi had spared a few of his best players, including striker Ciro Immobile, given the hopelessness. Above all, the Italians tried not to be shown again like three weeks earlier. This time, Lazio “defended well and cleverly narrowed the space,” said Flick.
So the game was “a bit tough,” as Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting put it. “There weren’t that many 100% chances.” He used one of them himself to make it 2-0 (73rd minute), he scored just two minutes after being substituted on. The opening goal was scored by Robert Lewandowski in the first half, with a converted penalty (33rd), which you didn’t necessarily have to whistle. Vedat Muriqi had pulled Leon Goretzka slightly in the penalty area, but the man from Munich gladly accepted the invitation to fall.
The fact that Bayern did not concede without conceding a goal in this game, Alexander Nübel, who had previously been almost unemployed for the ailing Manuel Neuer, had no chance at Marco Parolo’s header to make it 1: 2 (82nd), was “a downer” for Flick. – but in the end no more than a side note.
Because at FC Bayern the focus has not been on sport for a long time, but rather the future of Flick at FC Bayern and even more the relationship between coach and sports director Hasan Salihamidzic, which should not be the best due to differing views on squad planning.
Even on the fringes of the Champions League game, it was primarily about differences of opinion and only secondarily about the duel with Lazio, which was no longer very tense anyway due to the clear victory in the first leg.
The conflict and the public discussion seem to have left no mark on the players. It was never “an issue in the cabin,” assures Choupo-Moting. Kimmich does not see “that this is a great burden for us as a team”, but thinks it would be “nicer when there is calm and there is no internal explosive to the outside”.
Internal disruptions are just as much a part of the FC Bayern DNA as quoted by Kimmich, as is the will to win and greed, but those involved also know that they can endanger success in the long term. After the game, Flick reported on a clarifying conversation with Salihamidzic when asked. “We approached each other and got rid of that – entirely in the spirit of the association”. He left it open, however, whether this rapprochement happened of his own accord or on the initiative of the boss.
Even before the kick-off, he had expressed understanding for the TV broadcaster Sky for Salihamidzic’s new signings last autumn, whose performance so far had not yet met the demands of FC Bayern. “Especially in the Corona period, it is not easy for a sports director to get players,” said the Bayern coach. “Then we said we wanted to add players across the board. We did that. ”It’s a nice attempt to focus more on the team’s chase for the title. But probably not a very successful one.
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