Julian Nagelsmann is particularly tingling before the duel between champions and runners-up and before the groundbreaking RB weeks for FC Bayern.
“Of course, from a personal point of view, if you’ve been somewhere for two years, it’s a bit more special than other games,” said the Munich coach before the reunion with ex-club RB Leipzig.
The 34-year-old predicted an exciting top game for the fans’ comeback in the Allianz Arena: “We’re in a good mood, Leipzig is in a good mood again – that usually contributes to a good Bundesliga game.”
And in the Champions League on February 16, the round of 16 first leg at Leipzig’s partner club RB Salzburg heralds the hot phase in Europe.
FC Bayern full of anticipation for a top game
Nagelsmann is not the only one looking forward to “an exciting game” on Saturday (6:30 p.m. / Sky) and the end of an unusual international break without German or other European national soccer players being assigned. “The burning glass is now a bit sharper,” said vice-captain Thomas Müller.
After the Corona shock at the beginning of the year, when a total of 13 professionals were missing in the 2-1 draw against Borussia Mönchengladbach, Nagelsmann was able to prepare his team for the league showdown and the start of the knockout games in just under two weeks with several training sessions.
In the league, in which Munich leads the table with 49 points ahead of Dortmund (43), there is “a healthy arc of tension,” said Müller and warned: “Our cushion at the top of the table has melted, we don’t need to lose any more points. “
Home win in front of spectators the goal
Against Leipzig, which has stabilized after a disappointing episode under Jesse Marsch in the tenure of Nagelsmann’s sidekick Domenico Tedesco, Munich are aiming for another win. Especially because for the first time since the end of November, the game will be played in front of spectators at home again. “We hope that we can celebrate the fans’ first visit together with three points,” said Nagelsmann.
He and the supporters will have to do without Leon Goretzka (knee problems), Alphonso Davies (heart muscle inflammation) and Africa Cup of Nations participants Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Bouna Sarr.
The new Munich coach worked successfully for the Saxons for two years, with whom he reached the cup final in 2021 and became runner-up.
“I had a very nice time there. Not just with those in charge, but above all with the players,” Nagelsmann recalled. “I know that they are most likely all motivated, but that has nothing to do with me per se, but rather with my own goals.”
The game will also be special for ex-Leipzig players Dayot Upamecano and Marcel Sabitzer, who, like Nagelsmann, have moved to Munich. In the overall package, almost 80 million euros flowed to Leipzig.
RB Leipzig back in shape
Leipzig was the only Bundesliga club to win all four competitive games this year and worked their way up from tenth place at the winter break to sixth place – and within three points of a place in the Champions League.
“It’s not a bonus game for us,” Tedesco said. A win should come and the depressing record against Bayern should be improved. Leipzig won just one of 13 competitive games. “We should think about winning rather than losing,” warned goalkeeper and captain Peter Gulacsi. Bayern won the first leg 4-1.
The class reunion on the sidelines adds a special touch to the showdown between the big industry leader and the upstart who has made his mark in the league establishment. Nagelsmann and Tedesco completed the football instructor course together and even formed a carpool.
“In the end, it’s not the two Hansels who are waving around on the sidelines that matter, but who has the better players who are in better shape on the day, who have more desire and more greed,” said Nagelsmann.
Nagelsmann recognizes “huge potential” at RB
Especially in such top games, the Munich team regularly convinces. Despite difficult phases this season, Nagelsmann continues to see “huge potential” at the former club, as he emphasized.
“They are one of the most interesting teams in Europe,” said the 34-year-old. Tedesco will “tease out” a few more things. He is missing the American Tyler Adams (strain) and Marcel Halstenberg (back problems), who was injured throughout the season.
Leipzig at home, Bochum away – and then it really starts for world footballer Robert Lewandowski & Co. on the premier class stage against RB Salzburg. “It feels to me like the Champions League can be a big thing for us this year,” said Müller. “February is getting antsy.”