Julian Nagelsmann believes Bayern Munich would have won by an even greater margin had they not taken their foot of the pedal in Wednesday’s comprehensive Champions League win over Barcelona.
Bayern outclassed and overpowered Barca 3-0 midweek, a result that eliminated the embattled LaLiga giants from the Champions League.
Thomas Muller, Leroy Sane and Jamal Musiala were on target for Group E winners Bayern, who progressed to the knockout phase with a 100 per cent record.
Bayern led 2-0 at half-time thanks to Muller and Sane before Musiala netted a third just past the hour-mark at Allianz Arena.
With 22 goals scored and just three conceded, Bayern’s goal difference of plus-19 during the group stages has only been bettered once before in Champions League history – Paris Saint-Germain in 2017-18 (+21 – F25 A4).
Afterwards, Bayern head coach Nagelsmann felt Barca were fortunate not to have conceded more in Munich.
“We played against an opponent who, of course, has a very big name and actually had to win today,” Nagelsmann told DAZN.
“We have never really let it unfold properly. In the second half we clearly defended deeper and let them have the ball a little more, but I believe that if we put it on properly, then we could have scored significantly more goals than three.”
Along with Liverpool and Ajax, Bayern became the third side this season to win all six Champions League group-stage matches.
This is the first campaign to see more than one team manage this in the same season, whilst the German outfit are just the second team ever to do so on more than one occasion (also in 2019-20), alongside Real Madrid (2011-12 and 2014-15).
Asked if Bayern are favourites to win the Champions League, Nagelsmann replied: “It’s always a huge topic for the journalists: ‘Who is the favourite?’ You can write a lot about it. In the end, it’s a fact that in the knockout stage there are more factors.
“Sometimes the daily performance is decisive or some lucky moments. You don’t have time to bring something back in order if you made some mistakes before. Of course, all teams that reach the knockout stage are some kind of favourites and can win this title. We as well. We did very well in the group stage. It’s well deserved and also today our focus was really good and we reached the next round.
“It’s our own requirement to be one of the favourites, of course. We would like to win the Champions League and some of us would like to win it again. We need to show the same performances in the knockout stage and keep the same level. I believe that my team can do this. But in the end it’s only about doing it. Now we wait for our opponent and then we will prepare for that, but there’s still some time.”
Barca – amid a financial crisis – were consigned to the Europa League/UEFA Cup for the first time since 2003-04 following their Bayern defeat.
It is the fourth time Barcelona have been eliminated in the Champions League group stage after 1997-98, 1998-99 and 2000-01, and the second time that they have fallen to the secondary European competition from the Champions League group stage following 2000-2001 (then, to play the UEFA Cup after finishing third behind Milan and Leeds United).
Barca’s tally of two goals after their six group-stage matches is their lowest recorded total in the Champions League, whilst only in 1997-98 (14) did they concede more goals at this stage than the nine they have shipped this season.
“I think that the club can bounce back,” Nagelsmann said of Barca. “It’s still one of the biggest clubs. Today we deserved the victory and in both games we showed really good performances and our wins were well deserved.
“I think Barcelona are a club with a lot of expertise and good guys. Not only Xavi, but also guys in the back who will make intelligent decisions for this club. I already said in the news conference before the game that it’s not easy to deal with more than €1billion in debt in the daily business. It’s about extremely tough decisions that need to be taken. This can take a while.
“If I think that this would happen to us, then I am sure it would take a while until we could bounce back and be successful again. I wish them all the best and I hope the club will be soon the glorious Barcelona again that we all know.”