Nagelsmann: Neymar absence 'does not change much' for Bayern's approach

By Sports Desk March 07, 2023

Julian Nagelsmann says Neymar's absence for Paris Saint-Germain "does not change much" in terms of Bayern Munich's approach heading into Wednesday's showdown.

Bayern welcome PSG to the Allianz Arena boasting a 1-0 advantage from last month's Champions League last-16 first leg, courtesy of Kingsley Coman's second-half goal.

Neymar failed to have much of an impact in the reverse fixture, whereas Mbappe caused Bayern's defenders plenty of problems in the final 30 minutes after being brought on.

The France international, returning from a thigh injury ahead of schedule, forced Yann Sommer into a good save and had a couple of goals ruled out for offside.

With Mbappe now fit enough to play a full part, Nagelsmann believes PSG will cope just fine without Neymar, who has been ruled out for the season with an ankle injury.

"It doesn't change much," Nagelsmann said at Tuesday's pre-match press conference when asked about Neymar being ruled out. 

"Mbappe plays from the start – that changes something. PSG have a clear idea with Lionel Messi and Mbappe up front. We have to prevent passes to Messi. 

"We also have to be patient. We know we can't defend every attack, so Yann will also have a part to play in goal."

Mbappe has 30 goals in 30 games this season – only Manchester City striker Erling Haaland can better that tally across Europe's top five leagues, with 33 goals in 34 games.

The 2022 World Cup Golden Boot winner is aiming to become the first ever player to score in three successive visits to Bayern in the Champions League.

He claimed last week that PSG remain favourites to advance to the quarter-finals, despite being a goal down, but Bayern attacker Thomas Muller does not agree.

"Everyone can assess that for themselves," he said. "We won the first leg 1-0; I think that's an advantage. 

"But a one-goal deficit can always be caught up in football. I understand his opinion, he has a lot of self-confidence.

"He is a player who poses a threat to us. You have to think about how to prevent this. It's still a team sport. We have to block the passes and be courageous in duels."

While there is no questioning the quality of Messi and Mbappe in PSG's attack, they have struggled defensively at times this season.

Indeed, the Ligue 1 leaders are the only side left in the Champions League yet to keep a clean sheet in the competition this campaign.

"Their defence isn't a weakness," Nagelsmann said. "We have developed an idea for tomorrow in terms of how we can hurt them.

"We don't want to focus just on defending our lead; we want to also score goals ourselves."

Bayern have been eliminated just twice on the 22 previous occasions they have won the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie.

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