Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann says Sadio Mane has his "full backing" after coming in for criticism in recent weeks.

Mane started well following his move from Liverpool, scoring three goals in his first three Bundesliga appearances, but he has not netted in the league since while Bayern have been held to three consecutive draws.

In the midweek Champions League victory over Barcelona, Mane was substituted with 20 minutes to play having failed to attempt a shot or create a chance.

This apparent slump was put to Nagelsmann ahead of Saturday's game at Augsburg, but the coach is not concerned.

"It's quite normal that you are dissatisfied at first when things are not going well," Nagelsmann said on Friday. "He does a lot of self reflection and knows when he's played well and when he's maybe not played so well.

"He will produce his best again. He has my full backing and will score and assist plenty more goals for us."

Another recent addition who is struggling to make an impact is midfielder Ryan Gravenberch, with just one start in the DFB-Pokal since his move from Ajax, and Nagelsmann has outlined where the 20-year-old needs to improve.

"He has played too few games for his abilities, which is also due to the competition," Nagelsmann said. "First of all, you need a basic structure, which we had with Sabi [Marcel Sabitzer] and Josh [Kimmich].

"Now Leon [Goretzka] is back, who did very well against Barca. He has a lot of competition. He can also play further forward, but the competition is not small. He is a young player who needs acclimatisation time.

"He is incredibly talented. Defensively, he still has to take a few steps. That's why he plays a bit less. We need a good balance in the position. He knows that defensively he still has to work a bit harder.

"Sometimes he struggles a bit too much for me with mistakes. That's why he always has a second of thought in counter-pressing, where he is annoyed that the ball is gone. But he has already developed. I'm sure he'll play a lot with us."

Leon Goretzka says he is "annoyed" by reports about unrest within the Bayern Munich squad which he claims are not true.

Bayern and head coach Julian Nagelsmann have come under pressure following three straight Bundesliga draws, but they maintained their winning start in the Champions League with a 2-0 victory over Barcelona on Tuesday.

There have been reports of friction within the Bayern squad towards Nagelsmann, with issues including rotation and game time.

Goretzka came off the bench at half-time and played a key role in Bayern's win over Barcelona, with both goals coming in the second half. The appearance was only the 27-year-old midfielder's fifth of the season in all competitions after missing six weeks late in pre-season following knee surgery.

Bild claimed this week that the Germany international, along with new Dutch addition Ryan Gravenberch, were unhappy with their playing time this season, with the former specifically irritated when he learned he was not starting against the Blaugrana.

The report claimed that Goretzka felt his training performances warranted a starting position but Nagelsmann preferred Marcel Sabitzer in midfield to offer defensive stability to allow Joshua Kimmich to be more offensive minded.

"I promised myself that I'd not say anything about it because my words might be interpreted in a different way," Goretzka told reporters after Tuesday's win. "I have no problem with the coach not starting me today.

"I was out for six weeks and it was clear that I wouldn't play from the start. Sabi did a great job.

"These alleged problems in the dressing room are conveyed in a way that really annoys me. We get along really well in the team."

Leroy Sane, who netted Bayern's second goal in the 54th minute, threw a bottle in frustration after being substituted off in the 80th minute.

Sane embraced Nagelsmann along with teammates on the bench before throwing the bottle and going down the tunnel.

"I wasn't angry about my substitution," Sane explained.

"The bottle had to suffer a bit because I didn't play a good game. The goal was nice, but I wasn't entirely happy with my performance today."

Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer believes his side were "lucky" not to concede to Robert Lewandowski on his return to Bavaria.

The Poland international has been in sensational form since joining Barcelona, scoring a hat-trick on his Champions League debut for the Blaugrana against Viktoria Plzen last week, but he was unable to add to his tally at the Allianz Arena.

Lewandowski was thwarted by former team-mate Neuer from a close-range header after he had squandered an opportunity on the volley, blazing his attempt over the crossbar.

Both chances could have easily been taken by Lewandowski, and Neuer admitted that Bayern had benefitted from good fortune in their 2-0 victory.

"I think it was an emotional game for Lewy because he was very successful here in Munich. But we also know him as an opponent. Luck was not on his side in crucial moments," he told reporters.

"We're lucky that he sent that volley over the bar and I was there in the second chance. We showed a good defensive performance today."

Julian Nagelsmann also thought Lewandowski performed well despite failing to find the back of the net, acknowledging the majority of the pre-match talk centred on Bayern's reunion with the striker.

"I think he played a good game, I'm happy from our perspective that he didn't score. We saw that he was dangerous, we were able to defend him very well," he said.

"I saw him after the game and hugged him but he plays for a different club now, I have a lot of players I have to look out for.

"This week, I probably had 60 questions on Lewandowski, you can pose those questions to Xavi because he's not my player anymore."

Barcelona head coach Xavi, meanwhile, believes Lewandowski did not get overwhelmed by the occasion, stating: "I don't think he could have been pressured, with his maturity and experience. 

"It is a lack of effectiveness. It's football and this happens. And it happens in the stadium where it couldn't happen."

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann praised the second-half turnaround of his side in their 2-0 Champions League victory over Barcelona.

Manuel Neuer was called into action twice in the opening 45 minutes on Tuesday to deny former teammate Robert Lewandowski, with Barcelona having 10 attempts on goal in the first period – the highest first-half tally of any visiting side to the Allianz Arena in the competition since Fiorentina's 11 in October 2008.

Bayern improved after the break, though, taking the sort of opportunities Barcelona had squandered with Lucas Hernandez scoring from a corner and Leroy Sane quickly doubling the scoreline.

Nagelsmann was encouraged by the response of his side and their ruthless nature in the final third, having struggled in that regard in recent Bundesliga draws with Stuttgart and Borussia Monchengladbach.

"In the first half, we left the centre open a little bit too much," Nagelsmann said. "We didn't really have the best opportunities, but we had three or four great wins of the ball where Jamal [Musiala] didn't realise how open he was.

"Barca had the better chances because we were missing the final chance. Still, we can rely on Manuel Neuer who could save some great shots.

"In the second half, we were able to defend a lot better because we looked at a couple of things during the break; I was very happy with that.

"We were able to score that first goal from the corner, then we were able to score the second quickly after – we were able to open up Barcelona.

"It wasn't always easy to defend. We were strong in the second half, they were strong in the first half; we had those situations that we were able to show that we didn't show against Stuttgart or Gladbach, and in the end we won."

Although Bayern were able to secure what may prove to be a valuable victory, having already beaten Inter in this group stage, Sadio Mane had a quiet night, failing to attempt a shot or create a chance for a team-mate.

But Nagelsmann said: "He played a new position today that he didn't play as much in the last year at Liverpool. It's just normal with a new player who we still have to integrate, who is in a different team.

"I said last week: I'm hoping he pulls a couple of things to him and gets a little bit more confidence. We're very happy to have him, and we're trying to get him into our game."

It is not a reunion that any Bayern Munich fan will be relishing when Robert Lewandowski returns to the Allianz Arena on Tuesday.

Just a few months ago they were cheering goal after goal the Poland striker was scoring for their team, something he had done with tremendous consistency ever since arriving from Borussia Dortmund.

Then came the news none of them will have wanted to hear, that Lewandowski wanted a new challenge.

After a surprising amount of unpleasantness between player and club during the transfer window, the 34-year-old got his wish and made the move to Barcelona for a reported fee of €50million.

With a sense of inevitability as the balls were opened by former Barca midfielder Yaya Toure during the draw for the group stage of the Champions League, who should Bayern be joined by in Group C along with Inter and Viktoria Plzen? Of course, Barcelona.

Ahead of Lewandowski lining up on the opposing side in Munich, Stats Perform has taken a look at what he achieved at Bayern, and how both parties have adapted in the early stages of the new campaign.

The man they called "Lewan-goal-ski" (well, Thomas Muller did)

Of course, Bayern could not feel too bad about having their main goalscorer taken from them, considering that is exactly what they did to chief Bundesliga rivals Dortmund when they signed Lewandowski on a free transfer in 2014.

Inevitably, it turned out to be a key move as BVB fell away after struggling to replace him, while Lewandowski went on to score an exceptional number of goals at his new home.

Overall, he scored 344 goals and recorded 57 assists in 375 appearances for Bayern, and in the 2020-21 campaign, he broke Gerd Muller's long-standing Bundesliga record by scoring 41 times in a single season, while his 43 league goals in 2021 serve as the record for a calendar year in Germany's top tier.

Last season, Lewandowski scored 50 goals across all competitions, the most across Europe's top five leagues, as Bayern lifted their 10th Bundesliga title in a row.

In all, he won eight league titles, three DFB-Pokal's, as well as a Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.

After that, it was 'Lewan-gone-ski', as team-mate Thomas Muller may well have called him after his departure, before holding far too long for applause.

What is 11 minus a nine?

With arguably the best number nine in the game gone, Bayern head coach Julian Nagelsmann wanted to evolve his team, making them less reliant on one figure for so many goals and spreading the responsibility.

Sadio Mane joined from Liverpool as the de facto replacement, and before the DFL-Super Cup win against RB Leipzig, Nagelsmann admitted: "When we agreed to Barcelona's offer [for Lewandowski], it was planned that we might not sign anyone else for this position."

The theory was that the likes of Mane, Leroy Sane, Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry, fresh from signing a new contract, could increase their output in front of goal, while the ever reliable Muller and the increasingly promising Jamal Musiala would also be potent sources.

Things certainly started well enough with a 5-3 win against Leipzig, followed by a 6-1 thrashing of Eintracht Frankfurt in their opening Bundesliga game.

After a 2-0 victory at home to Wolfsburg, Bayern put seven past Bochum and talk of a lack of goals could not have been further from anyone's lips.

However, three draws in a row in the league against Borussia Monchengladbach, Union Berlin and Stuttgart have followed, which has seen Union emerge as the surprise Bundesliga leaders after six games.

In those games, Bayern have scored a total of 19 goals, with 10 different scorers, registering 12 points in the Bundesliga.

By comparison, in their first six league games last season when Lewandowski was still front and centre for them, they scored 23 goals, though with only seven different scorers, and the Pole providing seven goals of his own, and had 16 points after five wins and just one draw.

In their opening Champions League game, though, Nagelsmann's men put in a terrific performance as they beat Inter 2-0 at San Siro, with their second goal in particular showcasing the sort of passing and moving around the box that feels more possible when you don't have an orthodox number nine as the obvious target.

Lewandowski picks up in Spain where he left off in Germany

Though it took a bit of, shall we say, moving things around so Barcelona could register their new star striker, along with a number of other signings in the transfer window, there has been very little adaptation needed for Lewandowski in LaLiga.

He has already scored six goals in his first five league games, making him the fastest player to reach that figure in the competition in the 21st century.

The forward also has two assists, which makes him the joint-fastest to have been involved in eight goals in the 21st century, alongside former Barca players Rafael van der Vaart in 2008 and Cesc Fabregas in 2011.

Lewandowski also added three more goals to his impressive total in the Champions League with a hat-trick in Barca's 5-1 win against Viktoria Plzen at Camp Nou last week.

That made him outright third in the competition's all-time leading scorers with 89 goals in 107 appearances, behind only Lionel Messi (125 goals in 157 games) and Cristiano Ronaldo (140 goals in 183 games).

Of course, Lewandowski has recent history of this fixture, playing for Bayern as they beat Barca 3-0 home and away in last season's Champions League group stage, scoring twice in the first game in Spain.

It played a big part in the Catalan giants being dumped out of the competition at that stage for the first time in over 20 years, but with Lewandowski on board, Xavi's side will be hoping he can fire them to the round of 16 and beyond, just as he did so regularly for Bayern.

Lewandowski has already started to do so with his treble against Plzen, but will he be able to make an impact again when he faces his former club, or will Bayern be able to prove they have started to move on without him?

Julian Nagelsmann expressed his desire to see Robert Lewandowski receive a warm welcome on his Bayern Munich return, as he backed the striker to continue his fine start to life at Barcelona.

Lewandowski, who scored 238 Bundesliga goals during an eight-year spell with the Bavarian giants before heading to Camp Nou in July, has made a scintillating start to his Barcelona career. 

The Poland international has scored six goals in his first five outings in LaLiga, and turned on the style with a hat-trick in Barca's 5-1 Champions League thrashing of Viktoria Plzen last week.

Lewandowski will make a swift return to Munich with his new club for Tuesday's huge Champions League fixture, and despite the less-than-amicable nature of his departure, Nagelsmann believes he should be received warmly.

"If I see him before [the game] then I'm certainly going to give him my hand. I'm not sure if I'll see him beforehand, usually I don't," Nagelsmann said.

"I'm looking forward to our fans welcoming him back. When a player has been so strong for the team over the years, I think it's important. 

"He was an important part of the Bayern family. We had a personal exchange a couple of weeks back, not regarding football. I am looking forward to seeing him again."

Asked about Lewandowski's start to life in Spain, Nagelsmann added: "I think he can still continue to play at that level for a couple of years, I'm not sure how many goals he can score this season, I'm no genie. 

"I think it will be plenty. He has scored 40 plus usually, so I think he can do that in the Spanish league as well.

"I'm not sure if he's the most dangerous, but he's certainly one of their most dangerous players, the one that can score the most goals. They have great solutions there.

"Lewandowski always has great runs and positions inside the box. He's the most dangerous in front of goal, but if he doesn't get a lot of balls, it's difficult [for him]."

Having coached Lewandowski when he brought up a half-century of goals in all competitions last term, Nagelsmann is acutely aware of his talents, and believes Dayot Upamecano's past experiences of facing him could aid Bayern. 

"I have plenty of positions that I'm already pretty clear on," Nagelsmann added. "Upamecano has memories of playing against Lewandowski, back when he was at RB Leipzig. He knows him from our practice as well."

While Upamecano is set to start at the Allianz Arena, Leon Goretzka will not, as Nagelsmann looks to ease the midfielder in following his injury lay-off.

"The position next to Joshua [Kimmich] is going to be [Marcel] Sabitzer," Nagelsmann said. 

"I've had a chat with Leon, it was my decision to keep him on [against Stuttgart on Saturday]. We decided to keep him on for 94 minutes, that was a long time for him after the injury. He reacted well to it and is feeling good. 

"Him having to play from the start is not going to happen, we need him for the whole season and don't want to give him too many minutes at the start."

Meanwhile, Barcelona have suffered eight Champions League defeats to Bayern – twice as many as they have lost against any other opponent (4 vs Milan, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain).

Bayern also boast a 100 per cent record against the Blaugrana in the group stages and beat them twice in the competition last term, but Nagelsmann is keen to draw a line under those past meetings.

"We know Barcelona. They have a completely new mindset. You can delete the last few games against Barca from your memory, it's a whole different team, very aggressive," he said. "It reminds us of when Xavi still used to play himself. 

"In Gavi and Pedri they have great number eights that have great pressing actions as well. There's a great development there for the team, Xavi did a few things really well in the last weeks and months.

"They want to attack in a new way, and they're going to be very difficult opponents tomorrow."

Bayern Munich must "take a good look at ourselves" if they are to get their Bundesliga season back on track after being held to a third straight draw, so says Thomas Muller.

Julian Nagelsmann's side followed up 1-1 draws against Borussia Monchengladbach and Union Berlin with a 2-2 draw against Stuttgart at Allianz Arena on Saturday.

Mathys Tel struck in the first half to put Bayern ahead on home soil, the 17-year-old becoming the club's youngest league goalscorer in the process.

Chris Fuhrich equalised in the second half for Stuttgart, who are winless in six games this season, but Jamal Musiala's strike had Bayern on course for all three points.

However, having had two goals ruled out and hit the crossbar, Serhou Guirassy was fouled by Matthijs de Ligt in the box and stepped up to convert the 92nd-minute penalty.

And Muller believes the latest of the stalemates has left him the most disappointed he has felt after a game this season.

"Today I'm angry for the first time," he told Sky Sport. "I'm mad at ourselves. If we want to win every game, and that's our aim, then you have to play until the very last minute.

"If we are going to stay top of the table, we have to take a look at ourselves."

 

Nagelsmann made six changes on the back of the midweek win over Inter in the Champions League, with another tough European test against Barcelona to come on Tuesday.

The 35-year-old guided Bayern to a 10th successive Bundesliga title last season, but his side have won only three of their past nine league matches stretching into last season.

Asked if he is feeling under additional pressure, Nagelsmann told reporters: "I don't know if the pressure got higher. Pressure is always subjective and comes from the outside. 

"We'll continue to work, train tomorrow and Monday, analyse the opponent and try to come up with good ideas for the Barcelona game.

"We didn't play well in the first 30 minutes today, which is a bit normal after a Champions League game. Then we had a good 15 minutes and deservedly took the lead. 

"In the second half, we had chances to score the third and kill off the game, but we didn't. So in the end we only got a point."

Bayern had won 67 of their previous 106 Bundesliga encounters with Stuttgart – no Bundesliga side has beaten another as many times.

Stuttgart were good value for their equaliser when it arrived, though, having put Bayern under intense pressure.

De Ligt was penalised for catching Guirassy in the box, with referee Christian Dingert awarding the spot-kick after being instructed by VAR to check the pitchside monitor.

"That was the correct decision," Nagelsmann said. "Matthijs played a good game. It's a pity he conceded the penalty, but it happens. We move on."

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann confirmed Kingsley Coman has sustained a muscle injury, and he is unsure how long the France international will spend on the sidelines.

Bayern host Stuttgart on Saturday in the Bundesliga after a 2-0 win at Inter in their opening Champions League group stage game.

Nagelsmann stated his intention to rotate some players, including starting Leon Goretzka for the first time this season, though he did suggest Joshua Kimmich will play despite sustaining an eye injury in the win at San Siro on Wednesday.

However, Coman will not feature after the winger suffered a muscle tear in training, with the Bayern boss waiting to learn how long he faces out of action.

"King suffered an injury during training and is getting an MRI right now," Nagelsmann said at a press conference on Friday. "It's a muscle injury. We hope it's nothing serious.

"We will rotate and there will be several changes. Everyone is feeling good. Josh is also able to play. His eye was pretty swollen and colourful yesterday, but it's already looking better today and he can play."

Bayern have drawn their last two Bundesliga games 1-1 against Borussia Monchengladbach and Union Berlin, finding themselves in the unfamiliar position of third in the table after five outings.

Their next Champions League clash on Tuesday sees them host Barcelona, who have former Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski in their ranks, but Nagelsmann is certain his team are solely focused on Stuttgart.

"It would be silly to take it out of my head completey," he said. "We are concentrating on the Stuttgart game... I don't understand this kind of question [about looking ahead to the next game] because if you don't play well, you don't play well.

"Everyone here wants to be German champions again, and right now we're not in first place. Yes we do have the game against Barcelona, but we want to win this home game as well, and it makes no sense to give less tomorrow against Stuttgart."

Nagelsmann, like many other sporting figures, also expressed empathy after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Tributes from across the world arrived shortly after the UK's Royal Family announced the long-serving monarch died on Thursday at the age of 96.

All football fixtures in England scheduled for the weekend have been postponed as a mark of respect.

"The first thing that goes through your head when someone has passed away is empathy for those affected by the news, friends, family," Nagelsmann said.

"The Queen was someone we saw regularly on the television and has a big meaning for the country."

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann believed his side "absolutely deserved the win" as they beat Inter 2-0 at the San Siro to kick off their Champions League campaign.

A brilliant first-half goal from Leroy Sane set the German champions on their way to victory, before a Danilo D'Ambrosio own goal as he clumsily tried to block a Sane shot killed the game off.

The Bundesliga side saw out the remaining minutes to earn a clean sheet and all three points to make it 11 games unbeaten against Italian teams in the Champions League, as they look for their first European title since the 2019-20 season.

And Nagelsmann was delighted with his team's performance, telling reporters: "I'm happy with the performance today. We had a good intensity throughout the 90 minutes.

"In both halves, we had a spell of 10 minutes where we gave the opponent space and our opponents can obviously play.

"But overall we absolutely deserved the win. It was important to start with three points.

While Nagelsmann was pleased with his players, he believes there is much work to be done as they hunt for trophies.

"I enjoy it when we win. But there are many areas of improvement, we want to exploit them and we will try to do it on a daily basis."

Elsewhere in Europe, former Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski scored a hat-trick as his new side Barcelona opened up their Champions League group stage with a 5-1 thrashing of Viktoria Plzen.

Lewandowski returns to the Allianz Arena next week as his old and new teams face off, and Nagelsmann says he hopes the fans give him a good reception despite his somewhat acrimonious departure.

When asked about facing him, Nagelsmann added: "I am looking forward to it, yes. Not so much to facing him, because he is very dangerous in front of goal.

"But as a person I will be pleased to see him. I hope the fans will honour that too, regardless of how things were with his departure."

Bayern Munich defeated Inter 2-0 at San Siro in their Champions League opener thanks to a first-half strike from Leroy Sane and Danilo D'Ambrosio's own goal.

The visitors dominated the opening stages and deservedly went ahead through Sane when he brilliantly brought down a Joshua Kimmich long ball, before rounding Andre Onana and drilling home.

Julian Nagelsmann's side came under increasing Inter pressure in the second half, but D'Ambrosio's awkward attempt at a block from a Sane shot killed the game off and earned Bayern all three points.

Bayern have now won their last 19 Champions League openers, as the Bundesliga titans paved the way for what they hope will be qualification from a tough Group C.

Sadio Mane will provide vital Champions League experience with his "special gift for leading the team" despite his quiet demeanour, according to Julian Nagelsmann.

Mane will play his first game in UEFA's flagship club competition for the Bundesliga champions on Wednesday at Inter, where Bayern have a perfect record in Europe (three wins in three games).

The Senegal international will attempt to fill the void left by Robert Lewandowski, who left for Barcelona, and brings crucial experience, having lifted the Champions League with Liverpool in 2019.

Mane has started life in Germany in fine form, scoring three times in five games, and needs one more goal to become just the fourth African player to score 25 or more goals in the Champions League.

While Bayern have shared the goalscoring burden after the forward's arrival from Liverpool, Nagelsmann says Mane will bring more to his side than just goals.

"I expect that he will pass on his experience to other players and live up to his claim to leadership," Nagelsmann told reporters. 

"He has a special gift for leading a team – not even as a loud speaker."

Bayern are among the pre-tournament favourites despite crashing out at the quarter-final stage last term, losing 2-1 on aggregate to Villarreal after Samuel Chukwueze's late goal at the Allianz Arena.

While the Bundesliga side have not lifted European football's main prize since 2013, Nagelsmann welcomes the favourites tag as he looks to atone for last season's disappointment.

"Bayern Munich should always be one of the favourites, given their history," he added. "The Champions League is always special, even hearing the anthem. I've never been to the San Siro as a coach.

"There have been many historic games here. I don't know yet whether it will be the same tomorrow. The opening game isn't decisive but we're trying to get off to a good start."

Inter have been somewhat off the pace in Serie A, winning three games and losing twice to sit eighth in the embryonic table following a 3-2 derby disappointment against fierce rivals Milan last time out.

Bayern are also unbeaten in 10 games against Italian opposition in the Champions League and have won all 18 of their group-stage openers since the 2003-04 term.

But Manuel Neuer warned Bayern cannot afford to be complacent, nor underestimate Simone Inzaghi's side amid an underwhelming start to the 2022-23 season.

"It's the start of the Champions league, you can't say that," Neuer responded when asked if Inter were a weakened side from last campaign. 

"It's a completely different atmosphere and a chance for Inter to restart. We won't underestimate the opponent.

"We're among the favourites. In the past few years we haven't managed to make it to the end. Bitter defeats like the last one against Villarreal hurt. We have the ambition and the incentive to get very far."

Bayern Munich failed to bounce back to winning ways in the Bundesliga as Union Berlin doggedly held them to a 1-1 draw at Alte Forsterei on Saturday.

The champions slipped up for the first time this top-flight season previously against Borussia Monchengladbach, and were looking to get back on track away from home.

But Julian Nagelsmann's side were forced to settle for a point that means both they and Urs Fischer's opponents stay locked behind Borussia Dortmund at the summit, in a match that struggled to live up to its explosive start.

Any idea of a quiet afternoon in the capital looked to have been swiftly dashed in a blockbuster opening quarter of an hour, which saw the hosts fire home first before the visitors hit back barely three minutes later.

Sheraldo Becker chopped a fine volley across the face of goal off a looping free kick for Union, before Bayern promptly responded through Joshua Kimmich's rifled finish.

Leroy Sane subsequently went close twice over the final stages of the first half, forcing a save and steering another effort wide.

That looked to set the table for a dramatic encounter after the break, only for the home side to double down on a defensive approach that saw them hold just over a fifth of the possession throughout, lying deep to frustrate their rivals.

Bayern continued to launch wave after wave of offensive action to no avail, with both Sane and Sadio Mane coming close to finding a winner – but ultimately, they were held stubbornly at bay for a cagey share of the points.

Julian Nagelsmann insisted Bayern Munich sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic did not mean to offend when he said the club's training matches could be better spectacles than Bundesliga games.

The comments from Salihamidzic came in a wide-ranging interview with German broadcaster Sky Sport, as he answered a question about Tottenham's Harry Kane by pointing out the wealth of attacking talent already in Bayern's ranks.

Salihamidzic said in the interview, released on Thursday: "If you look at the training sessions, it's great fun to watch. Some training games are better than Bundesliga games."

It was the sort of throwaway comment that could be interpreted as a provocative remark towards Bayern's Bundesliga rivals.

Bayern have won 10 consecutive German league titles, an unprecedented run of success, sweeping all before them over the last decade and looking strong again this season.

They have 10 points from four games so far, and only Saturday's opponents Union Berlin have matched that haul.

Asked about Salihamidzic's comments, Nagelsmann said on Friday: "We don't want to offend any Bundesliga club. I think 'Brazzo' [Salihamidzic] didn't want to talk about the quality of the Bundesliga as much as he wanted to emphasise that we have a good team spirit on the pitch.

"They cheer each other on during training and it's always a good vibe. But in training you can play from the soul because there is a different pressure. Only the results count in the Bundesliga. Brazzo just said that we train well."

Bayern dropped points for the first time this season in their 1-1 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach last weekend. They had 20 shots on target against the Foals, though, setting a new record for a single Bundesliga game since detailed data collection began in 2004-05.

Bayern begin their Champions League campaign next week, facing Serie A giants Inter on Wednesday at San Siro.

Nagelsmann suspects Saturday's domestic assignment will be an ideal test ahead of that game. Ominously for Union, Bayern have scored 13 goals in their first two Bundesliga away games this term – a new league record.

"Inter and Union are similar in some respects, especially with their two strikers," said Nagelsmann. "It won't be a bad scouting game for Inter."

Bayern will be without the injured Mathys Tel and Bouna Sarr, but Leon Goretzka came through his first-team return when he came off the bench and scored in the 5-0 DFB-Pokal win over Viktoria Koln on Wednesday.

After a knee injury lay-off, Nagelsmann will hope to have Goretzka fit enough for regular starts before long.

"I hope that he stays healthy and that we manage his stress in a healthy way," Nagelsmann said.

Bayern are unbeaten in their six Bundesliga games against Union Berlin (W4 D2).

They have only faced Rot-Weiss Oberhausen and SV Darmstadt more often in the top flight without ever losing (both eight times).

Indeed, Bayern are the only current Bundesliga side Union have never managed to beat.

Julian Nagelsmann is glad Hasan Salihamidzic has extended his stay as Bayern Munich sporting director – as long as the man who helped bring him to the club does not sack him.

Bayern announced on Monday that Salihamidzic, who has worked in a boardroom position at the Allianz Arena since August 2017, will remain part of the executive member board for at least three more years.

During Salihamidzic's time in charge of the sporting department, Bayern have won five Bundesliga titles, the Champions League, Club World Cup, European Super Cup and the DFB-Pokal twice.

Nagelsmann was at the helm for the most recent of Bayern's league title triumphs and has welcomed the continuity behind the scenes.

"I am very happy about it," Nagelsmann said at a pre-match news conference on Tuesday. "I like working with him but also from the club's perspective, he did great work in difficult transfer periods. 

"It's not always been easy. I've tried to explain many times that as a sporting director, you can't decide things by yourself. The supervisory board has to agree with things like they did with his renewal and transfers. 

"You can't walk through the market and collect all the players that you want. There is a supervisory board that needs to decide how and whether things are done. So your hands are kind of tied. 

"Hasan has a good connection to everyone in the club and also to everyone in the supervisory board. That helps in many situations. It's never him by himself or the manager alone but a cooperation of many people from the club. 

"Privately, I also have a good connection to him. We have moments where things aren't all about football but where we talk about other things – that is also good for the working climate.

"So I'm happy I don't have to adjust to anyone new. He was one of the motors behind me joining the club. I am very happy that the supervisory board made that decision, as long as he doesn't kick me out!"

Bayern started their latest Bundesliga title defence strongly with three successive victories, scoring 15 goals in the process, prior to being held 1-1 at home to Borussia Monchengladbach at the weekend.

Nagelsmann's side now turn their focus to the DFB-Pokal, where a trip to third-tier side Viktoria Koln awaits on Wednesday.

Bayern have failed to get beyond round two of the competition in the past two seasons and Nagelsmann does not intend to take the hosts lightly, even if changes to the side are planned.

"We have everyone fit," Nagelsmann told reporters. "Jamal [Musiala] is not quite 100 per cent yet and probably won't start, but he'll be in the squad. We're going to take everyone with us and make a decision on the day.

"We'll have to see on Leon Goretzka and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting. I'd like to give them a bit of rhythm but they certainly won't be starting. In all it could be five changes to the side to help give others a chance.

"It is an important game for us, a knockout game. The opposition have an experienced coach and experienced players. It will not be an easy game at what is a great setting, in a stadium with lots of spectators."

Nagelsmann suggested Thomas Muller and Joshua Kimmich are among the experienced players likely to start against Viktoria, who are eighth in the 3.Liga after winning three, drawing one and losing two of their first six matches.

One player who definitely will not be involved at RheinEnergieStadion is Joshua Zirkzee, whose move to Serie A side Bologna was confirmed on Tuesday.

Bayern have a buy-back clause for Netherlands Under-21 international Zirkzee, who made 17 appearances for their first team.

Robert Lewandowski deserves to receive a positive reception when he returns to Bayern Munich as a Barcelona player, according to Julian Nagelsmann.

Lewandowski is set for a swift visit to his former club after Barca were drawn to face the Bundesliga champions in Group C of the Champions League, alongside Inter and Viktoria Plzen.

The Poland international, who scored his first competitive goals for Barca in a 4-1 thrashing of Real Sociedad last week, left Bayern in somewhat acrimonious fashion after declaring that something had "died" within him in Germany.

But Nagelsmann believes Bayern's fans will give Lewandowski a warm welcome on his Allianz Arena return, declaring: "I think there will be applause.

"I never like it when someone gets whistled. I don't know all of the processes [leading to his exit], the fan in the stadium are even further away.

"There is always a second truth, that things are exaggerated, mistranslated."

On Bayern's tough-looking European draw, Nagelsmann added: "It's a challenging group, but we can and want to come through it."

 

Before Bayern turn their attentions to the Champions League, they will look to maintain a scintillating start to the Bundesliga campaign when they host Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday.

With nine points and a goal difference of +14 (15 goals scored, one conceded) after three games of the new season, Bayern have made the best start in the competition's history at this stage.

And they have been handed a further boost after midfielder Leon Goretzka returned to full training for the first time since undergoing knee surgery in July, although he will not play any part in Bayern's next outing.

"[Eric Maxim] Choupo-Moting was training again but had a few problems today," the Bayern boss added at a pre-match press conference on Friday. 

"Leon was also back today and completed parts of team training. Neither of them are options to play tomorrow."

Bayern's tally of 15 goals in their first three games of the Bundesliga season is also unmatched in the competition's history, and Jamal Musiala has played a key role, matching new arrival Sadio Mane with three league goals this campaign.

Bayern and Germany great Lothar Matthaus recently declared the 19-year-old could become the best player in the world within the next few years, but Nagelsmann is keen to keep the youngster grounded.

"He doesn't have a starting eleven guarantee," Nagelsmann said of Musiala. 

"Lothar's comparison is an honour. Lionel [Messi] has played at a high level for many years and he has yet to prove that. I trust him. But he's not quite at 100 per cent yet. 

"I'll be spoiled for choice tomorrow. He has no guarantee that he will play, like everybody else."

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