Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann admits Tuesday’s Champions League opponents Barcelona will miss Lionel Messi’s “extravagance” but believes they are not much weaker without him.
Messi left Barcelona in the off-season to join Paris Saint-Germain after a brilliant career at Camp Nou.
The Catalans started their international life without Messi with seven points from three games in LaLiga, while starting their Champions League campaign on Tuesday against Nagelsmann’s Bayern in Barcelona.
“Barcelona certainly no longer have the extravagance of a Messi. But they also have other players who can play a very important role if you take Frenkie de Jong and Pedri for example, “Nagelsmann said at the pre-match press conference.
“We are ready for anything. I don’t think they are much weaker. The future will show if they are better. But we absolutely want to take the three points. “
Barcelona have a number of selection problems with injuries from Ousmane Dembele, Ansu Fati, Martin Braithwaite and Sergio Aguero, while Nagelsmann has been shy about Serge Gnabry’s availability.
Gnabry was replaced with a back problem in Saturday’s 4-1 Bundesliga win over RB Leipzig, alongside Robert Lewandowski for “precautionary” reasons with a groin problem.
“We will have to make a belated decision on this,” Nagelsmann said of Gnabry.
“Gnabry will travel. [Corentin] Tolisso will not. [Kingsley] Coman is in the squad but it’s not an option to start. However, things are looking good again for Lewandowski. “
Bayern beat Barcelona 8-2 in the 2020 Champions League quarter-finals played one-off in Lisbon, adding further spice to the first Group E match.
“Being the favorites or not the favorites is increasingly a topic for the media,” he said. “Two world-class clubs face off”.
@J__Nagelsmann : “The expectation a #FCBayern is going to be in the top 3 in Europe. Obviously this is the most coveted trophy in European football. I think all the players really want to win for the club again. The same goes for me, of course! ” #FCBFCB @Champions League pic.twitter.com/ndH68iTpDw
– FC Bayern Italiano (@FCBayernIT) September 13, 2021