Thomas Tuchel is determined to set the tone for his reign at Bayern Munich by knocking his old side Borussia Dortmund off the top of the Bundesliga.
Bayern’s new head coach is gearing up for a “different dynamic” at the Klassiker next Saturday in what could be the defining match of the German league season.
Dortmund hold on to a one-point lead after Bayern were beaten by Bayer Leverkusen last weekend with just nine rounds left, adding to the significance of this match.
Tuchel, whose appointment as successor to the sacked Julian Nagelsmann was officially announced on Friday, has already begun to receive messages from the Dortmund camp.
He was boss at Dortmund from 2015 to 2017 and solidified his reputation before being sacked over backroom disagreements.
A year later, Tuchel was bought by Paris Saint-Germain and he won the Champions League with Chelsea before being sacked last September.
On Tuesday, Tuchel received a call from Bayern asking him to save their season, with CEO Oliver Kahn and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic fearing the campaign would derail.
Tuchel said at his opening press conference on Saturday: “I was a little naive in the first discussion. The ball dropped that it will start with a game against Borussia Dortmund. The level of expectations cannot be higher.”
He said the game was “not about me” but his presence inevitably added spice to the Allianz Arena event.
“I have received a lot of messages and calls from Borussia Dortmund staff saying they are looking forward to meeting me,” Tuchel added. “There will be a different dynamic because of the way things are now.
“I’m proud to have a BVB on my resume, but that won’t stop me from handling the situation.”
Dortmund have been chasing Bayern for a long time, so getting ahead of them at this stage of the season is unusual.
Bayern have won the last 10 Bundesliga titles and fear the streak is coming to an end. They could still finish with a treble given they made it to the DFB-Pokal and Champions League quarter-finals, so if all goes well, Tuchel will have a lot to celebrate in May and June.
The 49-year-old promised to “keep my eyes open and try to do my best to win all three titles.”
He believes Bayern have what it takes to claim that kind of silver.
“It wasn’t until Tuesday that I started to really think about the squad,” he said. “No one wants to play against a club like Bayern. It really inspired me to work right away.”
Welcome to Bayern, Thomas Tuchel! pic.twitter.com/3hfUaP6RuK
— FC Bayern Munich (@FCBayernEN) March 25, 2023
Due to the international hiatus, Tuchel won’t see part of his team until Friday, the day before Bayern take on Borussia Dortmund in the best of the Klassiker tournament.
He felt it was an “unexpected time” for Bayern to change coaches and said he would not make drastic changes in the coming weeks, promising a “deeper analysis” would come at the right time.
He expects some players to see his arrival as a “new chance” and said he would prioritize “building some faith on the pitch”.
“The thing is, I’m going to get feedback from the players, but I don’t want to overwhelm anyone,” Tuchel said. “The upcoming game is a very exciting proposition, just like everyone wanted. My job is also to create some anticipation.”
He is determined not to look back and instead focus only on what Bayern have ahead of him, calling the game against Dortmund “a chance to put the first exclamation mark there”.
Asked about Nagelsmann, Tuchel spoke of his experience when he said the sacking was “unpleasant” as he lost his job at Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea under disappointing circumstances.
“I think everyone knows that when you take a job at a club like Bayern, things like that can happen,” Tuchel said. “I know Julian Nagelsmann might be having a hard time right now.”
However, he emphasized that the dismissal “is not my responsibility” and hopes that sometime in the future we will have a friendly conversation with Nagelsmann.
Tuchel has not yet picked up the phone to ask Nagelsmann about the players he has inherited.
“I don’t want to be disrespectful,” he said. “I start everything on Monday and I’m sure at some point we will cross paths and talk about things. My relationship with Julian, from my point of view, has not suffered one percent.”