Despite the rough patch Real Madrid are currently experiencing, Bayern Munich manager Jupp Heynckes believes that the Spanish giants still have what it takes to beat Paris Saint-Germain in their upcoming contest in the Champions League knockout stage.
Real and PSG are in completely opposite form leading up to the encounter: PSG are 11 points clear at the top of the Ligue 1 table, having lost only two games. Madrid meanwhile find themselves in fourth place in La Liga, 19 points adrift of leaders Barcelona. In their last 12 matches across competitions, Madrid have only won four times and were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Leganes in the round of 16.
Still, even with Madrid’s slump, Heynckes believes their Champions League experience will work in their favor. Speaking in an exclusive interview with Goal, Heynckes explained why he believes Madrid is merely passing through a difficult phase:
That Madrid is going through a low in the league at the moment is, in my opinion, quite normal, especially if you have won the Champions League twice and been Spanish champions too. In addition, Real have given away three very good players in the summer with Alvaro Morata, Pepe and James Rodriguez, perhaps to save salaries. They have not bought big and thought that with the young players they can compensate for that. You need a really good mix between young and old, between experienced and hungry players.
For PSG, the attacking trio of Neymar, Edinson Cavani, and Kylian Mbappe accounted for 12 of their 25 goals in the group stages, more goals than any other team scored during that stage. The three have proven to be one of the most lethal attacking lines in Europe. Still, though, Heynckes feels that Madrid have the necessary experience to keep them at bay and get through to the next round:
Nevertheless, you must not write off Real in the Champions League. They have much more experience than Paris Saint-Germain. Much more! I believe they will win the tie. They have a good team for playing in European competition. When we first won the Champions League again in 1998, we finished fourth in the league. I know from personal experience Madrid should never be underestimated.
Additionally, Heynckes explained that he feels dominance in European competition is cyclical; this it makes it more difficult for Bayern Munich to stay near the top as other European leagues are progressing at a rapid rate, both financially and skill-wise:
There are always cycles in football. Recently, Real Madrid have been incredibly successful, before that it was Barcelona in a certain period of time. Bayern Munich were in 2013 and also in previous years. So there are always snapshots. It will be increasingly difficult for the Bundesliga and also for Bayern Munich to be as successful internationally as Bayern have been before in their history. Right now it is said that the English Premier League is the best and at the moment it might be like that. But the English teams have to prove that now in the knockout phase of the Champions League.
The first of the two-legged tie between PSG and Madrid is set to take place on Wednesday the 14th at the Santiago Bernabeu, while Bayern will host Besiktas at the Allianz arena the week after on Tuesday the 20th.