One of the biggest matches of the year, in terms of the teams and the competition, is ahead for Bayern Munich. When the Bavarians take the field against FC Barcelona, it will be the first time the two sides met competitively since the 2014-15 season when Bayern was knocked out in the semifinals to a Barça team who won the final in Berlin.
Since that competition, Bayern have brought in many players. One of those is the Canadian Wunderkind Alphonso Davies. The winger/left back has been outstanding for Die Roten this season and has proven himself against some of the best competition in Germany and the world.
But he’s never faced a man as big, in reputation if not in stature, as Lionel Messi, his childhood hero.
Davies opened up about the meeting in an interview with UEFA.com:
It was amazing, and now being able to play in the Champions League, against one of my favourite players in the world [Lionel Messi], it’s incredible. Honestly, I’m lost for words — a dream come true.
My mum called me yesterday and then my dad hopped on the phone, and he was like: “So you’re playing against your favourite player, I see.” And I went: “Yeah.” And then we both started laughing on the phone. And honestly we couldn’t even believe it, because he knows that I looked up to Messi when I was younger, and now playing against him, it’s really nice.
When asked about whether he’s ready to take on La Pulguita, Phonzie remained confident in his abilities:
Growing up, I used to watch him all the time and now I’m defending against him; it’s going to be a whole different ball game. But for me, it’s just playing my game, changing nothing on my side and just hopefully doing my best against him. We know that he’s a great player — we’re not going to take that away from him — so the best you can do is try, I guess.
It’s going to be an incredible game. All I can say is that I am excited to play the game and I’m sure everyone’s excited to watch as well.
While Alphonso Davies was understandably humble about his match-up against arguably the greatest player to ever grace a football pitch, the same could not be said for Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. The Bayern chairman played the part of hype man ahead of the match tomorrow and had nothing but praise for Phonzie’s performances in an interview with Sky Sports. But his words may come back to haunt Bayern if the result goes sideways:
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge: "Alphonso played a great season and was deservedly voted young player of the year. If Messi plays on his side, Alphonso will take care of him. It's a difficult but interesting task. Alphonso hasn't been outpaced or dribbled past often this season" [Sky] pic.twitter.com/Q4ojpDzxRK— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) August 13, 2020
“Alphonso played a great season and was deservedly voted young player of the year. If Messi plays on his side, Alphonso will take care of him. It’s a difficult but interesting task. Alphonso hasn’t been outpaced or dribbled past often this season”
As I asked on twitter:
What the hell are you doing KHR https://t.co/WOS0V0dAtE— Jefferson "Jake" Fenner (@jeffersonfenner) August 13, 2020
It’s not just that he called out a player. It’s not even that he called out Lionel Messi. Somehow, KHR must not remember the last time someone from Bayern challenged the Argentinian magician.
Let’s recall what Manuel Neuer told L’Equipe before the 2014/15 UCL semifinals:
I have a lot of respect for Messi and for everything that he has achieved. He is very humble, but it’s crucial to show authority when we meet on the pitch and show him who’s boss. I did the same in the World Cup final and this worked out pretty well. We will be looking to do the same on Wednesday night. It is vital to obtain a position of dominance and instil respect.
Remember how that played out?
So let’s just hope that KHR didn’t just jinx this team, or Davies, ahead of one of the most important games of the season.