In an interview with Abendzeitung this week, Bayern Munich right-back Noussair Mazraoui was asked about the club’s main competition in the Champions League for this season. Instead of coming up with common answers like Real Madrid or Manchester City, the Moroccan international instead made an unconventional choice — Bayern themselves!
(And no, Liverpool fans, you’re not included in this conversation.)
Who is Bayern's toughest competition in the Champions League this season?— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) October 30, 2022
Mazraoui: "It's ourselves! If we play to the level we can, if we defend as well as we are now, if we keep improving as we have been, then our only biggest opponent is ourselves." pic.twitter.com/kzYi7vyXqh
This shows that Mazraoui has been paying attention to Bayern’s recent Champions League campaigns. In 2021, the injury to Robert Lewandowski was a crucial factor in the defeat to PSG, but Bayern still could’ve gone through if the home leg in Munich had been handled better. 2022’s elimination at the hands of Villarreal CF was a total disaster. In both seasons, Bayern was its own worst opponent.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that the 24-year-old doesn’t rate the rest of the competition. He admits that “there are teams against which it would certainly be difficult — Real Madrid or Manchester City, for example.”
This season, Bayern look strong, but so do plenty of other teams. Given that the CL knockouts take place after the World Cup, you can’t take anything for granted at the moment. All Julian Nagelsmann can do is keep working with his team on a day-to-day basis, and tackling games as they come. When February rolls around with the first set of Champions League knockouts, that’s when Bayern need to be ready.