As the men of Bayern Munich are on break for the World Cup, the FC Bayern Frauen are still playing important games before they go on a winter break — both in the Bundesliga and in the Champions League. Alexander Straus — FC Bayern’s manager who arrived this summer — was interviewed by Mia San Rot before the big clash this week with FC Barcelona. He discussed the importance of these home and home fixtures, what he expects from Barca, and his tactics to get the most out of his team.
When asked about the importance of the Champions League match against FC Barcelona, Straus played it off a little bit, saying, “We have to focus on the game and not on the occasion, the atmosphere around it or the place. We play a game on a football pitch that is about the same size as the other pitches we play on. We will play 90 minutes each, everything as usual. Accordingly, we have to focus on the technical and tactical aspects of the game. The atmosphere is something for everyone else to concentrate on. Of course, we are not machines and emotions always play a role, it will be a great experience. We have a lot of experienced players who have played big games like this before. This season we’ve already had very important games against Eintracht Frankfurt and Wolfsburg.”
Straus was then asked about playing at Camp Nou. The Norwegian coach doubled down on his response, reiterating that they need to prepare for not only Camp Nou, but also to play in the Allianz Arena. “Of course it’s an iconic stadium. It’s a highlight in the career of anyone who plays or coaches there. Afterwards, we play in the Allianz Arena, which is something you will always keep with you for the rest of your life. And then we should also not forget that these will be very tough games for which we have to prepare very intensively.”
Moving on from the atmosphere of the fixtures, Straus spoke on what he expects to see from Barcelona. He says, “To be honest, I think Barcelona are in a transitional phase right now in terms of their style. They play a bit more direct than before, they are an incredibly good team, they won 4-0 against Real Madrid before the international break and could have scored eight goals. The game against Benfica was also very interesting because Benfica were quite good between the penalty areas, but Barcelona still scored nine goals. They are so efficient. If you give them just a half-chance, they will finish you off.”
The interviewer from Mia San Rot then went on to ask about Straus’ strategy for the match, and if they were going to continue to try to control the possession in the game, as they do in the Bundesliga, to keep Barca out of their comfort zone. Straus responded with, “That’s a big question we’re working on and I’ve already got my ideas on how we can do that. I don’t think this is going to be a game where, based on our current level of development, we should expect to control the game for 90 minutes like we often do in the league, for example. In this game, we also have to feel comfortable with the idea at times that they will have the ball. If we don’t do that, we would be naive and we don’t want to be that. We want to be able to defend them even without the ball.”
Lastly, they mentioned the friendly played this summer against Barcelona in France. Bayern won 2-1. On whether or not Straus could take anything from this friendly for the upcoming fixtures, he said, “We did well in France in the summer. So we know it’s possible to beat them. In Spain, they are not so used to defending a lot. They push a lot of players forward and try to win the balls back quickly. The gegen-pressing is really good, but when that doesn’t work, they are quite open. Then there are spaces that we have to conquer and where we have to take advantage of possible mistakes. The question will be whether we have the quality to do that on the day.”
The Bayern Frauen will take on FC Barcelona in Camp Nou on Thursday at 12:45 (Eastern). The match will stream for free on DAZN’s YouTube pages in multiple languages. Bayern will then host Barcelona on December 7th at the Allianz Arena. Bayern will then finish out Group Stage play with a trip to Sweden to take on Rosengard on December 15th and then host Benfica on December 21st. Bayern will also play three more league games before the end of the year!