Once again, Bayern Munich are set to face FC Barcelona in the Champions League, and once again a Barca coach is faced with a serious conundrum. How do you stop a man like Thomas Muller? In games gone by, he has been a relentless thorn in the side of the Spanish FCB, scoring 8 goals and assisting 2 more in seven games versus the Catalans. He was the architect of the famous 7-0 and 8-2 scorelines, and scored in both games during last year’s group stage.
Xavi Hernandez, however, has a plan. Speaking to the press before the game, he highlighted the use of zonal marking to neutralize the threat of Thomas Muller in the Bayern offense:
Xavi on Thomas Müller: "He's a fantastic player, he's been making a difference for years. He has a great understanding of the game. He's a leader. It's difficult to mark him, but we don't do man marking but zonal marking. We'll be attentive to everyone" pic.twitter.com/2TaIhBsI9a— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) September 12, 2022
Of course, zonal marking won’t be anything new for Muller — he’s been playing against all types of defenses throughout his career. However, with Bayern suffering a bit of an offensive downturn this campaign, this could be Barca’s chance to vex the Raumdeuter once and for all.
Xavi, however, knows what he’s up against. “They have great young players with big potential that can make the difference. I would highlight their high pressure and how they can break the defensive line. They have been doing well for years.”
However, the Barca coach also chose to highlight the large strides his team have made in recent months. “Many things have changed, especially the mentality. We go out there without complexes and try to have the ball. We have won in personality and mentality.”
“But,” he added, “we have to stay humble and remember that we had a bad time.”
Let’s see what Bayern have in store for them this time round.
Interested in a more detailed preview of the game? Then why not check out the latest episode of our podcast? We did a breakdown of Bayern’s struggles in recent week, plus a look at Xavi’s setup and Nagelsmann’s options to counter. Listen to it below or at this link.
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