If Bayern Munich fans thought their team had it rough, coming into the first Champions League midweek fixture on the heels of two straight 1-1 Bundesliga draws that sent the club tumbling into third place in the standings, their upcoming opponents Inter Milan have done them one better. Simone Inzaghi’s men will have to pick up the pieces after an emotional 3-2 derby defeat to AC Milan — and it’s not going to get any easier for them when they welcome the Bavarians to San Siro.
“The support of our fans will be very important tomorrow,” Inzaghi said in the pre-game press conference Tuesday, as captured by @iMiaSanMia. “We know what kind of opponent we’re facing and how strong they are...Bayern are candidates to win the Champions League. Facing them must be an opportunity.”
If Inzaghi is concerned about the defensive frailties that saw Inter concede twenty-one shots to AC Milan at the weekend, he didn’t show it — projecting only confidence instead.
“We have analyzed the derby and we know what we did wrong,” Inzaghi said, though shoring up a defense in short order is easier said than done.
Key for the Bavarians will be the exciting, speedy, and dynamic Sadio Mané, who has arrived in this summer’s transfer window to replace Robert Lewandowski — also in the same group after the Champions League draw saw FC Barcelona land here from Pot 2 — and shake up Bayern’s attacking patterns.
If Mané hasn’t integrated entirely perfectly to the side, he’s come pretty close in a remarkably short amount of time, and has at least hit the ground running with five goals in seven games. He’s picking up just where he left off last year, when a switch from the wings to the center of attack rejuvenated Jürgen Klopp’s side and helped them mount a fierce title challenge to Manchester City.
“We faced [Mané] last year with Liverpool,” Inzaghi noted, signaling that the Senegalese forward’s position switch will at least not be a new development for his team. “He’s a great player with insane intensity, both offensively and defensively. He has an intensity that hurts you.”
Perhaps it’s that energy and relentlessness, which so characterize Bayern Munich also, that has made the Mané transfer seem a match made in heaven. And Inzaghi is looking past Bayern’s last two results in the league to the character of the games underneath the scorelines.
“I watched Bayern’s last two games,” he said of the 1-1 league draws to Borussia Mönchengladbach and Union Berlin. “In terms of stats, there was no contest — but the opponents were so aggressive and couldn’t be beaten. Bayern play with an intensity that makes them one of the best teams in Europe, so you have to match them.”
Wednesday, at the San Siro, he’ll find out if his Inter squad are ready to do just that.
Bursting at the seams with anticipation for UCL season? Check out our Inter preview pod!
Be sure to stay tuned to Bavarian Podcast Works for all of your up to date coverage on Bayern Munich and Germany. Follow us on Twitter @BavarianFBWorks, @TheBarrelBlog, @tommyadams71, @bfwinnn, and more.