Getting knocked out of the DFB-Pokal in the quarterfinals at the hands of SC Freiburg wasn’t exactly the boost of confidence Thomas Tuchel and Bayern Munich were looking for ahead of the Champions League quarter-finals against Manchester City. Still, though, the tie between the two sides remains to be the tie of the next round of Europe’s most prestigious competition and the winner between the two is one of the odds-on favorites to press on and make it to the final in Istanbul, Turkey.
Tuchel is no stranger to getting the better of Pep Guardiola in the Champions League, as he lead Chelsea to victory in 2021, beating Manchester City 1-0 in Porto, Portugal by virtue of a Kai Havertz goal. That title didn’t exactly foreshadow what was to come for Tuchel at Chelsea, though, as he was dismissed by the club a little over two years later after a group stage loss to Dinamo Zagreb in the fall.
Both City and Bayern breezed through the group stages with flying colors, and in the process, Bayern bested Barcelona twice, which is the club that Robert Lewandowski left for last summer in what was a transfer saga that seemed to be somewhat of a distraction towards the end of last season. Barcelona was also subsequently knocked out of the Europa League at the hands of Manchester United, as they could never really translate their La Liga form to Europe.
Looking ahead to the savory Bayern-City matchup, Lewandowski was asked who he is favoring to advance to the semifinals, and he answered rather diplomatically. “It’s going to be a very interesting game. It will completely depend on the form of the day. A 50-50 game,” he said, perhaps showing respect both to his former club and a team managed by a former manager of his (as per Sport Bild’s Tobi Altschaffl via @iMiaSanMia).
Ironically enough, at different points, Lewandowski was linked with a potential move to Chelsea in the Premier League when Tuchel was manager there, but it became evidently clear the closer it got to the end of last season that Barcelona was the desired destination. Any way you slice up the sub-plots, you’d have to guess Lewandowski is pulling for Bayern, but just responded diplomatically to save a bit of face.