It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why Bayern Munich will take out Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the 2022/23 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. From Bayern’s perfect start to Thomas Tuchel and Sadio Mane, bundesliga.com didn’t exactly have to dig deep to make the six-time European champions’ case…
1) Absolutely flawless
Make no bones about it, Bayern are the team everyone wanted to avoid in the quarter-final draw. Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Viktoria Plzen have all come a cropper against the record German champions in this season’s competition, losing by an aggregate score of 21-2. In case you missed it, Bayern have won all eight of their fixtures so far, keeping clean sheets in seven of them. Only Plzen managed to breach the Red Machine, but were still outscored 4-2 as Bayern wrapped up qualification to the knockouts with two games to spare.
Either side of that routine win on Czech soil, heavyweight forwards such as Robert Lewandowski, Lisandro Martinez, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi all fired blanks in meetings with the perennial Champions League contenders. Sure, upcoming opponents City have Erling Haaland, who scored five times across seven meetings with Bayern as a Borussia Dortmund player – but he lost every single one of them. One way or another, Bayern find a way to make even the very best flop.
Bayern made light work of Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16. – IMAGO/Ulrich Hufnagel/IMAGO/Ulrich Hufnagel
2) The Tuchel factor
Tuchel’s appointment as Bayern head coach during the March international break sent shockwaves around the footballing world, not least given Julian Nagelsmann‘s aforementioned 100 percent record en route to this term’s Champions League quarter-finals. The defending Bundesliga champions arguably saved their best under Nagelsmann for Europe, encapsulated by the ease with which they beat PSG 3-0 over two legs in the round of 16. But if they were the form team after that tie, the Bavarians have to be considered the outright tournament favourites with Tuchel at the helm.
It was Tuchel who took moneybags PSG to their first Champions League final in 2019/20, eventually losing 1-0 to Hansi Flick’s Bayern following a goalkeeping clinic by Manuel Neuer (remember that point about Bayern finding a way?). A year later, he went the distance in charge of an unfancied Chelsea team, overcoming Real Madrid in the last four and Guardiola‘s Man City in the final. The ex-Mainz and BVB strategist masterminded a dogged 1-0 victory, just as he had earlier in the season in the FA Cup semi-finals, whilst restricting the reigning English Premier League champions to one shot on target. No wonder they call him ‘Pep’s Kryptonite’.
Watch: Thomas Tuchel’s Bayern – tactical analysis
3) Leroy Sane to the fore
As well as world-class tactical nous, Tuchel’s acclaimed man management bodes well for Bayern’s pursuit of Champions League glory. He made a world-beater out of Andre Schürle at Mainz, gave USMNT poster boy Christian Pulisic the platform to shine at Dortmund and rejuventated the career of Germany defender Antonio Rüdiger at Chelsea to name but a few. In his first training session with Bayern, the 49-year-old was pictured jokingly kicking Leroy Sane up the backside.
Read into it what you will, but the Tuchel boot had the desired effect. Sane proceeded to have a direct hand in two goals as Bayern beat Dortmund 4-2 in Der Klassiker, taking his total goal involvement for the season to 21 in all competions. He’s actually Bayern’s top scorer in the 2022/23 Champions League, thanks to his four goals across their first three group matches.
On the surface, the numbers don’t suggest massive room for improvement – but Sane’s output had been on the wane since a muscular injury that ruled him out of return fixtures against Barcelona and Inter prior to the 2022 World Cup break. If Tuchel can help Sane rediscover his best form and decipher his most effective position, Guardiola may well be left to rue the day he let the Germany attacker leave Manchester for Munich.
Watch: Leroy Sane – aiming for consistency
4) Sadio Mane LOVES playing City
Sadio Mane could be another top Bayern star to benefit from Tuchel’s warm embrace (or playful boot up the proverbial). The club’s marquee summer signing was on 11 goals and four assists before missing Senegal’s World Cup campaign following knee surgery, but is yet to score in eight games since returning to first-team action at the end of February.
As with Sane, there are question-marks over his exact role in the Bayern attack, but no doubts over his ability in the final third. City know that more than most from the reigning African Player of the Year‘s stint in England with Liverpool. His 10 goals in 19 appearances against the Citizens is the second highest total among active players, behind former teammate Mohamed Salah (11 in 19).
Guardiola also has former protégés Joshua Kimmich and Kingsley Coman to worry about, along with the likes of Thomas Müller – who won three Bundesliga titles and reached as many Champions League semi-finals during the Catalan’s 2013-2016 tenure at the Allianz Arena – Man City loanee Joao Cancelo, Alphonso Davies, Leon Goretzka, Serge Gnabry, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Jamal Musiala. Talk about attacking riches!
5) Made for the big stage
Bayern’s all-star cast was a big part of the reason Tuchel opted to join Bayern. That and their in-built winning drive that has yielded over 60 major titles, including Bundesliga, DFB Cup and Champions League trebles as recently as 2012/13 and 2019/20.
Bayern had already won four Champions League/European Cup titles when Man City made their competition debut in 2011/12. In the ensuing period alone, the Bundesliga giants have reached the semi-finals or better on seven occasions, accounting for English Premier League opposition in five knockout ties along the way. All signs point to Guardiola’s City being their latest scalp on the road to Istanbul.