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Bayern preparing for crunch time in Champions League knockout stage

Berlin, Sep 15 (IANS) “It’s too early to talk about favourites,” former Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said after the Bavarians demonstrated power by crushing a wavering Barcelona 3-0 in their group opener of the Champions League.

The 65-year-old said the 2021/2022 Champions League campaign contains better-equipped squads, “but looking at the first 16 to 17 players, we are well prepared.”

The former striker mentioned Chelsea and Manchester City commanding a squad of higher quality when it comes to the second-row players, reports Xinhua.

Bayern, Rummenigge added, has gained respect after delivering a solid performance against Barcelona on Tuesday. “I guess, no one will be happy having to play us when things get tight next year.”

The victory in the club’s curtain-raiser is a milestone as he expects the team of newly-promoted Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann to do further development steps.

The machine is running fairly well already in the former German international’s perspective. “Others still have to catch up as we see,” Rummenigge said.

The former official is eager to see a possible duel against Paris Saint-Germain and its squad of superstars in this season’s campaign.

“I wouldn’t be sure which team is going to be the winner,” the 1980 European champion added.

For Rummenigge, a possible duel against PSG comes near a battle of systems.

While Bayern is counting on a well-balanced spending policy, the French side made huge investments adding stars such as Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos, and Gianluigi Donnarumma to its well-equipped team around Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Last season, Bayern got pushed out by Paris in the quarterfinals.

To meet PSG on level terms, Bayern depends on the goals of its star striker Robert Lewandowski.

Rummenigge called Lewandowski a goal-machine. “Bayern is highly interested to extend his contract over 2023.”

The 33-year-old Pole has experienced that “you can win the Champions League in Bayern’s shirt.”

The Polish national team captain has announced he will prolong his career by another three to four years. “I am physically and mentally prepared to continue,” the striker said.

He praised the work with Nagelsmann. Communication between team and coaching staff is “excellent as Julian (Nagelsmann) has a convincing idea and plan for his tactics.”

Bayern striker Thomas Mueller spoke about an important message for the European competitors.

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said the victory is an “exclamation mark when you develop that kind of dominance against a side like Barcelona.” The German international renewed his ambitions to again win the most important European club event.

Coach Nagelsmann expects further improvements. “We wasted too many goal opportunities. Gaining more efficiency will make us one of the favorites in this season’s competition,” he said.

Rummenigge added that he is happy to see and hear about the team’s determination “as Bayern always claims to be among the best in Europe.”

–IANS

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