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Champions League: Bayern are in the semi-finals

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Champions League: Bayern are in the semi-finals

After the quarter-final win against Arsenal, Bayern will now face Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final.

FC Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel in conversation with the goalscorer of the decisive 1-0: Joshua Kimmich.

Christian Kolbert / Imago

Who could possibly think that there is something wrong with this football team? After a game like this that demanded a lot from her, but at the same time also impressively showed her class.

Thanks to a header from Joshua Kimmich, Bayern defeated second-placed Arsenal 1-0 in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday evening and thus advanced to the semi-finals.

For the moment, Bayern were celebrated by the fans as if they had just won their twelfth championship in a row. They are lagging behind in the Bundesliga, 16 points behind the new champions Leverkusen. But maybe this year they will have a really big triumph, like they did in 2001, 2013 and 2020: victory in the Champions League.

For Tuchel, reaching the semi-finals means “a lot”

That cannot be ruled out. «The semi-final means a lot to me. The second half was very strong for us. I am proud of the team performance,” said Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel. You could definitely see his satisfaction.

Because this performance thwarted Bayern’s season. For a moment they were weakened: the constant bickering in Munich, the bad temper, the biting criticism and the dissatisfaction in the club, which led to Tuchel not fulfilling his contract.

At the end of the season it will be over for him, without a successor having been chosen. The fact that Tuchel, who won the 2021 Champions League with Chelsea FC and narrowly failed in the final against FC Bayern with Paris Saint-Germain the year before, is not considered good enough in Munich is one of the paradoxes that the picture of the German record champion for some time now.

No matter how appealing Bayern’s performance against the top English club was, how robust and decisive, the discussions in the coming days and weeks will revolve around Tuchel’s successor.

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All sorts of names are circulating. That of Ralf Rangnick, the Austrian national coach, but also that of Zinedine Zidane, who led Real Madrid to the Champions League title three times in a row. The likelihood of Zidane’s signing is likely to be small, an old acquaintance is considered the favorite, and this particular personality would not be without a certain amount of humor: According to reports, it is Julian Nagelsmann – the coach who was fired in March last year and who is currently the German national coach.

Nagelsmann’s dismissal has been controversial ever since. Some are of the opinion that it was a big mistake. Uli Hoeness, the long-time Bayern manager and president, once told Bayerischer Rundfunk. Hoeness is said to have been surprised at Nagelsmann’s way of working behind the scenes.

If Nagelsmann were to take over the German national team last October in order to prepare them for the European Championship in their own country, a constellation would emerge that would be hard to beat in terms of explosiveness: never before has a coach become the successor to his successor in the Bundesliga. This shows how great the need is for the people of Munich, who apparently also tried to get Xabi Alonso. However, he prefers to stay at his old place of work for the time being.

In Munich, a trainer can quickly burn his fingers

This is understandable. Why should a man to whom all doors in the football world are open after winning the Bundesliga title with Leverkusen should feel the need to keep order in Munich when there is a great risk of burning his fingers there.

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Ultimately, the class of a trainer is no guarantee of successful cooperation. Tuchel and Nagelsmann were by no means fixable solutions either. They are top coaches and were considered the best possible solution for FC Bayern at the time of their engagement.

However, the fact that the Munich team managed to dismantle such coaches within a very short time says a lot about the club culture. The management duo at the time, Hasan Salihamidzic and Oliver Kahn, were responsible for Nagelsmann’s dismissal. The two lost their positions, CEO Kahn was succeeded by Jan-Christian Dreesen, Salihamidzic by former Gladbach and Leipzig manager Max Eberl.

Eberl is considered a level-headed fellow. Unless, as he did two years ago in Mönchengladbach, he quits his managerial job overnight and declares that he no longer wants to have anything to do with football, he doesn’t tend to rush things. If he had anything to do with Nagelsmann, he could approach this unburdened.

However, there is still the team that Nagelsmann already knows – and not just from his previous work in Munich. Since then, he has seen some players at the national team’s appearances in his job as national coach. This raises a question that could soon become important for him: How should Nagelsmann deal with national players at the European Championships who he knows he will see again after the tournament at the start of training at the club? It can be assumed that a trainer tries to approach a task as incorruptibly as possible. However, the fact that he is completely free from any bias in his actions can usually be ruled out.

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Tuchel knows how to win the Champions League

In this respect, Nagelsmann’s return to Munich would certainly have its appeal. It would be a very interesting experiment. However, it is not guaranteed that this will happen. The German Football Association (DFB) apparently wants to keep Nagelsmann beyond the European Championships; The extension of the contract of the popular hero Rudi Völler as DFB sports director is interpreted by observers as a signal in the direction of Nagelsmann. Völler appreciates the young coach.

And Tuchel? The confusing situation doesn’t even have to have a negative impact on him. Internationally, he achieved his best result since 2020. The discussions about himself are behind him, now it’s all about the Champions League title, and Tuchel knows how to win this title. A look at the club icon Jupp Heynckes makes it clear that a coach whose days are numbered in Munich can achieve remarkable things.

At the beginning of 2013, Bayern told their old friend that they were not interested in extending his contract. At that time they had reached a trade agreement with Josep Guardiola. For Heynckes, this was a disappointment – ​​and an incentive. He won the Champions League with Bayern against Borussia Dortmund at Wembley Stadium in London in the same year. Exactly this scenario is also possible this year after Dortmund reached the semi-finals: the final will be played in the English national stadium.

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