Nagelsmann challenges Bayern to 'send a message'
Julian Nagelsmann has challenged Bayern Munich to "send a message" to their Champions League rivals by completing a group-stage double over Barcelona.
Hosts Barcelona are staring at elimination ahead of Wednesday's Group C clash at Camp Nou, where even victory might not be enough to keep them in the hunt for a last-16 spot – they need Viktoria Plzen to cause a shock against Inter in the other group game.
Bayern, however, are determined to take all three points, and head coach Nagelsmann said on the eve of the game his players should ignore the issues affecting their opposition.
"We're already through to the next round," he said. "To be honest, it's not important to me who else gets through. The only thing that matters to me is that we finish first.
"We have nothing against Barca, but we have a passion for winning. If you want to win the Champions League, you have to send a message to your opponents. Tomorrow will be an opportunity to do exactly that."
Lucas Hernandez and Leroy Sane scored when Bayern beat Barcelona 2-0 at the Allianz Arena six weeks ago, after the Bundesliga champions somehow kept out the LaLiga side in the first half.
Nagelsmann reckoned Barcelona could have been 3-0 up by the break in that game, but their lack of a clinical finish proved costly.
By taking just one point from two games against Inter since, the Catalans are careering towards elimination from the top tier and a heavy landing in the Europa League.
Nagelsmann laughed off an airport arrival video showing Thomas Muller saying he and Bayern were coming for Robert Lewandowski, the striker who left the Germans for Barcelona after a 50-goal 2021-22 season.
Nagelsmann said Muller and Lewandowski have "a great connection" and stressed how he was pleased, going by Instagram posts, that Lewandowski appears to be content with life at Barcelona.
"I saw he scored a lot of goals, so I think he's happy," Nagelsmann said.
"I'm always happy when people I've worked with are happy in their lives, and it looks like he is by his posts. We are happy too, so it's all good."
Lewandowski has managed 17 goals in 15 games for Barcelona so far. Five of those goals have come in the Champions League, a hat-trick against Viktoria Plzen and two late on in the 3-3 Camp Nou draw with Inter.
As Barcelona look like heading out of the top-tier competition, Nagelsmann at least had praise for the "extreme" change he has seen at the club in recent times.
"It's always good to improve your squad and Barcelona did that. They have a great squad," said the Bayern boss. "It's a massive squad with a lot of success on the European stage and national level.
"They are one of the most attractive teams to watch. I'm not sure how it will affect them financially in the event of an exit."