Sports

April 30, 2024

Champions League: Bayern ready for ‘extraordinary’ Bellingham, says Tuchel

Champions League: Bayern ready for ‘extraordinary’ Bellingham, says Tuchel

Tuchel

Bayern Munich manager Thomas Tuchel said Monday his side were ready for the threat posed by “extraordinary” Real Madrid midfielder Jude Bellingham in their Champions League semi-final first leg.

Tuesday’s clash at the Allianz Arena between 14-time winners Real and Bayern, with six Champions League titles, is the most played semi-final in the competition’s history.

England midfielder Bellingham, still just 20, joined Real Madrid before the start of the season from Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund.

Bellingham has since become one of Real’s most important players and is already considered among the world’s best.

He is their top goalscorer in La Liga this season with 17 goals and has also netted four times in the Champions League.

Tuchel said Bellingham was “a key player in a very offensive position” for the Spanish giants.

“Jude is extraordinary… He was fantastic here in the Bundesliga, how he progressed shows the level of personality he has, it’s only possible with a huge personality,” he said.

“Everyone who plays for Madrid plays with the pressure of the shirt. He plays with the pressure to play with this club and all the expectations.

“He handles it like he’s never done anything else. But we are well aware of it and will try and find solutions tomorrow (Tuesday).”

Tuchel said Bayern would host not only the Spanish champions elect, but “an aura, a legend that surrounds them”.

The coach, who won the Champions League with Chelsea in 2021 having taken Paris Saint-Germain to the final the previous season, said Real were not the only team with experience in the competition.

“Not only me but the team has experience. Right now we have a good mix between anticipation and tension.”

Eight members of Bayern’s squad were on the opposite side to Tuchel’s PSG when Bayern won the 2020 Champions League final.

Captain Manuel Neuer and veteran forward Thomas Mueller also won the title at Wembley in 2013.

“You need luck, momentum, freedom, the whole package to overcome Real Madrid in the semi-finals,” Tuchel added.

“If it only came down to experience, then I wouldn’t have a chance,” Tuchel said in reference to opposite number Carlo Ancelotti, who has won a record four Champions League titles as a coach.

Ancelotti, who coached Bayern to the 2016-17 Bundesliga title, responded at his press conference by praising his former club and compared them to Real, while calling Tuchel “a tactical genius.”

“Bayern played spectacular (quarter-final) matches against Arsenal, one of Europe’s strongest teams.

“This shows the quality and the history of the club, which is very comparable to the history we have in this competition.”

Ancelotti said Bayern and Real were “two teams with no rigid identity”, which meant “we can play in different ways.”

– ‘We don’t need to hide’ –

Bayern midfielder Joshua Kimmich said Real’s “self-confidence and belief” allowed them to “win games even when they’re not at all the best team”.

“They believe in their strengths and they believe in their quality — that’s what makes them dangerous. It’s definitely not just luck.”

Kimmich, who set up the only goal in Bayern’s 2020 final victory, said his side “don’t need to hide” on Tuesday.

“Against Real Madrid, it’s a little bit more special. They’re a giant club. A Champions League semi, Bayern vs Real, everyone interested in football will be watching.”

Tuchel said he would make a “last-minute” decision on whether injured quintet Leroy Sane, Jamal Musiala, Matthijs de Ligt, Konrad Laimer and Dayot Upamecano were ready for Tuesday’s match.

On Monday afternoon, all except de Ligt took part in training.

Serge Gnabry will return from a muscle injury, as will Alphonso Davies, who was suspended for the quarter-final second leg against Arsenal.