by Oliver Trust
BERLIN, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) — The trip to Qatar this Friday appears like a journey back to darker moments for several Bayern Munich players.
But in advance of the Bundesliga season restart, time seems short to mentally digest old subjects such as the disappointing 2022 FIFA World Cup, with Bayern’s winter training camp also held in Qatar.
Ahead of the league match against rivals RB Leipzig on January 20 and the delicate Champions League duel against Paris Saint-Germain on February 14, the reigning German champions are facing a burdening range of challenges.
A replacement for injured goalkeeper Manuel Neuer must be found, with media reports speaking of a return for on-loan Alexander Nubel, currently at Monaco, or a move for Borussia Monchengladbach keeper Yann Sommer.
Additionally, coach Julian Nagelsmann needs to trigger new motivation and raise team morale, as well as coping with injuries to Lucas Hernandez and Sadio Mane.
Not only might German internationals be haunted by bad World Cup memories, but French defender Benjamin Pavard and Dutch international Matthijs de Ligt might also digest some unpleasant moments, with both spending most of the World Cup on their respective teams’ benches.
Germany midfielder Joshua Kimmich spoke of fearing a “deep abyss”, and the entire team seems to be facing a hard nut to crack.
While the league is coming along as a long-distance race, the clash with Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last 16 outshines everything.
34-year-old Sommer is said to be the first-choice goalkeeper of sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic and chairman Oliver Kahn.
Reports speak of an investment of five million euros to sign the Switzerland international. Negotiations are said to be advanced as Nagelsmann demands a new keeper to be in place in Qatar.
While Neuer and Hernandez will miss the rest of the season, hope seems to grow to have Mane around. The striker is expected to return to full training in early February.
Nevertheless, pressure seems to rest on the shoulders of coach Nagelsmann as the Bundesliga title seems of secondary importance to the Champions League.
Despite the challenges, Bayern’s club leaders expect the club to reach at least the Champions League semifinals.
While chairman Kahn spoke about the opportunity to prepare for the PSG tie over several weeks, it falls to Nagelsmann to trigger a new spark in his players’ minds.
The pleasant and sunny atmosphere in Qatar seems an appropriate spot to conjure a smile on his player’s faces and get ready for Lionel Messi’s PSG.