Nagelsmann: Barcelona are not much weaker without Messi 'extravagance'

By Sports Desk September 13, 2021

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann admits Tuesday's Champions League opponent Barcelona will miss Lionel Messi's "extravagance" but believes they are not much weaker without him.

Messi left Barcelona in the off-season to join Paris Saint-Germain after a glittering career at Camp Nou.

The Catalans have started life domestically without Messi with seven points from three games in LaLiga, while they will commence their Champions League campaign on Tuesday against Nagelsmann's Bayern in Barcelona.

"Barcelona definitely don't have the extravagance of a Messi any more. But they also have other players who can play a very important role if you take Frenkie de Jong and Pedri for example," Nagelsmann said at the pre-game news conference.

"We are ready for anything. I don't believe they are much weaker. The future will show if they are any better. But we definitely want to take three points."

Barcelona have a variety of selection issues with injuries to Ousmane Dembele, Ansu Fati, Martin Braithwaite and Sergio Aguero, while Nagelsmann was coy on Serge Gnabry's availability.

Gnabry was substituted with a back problem in Saturday's 4-1 Bundesliga win over RB Leipzig, along with Robert Lewandowski for "precautionary" reasons with a groin complaint.

"We'll have to make a late decision on that one," Nagelsmann said about Gnabry.

"Gnabry will travel. [Corentin] Tolisso will not. [Kingsley] Coman is in the squad but not an option to start. It's looking good for Lewandowski again though."

Bayern thrashed Barcelona 8-2 in the 2020 Champions League quarter-final played as a one-off in Lisbon, adding further spice to their opening Group E fixture.

"Being the favourites or not the favourites is always more of a subject for the media," he said. "Two world-class clubs face each other."

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    Giroud headed in just before the hour mark to spark Milan's revival, with Franck Kessie levelling the scores from the penalty spot before a late decisive own goal from Koray Gunter.

    The result put Stefano Pioli's men top of the table ahead of Napoli's clash with Torino on Sunday.

    In scoring his third goal in his first two Serie A home games, Giroud matched a feat only previous reached by Oliver Bierhoff, Alexandre Pato, Mario Balotelli and Carlos Bacca since 1994-95.

    The former Arsenal and Chelsea striker, who had missed four of Milan's previous five games, admitted it had been a long time coming to be back on the scoresheet.

    "I've waited a long time for this moment. I missed the competition," Giroud, who last scored in the win over Cagliari in August, told DAZN.

    "In the first half, we didn't do well but the reaction was important. I don't feel 100 per cent yet but I am growing and I feel more free.

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    Pioli was left delighted with the endeavour shown by his side in the second half as they now prepare for a key Champions League group game with Porto on Tuesday.

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