LISBON: Bayern Munich will need to play as a team to counter the quality of Barcelona captain Lionel Messi when the two sides meet on Friday in the Champions League quarter-finals, Bayern coach Hansi Flick said on Thursday.
The Bavarians are heavy favourites to beat Barca after sweeping to a domestic double of the Bundesliga and Cup as well as swatting Chelsea aside 7-1 on aggregate in the last 16, while the Catalans ended the season empty handed.
But a fired-up Messi led his team to a 3-1 win at home to Napoli on Saturday for a 4-2 aggregate victory which took them to the last eight for the 13th straight season.
“We have a lot of respect for them because Barcelona have been for decades among the best teams in Europe,” Flick told a news conference. “Messi has been the best player for several years now. An exceptional player.
“But it’s not just Bayern against Messi. It is Bayern against Barcelona. Messi is a world class player and we have obviously thought about how to play him.
“We need to do it as a team. It is important to play smart against him. To see the spaces and put him under pressure in the one-on-ones and win those.”
Bayern left back Alphonso Davies, who enjoyed a sensational season, will have his work cut out against the Argentine but will also need support from his team mates, Bayern attacking midfielder Thomas Mueller said.
“Even though Messi is in outstanding condition currently, you do not defend against him individually,” Mueller said.
“My experience has shown it works only if you defend as a team. If the first player does not win the ball, the next one must come until the first player comes back. We have to face his individual quality together.”