Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting can boast of being Bayern’s super nine. The perfect premier class group stage for Munich can mean everything – and nothing.
Everyone continues to marvel at “Super-Choupo” – just not himself.
After his fantastic precision long-range shot into the goal corner against Inter Milan, with which Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scored the furious end of a flawless six-win group stage by FC Bayern Munich in the Champions League at 2-0 (1-0), the 1.91 meter tall center forward stood up in front of the TV camera and said full of self-confidence: “I know what I can do. And I know that I can help the team a lot with my qualities. It’s been going great in the last few weeks .”
Self-praise stinks – but the 33-year-old top scorer can boast about himself. “Of course I’m happy with my goals and assists,” says the attacker, who is imitating ex-teammate Robert Lewandowski game after game. “He snaps everything,” enthused goalkeeper Sven Ulreich. Choupo’s name was only missing once among the goalscorers in Munich’s seven competitive wins in a row.
“Exactly what we need right now”
“It’s just great to see him like that. He can do exactly what we need right now,” said sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic. The Bavarians play and win again with a real nine, who moors balls, discards them and hits them himself.
“He’s on a roll and can continue like that,” said coach Julian Nagelsmann. When Choupo fired from 20 meters with a perfect shot in the 72nd minute, talent Mathys Tel was already on the sidelines ready to change. “No, I wouldn’t have left him on it any longer,” Nagelsmann revealed later. With the last action, Choupo quickly crowned his next top performance: “I plucked up courage and thought I’d shoot from afar – great goal.” Then he performed a little cheering dance with Bavaria’s cabin DJ Alphonso Davies.
But it’s not just for Choupo, who was named UEFA’s Man of the Match. Overall, things are going as they should at FC Bayern, for which defender Benjamin Pavard was able to celebrate his first premier class goal against Inter. 18 points and 18:2 goals – Bayern were Europe’s No. 1 in the group stage; sportingly and also financially with almost 80 million euros in UEFA bonuses.
And what does that mean? Are Bayern THE favorites for the title? Oliver Kahn waved it off: “Who should it do anything to say now: ‘We are the best’!” They have to be in the spring of 2023 when it comes to the knockout rounds. Six wins in the group stage can mean anything – or nothing. In the 2019/20 season, Bayern started under Hansi Flick after the first 18-point preliminary round until winning the title at the final tournament in Lisbon.
In pre-season out against outsiders
In the last premiere season of successor Nagelsmann, on the other hand, it was over after 18 points in the quarter-finals – against the outsiders FC Villarreal. “Last year we also played a very good group phase and a not so good knockout phase,” recalled the Bayern coach: “So we have to take a few steps differently than last year.” Nevertheless, the development makes him feel positive. You play “very grown up”. He is therefore “in good spirits that we can transport the spirit that prevails in the group into the new year”.
First of all, after the upcoming final sprint in the league, the Winter World Cup will “break the rhythm”, as Nagelsmann emphasized. The prize question is: In what physical and mental condition will the many Munich World Cup participants return from Qatar? The question of the opponent in the round of 16 will be clarified beforehand.
The draw will take place on Monday. In knockout round one, a German duel with a group runner-up like Dortmund or Frankfurt is not yet possible, but one with FC Brugge or a heavyweight like FC Liverpool. Super Choupo is looking forward to it – and of course he’s confident: “The Champions League is a super cool competition. And we want to win every game.”