In his game of liar poker against Paris SG in the round of 16 of the Champions League, Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann has a joker up his sleeve capable of tipping the match Wednesday evening (9:00 p.m.): Sadio Mané .
African Cup of Nations winner with Senegal, Champions League finalist with Liverpool, African Player of the Year for the second time (after 2019), Ballon d’Or runner-up and a successful acclimatization to Bayern after a transfer in the summer: the year 2022 of Sadio Mané has been almost perfect.
Almost only because an injury to the right fibula in early November at the Allianz Arena turned him into a nightmare, forced to go to the operating table, and forced to give up, with a heavy heart, the World Cup in Qatar, where he could play spoilsport with Senegal.
“Obviously it hurt me not to be able to participate in the World Cup. I was sad, but these are things that can happen. I had to accept the difficult situation and remain optimistic. It wasn’t easy mentally, but this experience can help me in the future,” Sadio Mané told the German weekly Sport Bild.
On February 26, one hundred and ten days later (the longest period of absence of his career), the flagship Bavarian rookie of the summer of 2022 made his return to the lawn of the Allianz Arena, the same where he s was injured nearly four months earlier.
Before the reception of PSG, Sadio Mané has an hour of play in the legs in two appearances against Union Berlin and Stuttgart (victories 3-0 and 2-1).
– “Sadio is physically 100%” –
To muddy the waters before facing Paris SG in the round of 16 second leg of the C1, Nagelsmann underlined the progress made by the 30-year-old Senegalese, leaving doubt about a possible tenure.
“Sadio is physically at 100% of his means,” explained the Bavarian technician after the narrow success in Stuttgart.
“I don’t think he’ll start the game, but it’s not decided yet. It will also be important that we bring quality from the bench. If Sadio doesn’t play from the start, he can also be decisive coming from the bench,” he added at a press conference on Tuesday.
“I’m fine. It’s been a long time, but now I feel much better. Being able to be on the pitch again with my colleagues and having the ball at my feet makes me happy. The first leg against PSG came too early, but the return match has always been in the back of my mind”, slipped Mané to Sport Bild.
During the time of his injury, he saw the return to prominence of Kingsley Coman – five goals in February, including the win at the Parc des Princes three weeks ago – in Nagelsmann’s starting XI, while the The center-forward position is now occupied by the Cameroonian Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (still a scorer in the league on Saturday).
Before his injury, Nagelsmann had only benched Mané twice in twenty-three matches played by the Munich players.
In a bloated Bavarian squad – on Saturday in Stuttgart, Mané came into play in the 63rd minute with internationals Leroy Sané and Serge Gnabry, in place of Coman, Choupo-Moting, and Jamal Musiala – he will now have to gradually rebuild his titular position.
A major challenge which will be facilitated in the event of a good performance against PSG on Wednesday evening. And add one more piece to Nagelsmann’s rather complicated puzzle for the composition of his starting XI until the end of the season.