UEFA Champions League: Mueller urges Bayern to answer cup criticism in Europe

Thomas Mueller says Bayern Munich must use the criticism from its shock German Cup disaster to help it secure a spot in the Champions League knockout phase by beating Benfica on Tuesday.

“When FC Bayern crashes out of the cup with a 5-0 defeat, it’s clear that one or two comments are made that are slightly below the belt,” said Mueller.

The 32-year-old scored and created three assists Saturday as Bayern romped to a 5-2 win at Union Berlin to stay top of the Bundesliga three days after its 5-0 cup thrashing at Borussia Moenchengladbach.

In Europe, Bayern is five points clear in Group E and a win over second-placed Benfica would guarantee a spot in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Bayern was hurt by a string of negative headlines amid the fallout of its shock cup defeat which Mueller wants to use as extra motivation.

“(The criticism) is okay with me, we’re not made of egg shells – you have to be able to take it sometimes, but we must not forget that we are still out of the cup,” said Mueller.

READ: Berlin derby in German Cup, Dortmund drawn at St. Pauli

“We didn’t just lose a game, but (are out of) a competition that means a lot to us. We have to deal with that accordingly,” he added.

Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski, who netted twice in Berlin on Saturday, is set to make his 100th Champions League appearance.

“We showed from the very first minute that we are here to win,” said Lewandowski in Berlin. “Now we can focus on Tuesday.”

The Poland star has already scored five goals in three European games this season.

He netted twice in both the 3-0 win at Barcelona and the 5-0 home rout of Dynamo Kiev before scoring again in the 4-0 romp against Benfica in Lisbon two weeks ago.

Bayern head coach Julian Nagelsmann, who missed the win in Portugal after testing positive for Covid-19, is expected to be back on the bench after spending 14 days at home in isolation.

Mueller described Bayern’s listless cup performance at Gladbach as the worst he has witnessed in 13 years playing for the club.

But Nagelsmann’s assistant, Dino Toppmoeller, believes Mueller is playing some of the best football of his distinguished career.

The Germany international has scored six times in 16 appearances for Bayern this season, adding 11 assists.

“Thomas is a very important player for us with a lot of experience and in games like this, you need leaders like Thomas,” said Toppmoeller.

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