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Sadio Mane is back in the Bayern Munich squad to face Manchester City on Wednesday with manager Thomas Tuchel calling on his side to produce a “miracle” as they seek to overturn the 3-0 deficit from the first leg.
Manchester City travel to the Allianz Arena in Munich as overwhelming favorites to make the semifinals of the Champions League, having won the first leg by a commanding 3-0 margin last week. Tuchel says it’ll take an incredible effort from everyone connected with the club to prevent a quarterfinal exit from the Champions League for the third season running.
“We need a miracle,” Tuchel said. “It would be a miracle actually.”
Tuchel added: “It’s hard, and it’s a huge mountain to climb. We need to believe. We believe in ourselves but we don’t want to be dreamers. Dreaming for me is close to sleeping and if we cannot do one thing, we cannot sleep for one second.
“We need to believe and make it happen by performance, team spirit and energy — we have ourselves and team, we have teammates, spectators who are ready to fight with us and then we need to have a realistic level.
“If you look at the top of the huge mountain, you may feel overwhelmed so we take it step by step, half by half, and the challenge is tough enough, we don’t need to make it tougher by looking at the size of the mountain. We will start the journey and be ready to go all the way.”
Tuchel will look to Mane for inspiration with the ex-Liverpool forward back in the mix after he was suspended by the club for the weekend’s 1-1 draw with Hoffenheim.
Mane was stood down for one match and fined by Bayern after an altercation with teammate Leroy Sane following the defeat in Manchester last week.
But Tuchel says the club have drawn a line underneath the incident and Mane is in the frame to play Wednesday.
“Sadio is in the squad, we are not talking about the incident anymore — the decision was taken, we will have to wait until tomorrow to see if he starts or not, or off the bench,” Tuchel said.
Tuchel, who took charge of Bayern on March 25 when replacing Julian Nagelsmann, also played down any notion the Mane-Sane incident, fallout and reconciliation will have a galvanizing effect on the team.
“I hope we’d have used it against Hoffenheim, which we obviously didn’t. The subject died, the case is closed,” Tuchel stated. “I don’t think it’ll give us a big boost.”
With Mane back, Tuchel will also have Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to call on. The striker is back fit having missed their last three games with a knee injury and he will feature at some stage versus Manchester City.
“I haven’t decided [if he will start],” Tuchel said. “We have to see his reaction after training to see if his knee will react or not.
“If he gets the green light then he’s an option for the starting 11 — he’s our number 9. If he gets the green light, he will play.”
Joao Cancelo joined Bayern from Man City on loan in January and he’s set to feature in defense — rather than in midfield where he played on occasion versus Hoffenheim — as Bayern look to keep their Champions League dreams alive.
Bayern have won two of Tuchel’s five matches to date and are level at the top of the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund. They were knocked out of the DFB-Pokal at the quarterfinal stage by Freiburg and for a club used to winning everything in front of them, there were suggestions they may be on the slide.
But Tuchel has laughed off such talk and says while the club are in transition, there are many sides the world over who would swap places with Bayern.
“I don’t feel a club in demise, I feel a club in change as big leaders have left the club,” Tuchel said. “We have a change in management, there is a lot of change and we need a bit of time, which we never have, to adjust things.
“I can understand if maybe it’s a bit surprising that Bayern is not in a cup semifinal or final but still they managed to be German champions 10 in a row, three times in a row in the [Champions League] quarterfinals.
“If this is a club in demise then a lot of clubs want to be in demise. I have the feeling I work in a strong club with huge ambitions. We have to calm it down, but also push it to the limits as everything is possible in this club.”