Bayern Munich boss Tuchel faces biggest test against Lazio in Champions League last 16

German coach battling to overturn first-leg deficit as PSG travel to Spain to take on Real Sociedad

Bayern Munich manager Thomas Tuchel faces a crunch game against Lazio at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday. AFP
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Bayern Munich manager Thomas Tuchel goes into Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 showdown against Lazio with his job on the line at the Allianz Arena.

The Bundesliga giants trail by a goal after last month’s first leg in Rome and defeat in Munich could hasten Tuchel’s exit from the club.

The loss against Lazio, thanks to a 69th-minute Ciro Immobile penalty, was the second in a trio of defeats that prompted Bayern to announce that Tuchel will leave at the end of the season.

Bayern trail Bayer Leverkusen by a massive 10 points in the league and are already out of the German Cup, so their best hope of silverware hangs on beating Lazio to advance to the Champions League quarter-finals.

Defeat against the Italians will almost certainly bring a premature end to Tuchel’s short reign. He joined Bayern on a two-year deal in March last year, a few months after his departure from Chelsea.

Bayern’s latest setback in the league was a 2-2 draw with Freiburg on Friday, which allowed Xabi Alonso’s Leverkusen to stretch their lead at the top of the table.

One of the sticking points for Tuchel this season has been his frequent criticism of his players and he let rip again after the Freiburg defeat.

“I saw the effort in the first half, but it was really undisciplined in the positions,” said Tuchel. “It was partly hari-kari. I think we had periods where our centre-back went behind the full-back. We did things that we had never trained before, that we never talked about."

Looking forward to the Lazio game, Tuchel was more upbeat.

“We’ve had these ups and downs for a very long time. So it’s not out of the question that we’ll deliver a top performance on Tuesday,” he said. “We’re going to need one over 90 minutes.

“We will prepare the team for it and push ourselves there in a positive manner. And then we have to deliver.”

Striker Harry Kane, in search of the first trophy of his career, will be the key man for Bayern. The Englishman has scored four times in the Champions League already to take his tally to 31 goals from 32 games since joining the club from Tottenham Hotspur.

Bayern will be without Kingsley Coman, Daniel Peretz, Tarek Buchmann, Noussair Mazraoui, Sacha Boey and Bouna Sarr through injury.

There is a fitness question mark over Leroy Sane, although Tuchel said he would most probably be available, and Dayot Upamecano is suspended after being sent off in the first leg against Lazio.

On the plus side for Tuchel, Lazio are also under pressure. Maurizio Sarri's men have lost three of their four Serie A matches since beating Bayern.

They will also be missing Patric and Nicolo Rovella through injury.

Paris Saint-Germain, meanwhile, travel to Spain to face Real Sociedad in San Sebastian.

Luis Enrique’s side, who hold a 2-0 lead from the first leg, will be looking to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the eighth time.

The French champions will be relying on superstar forward Kylian Mbappe – who has scored eight goals in his last six matches against Spanish sides – to see them past Imanol Alguacil’s outfit.

Mbappe, who will leave the Parisian club for Real Madrid at the end of the season, scored the opener in the first leg against the Basque team before Bradley Barcola added a second at the Parc des Princes.

The task for the French side is made easier by the fact that Alguacil will be without several key players for the game, including former Real Madrid and Bayern Munich full-back Alvaro Odriozola. Martin Merquelanz, Aihen Munoz and Carlos Fernandez will also miss out.

Enrique, too, has injury concerns, especially in defence, with centre-half options Milan Skriniar, Presnel Kimpembe and Danilo Pereira all ruled out.

However, the Spanish coach can welcome Brazilian centre-back Marquinhos back into the team.

Marco Asensio is a doubt after being withdrawn against Monaco in PSG's last game.

Updated: March 04, 2024, 4:25 PM