Bayern aren't Euro chokers: Lahm
Captain Philipp Lahm has insisted Bayern Munich will not choke again in the Champions League at the Allianz Arena tonight.
The pain of last May’s Champions League final defeat in Munich on penalties to Chelsea clearly still smarts. “Cruel,” replied Lahm when asked for one word to sum up the moment Chelsea’s Didier Drogba slotted home the winning spot-kick.
When a British journalist asked Lahm if he knew the English expression “chokers”, the Bayern captain’s reply left no doubt that the term was not in his vocabulary. “No, I don’t know that one,” he said with a smile.
Arsenal again proved Bayern are beatable in Munich with a 2-0 last-16 win in March as the Bavarians squeezed through on away goals — after their 3-1 win in London.
Lahm insists Bayern have learnt the lessons from losing last year’s final by sweeping aside all Bundesliga rivals, winning 26 of their 30 games to date, and they are now closing in on a third Champions League final in four years.
“It was a huge disappointment to lose the final at home, but we see we have learnt from that and come back much better, especially in this season’s Champions League,” said the Germany captain.
“We have just developed further and strengthened our squad over the summer. Everyone in the squad can come in and give a performance. I think that has helped us.”
A key factor for this semi-final is whether Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi will start having laboured in recent weeks with a hamstring injury that saw him miss Saturday’s 1-0 win against Levante in La Liga.
Despite struggling for fitness, Messi had a huge impact when he came off the bench to help his team draw with PSG in the second leg of their quarter-finals.
That 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou took the Catalans through on away goals, and now Messi is expected to start against Bayern.
“Messi is the best player in the world, with him Barcelona play better and when he came on against PSG, you could see his involvement,” said Lahm.
“When he’s on, the standard goes up, but Barca aren’t just about Messi. I don’t really care who we face, they are all top players.”