Nagelsmann backs Bayern’s Thomas Muller to start against Union Berlin after Gladbach early exit


Thomas Muller will start Sunday’s crucial encounter with Union Berlin after he was taken off after just 16 minutes last weekend.

Thomas Muller will start Bayern Munich’s clash with title rivals Union Berlin on Sunday after he was hauled off early on in the defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach.

Head coach Julian Nagelsmann replaced captain Muller with Joao Cancelo after just 16 minutes against Monchengladbach, tactically swapping Bayern for a goal with 10 men following Dayot Upamecan’s early red card.

The champions lost 3-2 in another blow to their hopes of an 11th successive Bundesliga title as their challengers prevailed.

Nagelsmann’s decision to replace the veteran Muller so soon came under scrutiny after the match as he also opted to start on the bench in Bayern’s first UEFA Champions League 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain.

With the Bavarian side facing shock title challengers Union this weekend, Nagelsmann confirmed the 33-year-old will be in the starting eleven.

“Thomas is a very experienced player, he was told why it was decided,” Nagelsmann said at his pre-match press conference. “You can always discuss it later. I spoke to Thomas and he’s obviously not happy.”

“He is a very professional and important player. His importance is huge because it goes beyond the game itself. He will start on Sunday. He is aware of the overall situation.”

A slip against Monchengladbach allowed Borussia Dortmund and Union to move level on points with Bayern at the top, although the champions’ goal difference means they have held on to their top spot.

Nagelsmann’s men have collected just nine of a possible 18 points since the turn of the year, while Sunday’s opponents have collected 16 over the same period.

A tricky encounter is expected against Union, who have not won a Bundesliga game against Bayern once in seven attempts.

“I expect a top game,” Nagelsmann said. “Union always bring their counter-attacking football to the pitch with their physicality. They are always uncomfortable to play against.

“It will definitely be an exciting and interesting game, hopefully with a better result for us.

Nagelsmann revealed that Bayern could be boosted by the return at some stage of the match for Sadio Mane, who has been out since early November after suffering a leg injury that ruled him out of Senegal’s World Cup campaign.

“Sadio Mane is not fit enough to start,” added Nagelsmann. “But it’s an option we’re really excited about.”