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Feature: Nagelsmann steps into the limelight after eliminating PSG

by Oliver Trust

BERLIN, March 8 (Xinhua) -- It has been an unwritten law in the books of Bayern Munich for decades that a coach's expiration date is closely connected to success.

In advance of the second leg of the UEFA Champions League last-16 tie against Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann spoke about a game of paramount relevance.

Former Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge expressed things more drastically by calling it "the season's most important game."

Considering the emerging tensions around the club in advance, Nagelsmann has survived a do-or-die challenge.

Last season's disappointing exit in the quarterfinal against underdogs Villareal in Nagelsmann's first Bayern year remained a threatening and heavy burden for the former RB Leipzig manager until the early stages of 2023.

Considering the expectations the 2020 treble winners' coaches traditionally face, Nagelsmann made a step out of the dark into the pleasantly warming light by winning the duel 3-0 on aggregate and proceeding to the next round.

Statistics might have spoken in favor of the reigning German champions from the beginning as Bayern have lost only two of 23 Champions League duels after having won the first leg.

As a curious side-effect, it was again a former PSG player scoring a decisive goal.

In Paris in mid-February, PSG graduate Kingsley Coman delivered the winner for Bayern. This time, it was fellow PSG alumnus Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting who netted the first goal, followed by Serge Gnabry's late strike.

Coman's goal echoed his strike in the 2020 Champions League final, when the French international scored the only goal as Bayern beat PSG in that year's showpiece event.

Facing PSG has not only been a mental stress test for Nagelsmann, but turned into a successful test of character for the squad.

The victory in Paris was mainly grounded on Nagelsmann's tactical inspirations.

Things haven't been different as the Bayern coach managed to keep his side's mental strength alive to shackle two of the world's best footballers in Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi.

Prospects have changed to good for now as the next round has been reached, while the team are still leading the Bundesliga and remain in the German Cup.

"We survived some tricky situations in the first half but in the end turned into the superior side," said striker Thomas Muller, praising his team's robustness and tenacity.

Nagelsmann spoke about a bumpy start but "we have turned things around and can be happy about the team's strong will and passionate fighting spirit."