Dante confident about Bayern Munich’s chances against Barcelona

(Getty)

(Getty)

…Dante’s team had just won the Bundesliga title with six games to spare but celebrations were disappointingly muted. With the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final against Juventus three days away, the club had decided this was not the time for festivities. Ritual Bavarian “beer showers” and the donning of naff T-shirts were ruled out. However, Dante, a first‑time winner of the German league, could not help himself.

The 29-year-old broke ranks to climb up a fence in front of the Bayern block, swapped his shirt for a plastic version of the Meisterschale (the championship bowl) with one fan, then ran back on to the pitch waving his bounty around with a touching, child-like euphoria. “The club want to put this thing in the museum but at the moment it’s in my house,” he says.

That bit of unfiltered joy cemented his status as the Munich supporters’ new cult hero, and it has also become the defining image of Bayern’s campaign thus far.

Dante, a defender of quiet, unassuming elegance and unshakeable calmness, has become the unlikely figurehead for a team on the brink of a historic treble. To be sure, fellow Bayern new boys Javier Martínez, the €40m midfielder from Athletic Bilbao, and the tireless striker Mario Mandzukic (€13m from Wolfsburg) have also added fine layers of quality that last year’s beaten finalists might have been missing, but it is Dante’s dependability, athleticism and passing that have taken Jupp Heynckes’s side that extra step further. His skill set has enabled them to add some high, opponent-unnerving pressing to their game.

“Barcelona have a great team, the greatest show on earth. But we are at our best at this moment in time, and we certainly won’t change our game for them. We don’t change for anyone.” He adds that Barcelona’s recent performances in the away games to Milan (a 2-0 defeat) and Paris Saint-Germain (2-2) have shown “that they concede goals”.

So do Bayern, at least in Europe – 10 in 10 games. But in the league their figures look impossibly good. A mere “13” in the “against” column after 29 games tells of a superiority that has at times unsettled even themselves.

ante, who arrived at the club a few days after the traumatic defeat at the hands of Chelsea in their own ground in the Champions League final last May, feels that his team-mates have been spurred on by the disappointment. “Everything that has happened has made the team stronger,” he says.

The club hierarchy had feared the opposite might happen. They installed the almost comically dour martinet Matthias Sammer as a sporting director to prevent a lame-duck scenario. At 67, Heynckes, soon to be replaced by Pep Guardiola, was always likely to retire in the summer. What they did not anticipate was just how well Heynckes would handle the dressing room in light of his rotation policy.

When Bayern triggered his release clause of €4.7m after a tip-off from their Brazilian right-back Rafinha, the headline of a press agency introduced him as the Reds’ new “Schnäppchen-Verteidiger“, a bargain defender.

“I was bought to challenge the players they already had,” Dante says. But he always believed that he could be much more than a squad player. “You won’t regret this,” he told Rummenigge the moment after signing his contract. They certainly have not.

Read the entire article on why Dante feels Bayern Munch can beat Barcelona

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