The transition period when joining Bayern Munich can take a while and the pressure to deliver from the first moment is great. Bayern’s big summer signing Matthijs de Ligt feels he is now beyond the settling in period and ready to become the Bavarian’s defensive rock.
Ahead of Bayern’s trip to Barcelona in the Champions League, the 23-year-old Dutchman has spoken of his opening months in Munich as the prospect of facing Robert Lewandowski in the Nou Camp looms large.
Signed from Juventus for €67 million, he was thrust into a three-way fight with Dayot Upamecano and Lucas Hernandez for a spot in the centre of Bayern’s defence. The opening matchdays saw Julian Nagelsmann opt for the latter two, but since Hernandez sustained an adductor muscle injury against Barcelona, de Ligt has formed a solid partnership with Upamecano.
“It was a bit difficult at the beginning. I came straight to Washington. It was normal that I was a little behind. It’s gotten better. I’m in good shape right now, I’m playing all the games. That’s very important for me. I have a very good feeling.
“All my colleagues helped me a lot. I had a good feeling from the start. I’ve arrived now and that’s very important for me. Bayern is a big club with a lot of history. I’m very happy to be a Bayern player.
“As a Bayern central defender, it’s similar to Ajax. It’s important that you’re always ready, that you organize the rest of the defence, you have a lot of one-on-one situations. It was a bit different at Juventus. The years at Juventus were very important to me.
Despite being kept goalless at the Allianz Arena, ex-Bayern striker Lewandowski has proved his worth since moving to Catalonia scoring 12 goals in 11 appearances as well as five in the Champions League. The task of shutting out the prolific Pole is one that will fall upon de Ligt and Upamecano at the Nou Camp on Wednesday.
“You always have respect for a player like Robert Lewandowski, he had a good time at Bayern. When you play against a player like Lewandowski, you always have to be ready and do everything well.
“A game against Barcelona is always difficult, it’s a big game. For every player it’s a game where you need maximum concentration. We want to finish first in the group, so we have to win tomorrow.
“They play very good football. They have developed very well. We have a difficult game ahead of us tomorrow. I’m sure they’ll be motivated regardless of the Inter result. We have to be well prepared.”