A stunning defeat at the hands of Villarreal in the quarter-finals of the Champions League last season left a huge stain on Julian Nagelsmann's debut campaign as Bayern Munich boss.
For a club that's so used to claiming domestic success, their performance in Europe is often used as a measuring stick in regards to determining the efficacy of both their players and manager.
Bayern were light years away from the continent's elite under Niko Kovac not so long ago before Hansi Flick helped them return to the pinnacle of club football in 2020. The Bavarians are European behemoths once more, and the manner in which they've dismantled the supposed 'Group of Death' in this year's competition may well be a sign of things to come in 2023.
They mean business.
Bayern responded to being draw into Group C – the 'Group of Death – by winning the group with a game to spare.
Outside of the opening 45 minutes of their Matchday 2 affair at home to Barcelona, during which former striker Robert Lewandowski missed a hatful of chances, Nagelsmann's side have rarely looked flustered. A sterling second-half showing in that contest saw them run out 2-0 winners after they'd eased past Inter 2-0 away from home on Matchday 1.
A pair of cakewalks ensued against Viktoria Plzen (5-0 and 4-2 wins) before they knocked Barça out of the competition with another 2-0 win at the Nou Camp on Matchday 5.
They're just one of two teams to boast a 100% record through five games, along with Napoli, and they've qualified for the round of 16 as group winners as a result with Inter travelling to Munich on Matchday 6.
Leroy Sane is currently Bayern's top scorer in the competition with four goals, while Sadio Mane has scored three times.
With Bayern progressing into the round of 16 as group winners, they'll be taking on one of the eight runners-up from the group stage.
In terms of high-profile opponents, Nagelsmann's side could face Liverpool or AC Milan in the last 16. Real Madrid and PSG could also finish second in their respective groups if things take a turn for them on Matchday 6.
The Bavarian giants will back themselves to beat anybody in the first knockout round, but a favourable draw would be the second-place team from either Group B (Porto or Club Brugge) or D (Tottenham, Sporting CP or Marseille).
This article was originally published on 90min as Who could Bayern Munich face in the 2022/23 Champions League knockout stages?.
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