Wednesday 21 February 2018

Pep Guardiola loses cool over talk of Bayern exit

Bayern’s head coach Pep Guardiola looks a little exasperated during yesterday’s press conference at the Allianz Arena
Bayern’s head coach Pep Guardiola looks a little exasperated during yesterday’s press conference at the Allianz Arena
Defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano insists Barcelona will attack Bayern Munich tomorrow night in the Allianz Arena

Tim Rich

He was no a longer a glacially cool figure - Pep Guardiola was agitated. He was irritated by questions about whether he would cut and run to Manchester City.

He was angry at the four successive defeats that have tarnished Bayern Munich's season. He was furious when asked if he was "still the best coach in the world?"

"I've already said it 200 million times. I have a contract and I will stay here at Bayern, that is all," Guardiola said, when asked to clarify his position at the Allianz Arena ahead of tonight's Champions League semi-final second leg against Barcelona.

"I didn't come here as 'the best trainer in the world'," he added. "That is so much crap.

"From the beginning here in Munich I did my very best. I hope it is enough for the players, for the fans, for the legends of Bayern Munich and for the journalists and, if not, I am sorry. It was a dream when Bayern Munich asked me to come here.

"I have won everything in Barcelona and won plenty here but it was down to the players. I won everything in Barcelona because I had this super team full of great players. Last year in Munich I won almost everything but that, too, was down to the players. I am a good trainer for my team - that is all."

With the German champions 3-0 down and facing the prospect of semi-final elimination at the hands of Spanish opposition for the second successive campaign, and the grim possibility of a fifth consecutive defeat in all competitions, Guardiola's future is back on the agenda.

Bayern want him to extend his contract beyond its June 2016 expiry, according to chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. When asked about City's interest, and Guardiola's friendship with Txiki Begiristain, their director of football, Rummenigge was dismissive of the prospects of Bayern losing out to the dethroned Premier League champions.

"I am aware that Begiristain worked with Guardiola at Barcelona at some point," Rummenigge said. "But I cannot imagine that Pep would go to a club like Manchester City."

The availability of Jurgen Klopp following the announcement of his intention to leave Borussia Dortmund has led Franz Beckenbauer, Bayern's honorary president, to hint that the perfect successor to Guardiola is already on the market.

"Of course I could imagine Klopp as Guardiola's successor," Beckenbauer said last week. "When I was president, we often talked about Klopp and believe he would fit very well at Bayern. Klopp is definitely an option at Bayern.

"The question is, how long Guardiola will be in Munich. I hope for a long time, but Klopp would be considered."

Having inherited treble winners from Jupp Heynckes in 2013, Guardiola has failed to maintain Bayern's position as Europe's most formidable team, and elimination against Barcelona would further tilt the balance of power in the club's favour.

But the odds are certainly loaded against Guardiola and Bayern in their attempts to overturn a the first-leg deficit and progress to next month's final in Berlin.

Bayern have scored 19 and conceded just once in five Champions League games in Munich this season, but Barca have never relinquished a three-goal advantage in Europe.


The 44-year-old Bayern manager insists, however, that the qualities of his players will give his side hope against the La Liga leaders.

"There is no problem with this team's mentality. There are six or seven guys in the squad who have won the World Cup and they know what needs to be done.

"But it's not enough to have the most possession and defend well, you also have to create chances against Barcelona.

"The players have showed that they want this. We turned around a 3-1 deficit against Porto, but this is completely different. It's a huge challenge, but we will try."

Barcelona boss Luis Enrique is not taking anything for granted, and has reminded his players about Bayern have already completed some impressive comebacks this season.

"We don't want to have a crazy game and if it is a crazy game we will have to calm it down," Enrique said yesterday.

"We will try to do it with counter attacks. We want to have the ball, we want possession. It will be difficult because Bayern will do the same thing. But we will try to find the spaces and score goals."

Bayern twice showed they are capable of crushing any team at home in the Champions League, first annihilating Shakhtar Donetsk 7-0 after a goalless draw in Ukraine and then demolishing Porto 6-1 after losing their quarter-final first leg 3-1 in Portugal. Against Porto they scored five times in the opening 40 minutes and that is what the Barca coach is desperate to avoid.

"You should not be too confident going into a game like that. You have to respect the opponent, calm your players down, control their emotions."

While Bayern have struggled in recent weeks, Barca are on a high after all but securing the La Liga title the weekend. They have also scored 25 goals and conceded none in their last seven games.

"We will attack, we don't know any other way to play, we don't know how to play a defensive game," said defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano.

"That is the philosophy of our club. Obviously we have an advantage but we will try to find at least one goal." (© Independent News Service)

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