Saturday 20 January 2018

Revenge is sweet: Pep Guardiola leads Bayern to victory over Barcelona

Bayern Munich's coach Pep Guardiola
Bayern Munich's coach Pep Guardiola
Bayern Munich's Jan Kirchhoff (R) challenges Barcelona's Kiko Femenia during the Uli Hoeness Cup friendly soccer match in Munich July 24, 2013.

Karolos Grohmann

New coach Pep Guardiola shuffled the cards at Bayern Munich as the treble winners beat his former club Barcelona 2-0 in a friendly on Wednesday.

The Spaniard, who won 14 of 19 possible titles in four years at Barcelona, made sweeping role changes as he works his way into the new job after the Bavarians won the Champions League and domestic league and Cup double last season under Jupp Heynckes.

 

"It was a special game for me," Guardiola told reporters. "I was a Barcelona player and coach my entire life.

 

"Bayern have given me a very good team. I have nothing to complain about at the moment. My football is easy to understand," he said.

 

Against a second-string Barcelona, missing new coach Gerardo Martino and big-signing Neymar as well as midfielders Xavi and Andres Iniesta among others, Guardiola started the game without a striker.

 

Captain Philipp Lahm was pushed forward into an offensive midfield role after years of playing as right back and recent signing and former Barcelona talent Thiago Alcantara moved straight into midfield.

 

The move paid off in the 15th minute when the diminutive Germany international headed in a smooth Franck Ribery cross.

 

"Barcelona were not complete but the win is still a boost in confidence," said Frenchman Ribery.

 

Bayern, who crushed Barcelona over two legs in the Champions League semi-final last season, were the sharper team in the first half, with their impressive depth in the squad on full display. Barca captain Messi came close in the opening seconds with a sizzling shot but was otherwise shut out.

 

With both teams still in pre-season training, the coaches made many changes in the second half with the game losing its pace and edge.

 

Forward Mario Mandzukic, who came on as a substitute, added another goal late in the game, tapping in from close range.

 

On Tuesday, Barcelona hired Argentine Gerardo Martino, known as a disciple of the club's possession-based style that Guardiola applied successfully, to replace Tito Vilanova.

 

Vilanova, 44, stepped down last week to continue treatment for throat cancer after leading Barca to the La Liga title in his first season since taking over from Guardiola.

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