Guardiola likens Juve clash to cup final

Bavarians shift focus to Champions League after bashing Bremen 5-0

Afp March 13, 2016
German champions Bayern Munich pummeled Werder Bremen 5-0 on Saturday, but their Spanish boss knows their impressive showing won’t mean anything against Juventus in midweek. PHOTO: AFP

BERLIN: Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola described Wednesday’s crunch Champions League clash at home to Juventus as effectively being ‘a final’ for the Bavarian giants after they warmed up by routing Werder Bremen.

Thomas Muller and Thiago Alcantara both netted twice on Saturday in Bayern’s 5-0 victory after defeat at home to Mainz and a draw at Borussia Dortmund.

Guardiola admitted his game plan worked like a charm in the lopsided affair. “We played well against Bremen,” said the Spaniard. “I’m the coach, but also a fan of this team and our positioning was better.”

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Bayern now shift their focus to Europe and Juve, having drawn their last-16, first leg 2-2 in Turin after throwing away a two-goal lead.

While Saturday’s showing was impressive, Guardiola is fully aware that it would mean nothing against the Old lady. “Now we have four days before our ‘final’ against Juventus,” he said. “We’ll need our fans behind us from the first to the last minute in order to reach the quarter-finals.”

The victory over Bremen came with Werder missing injured former Bayern striker Claudio Pizarro, while captain Clemens Fritz and dead-ball expert Zlatko Junuzovic were suspended.

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But Guardiola insisted that his team deserve all the praise coming their way. “People think it’s easy to win 5-0, but every game is like a final for us to stay ahead of Dortmund,” said the former Barca boss, who rested Dutch star Arjen Robben from the match-day squad.

Alongside Muller and Thiago, France winger Kingsley Coman was outstanding and set up three of Bayern’s five goals with pin-point crosses.

“It was a great match, we can be very happy with the result,” beamed the on-loan Juventus forward who will again be facing his parent club at the Allianz Arena.

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There were some more plus points for Guardiola.

Thiago scored his first goals since February 2014 and Germany’s World Cup winner Mario Gotze started his first league game since October. “I’m just pleased to be back and that I can play free of injury,” said Gotze. “I need to start off slowly and find my rhythm again.” 

Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2016.

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