Thursday, March 23, 2017

Guardiola has no sympathy for weakened Benfica

SoccerNews in UEFA Champions League 12 Apr 2016

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Benfica will be without key players for the visit of Bayern Munich in the Champions League, but Pep Guardiola has claimed the Portuguese club’s issues compare favourably to the fitness problems his team have endured this season.

The hosts will be missing striker Jonas through suspension at Estadio da Luz, while playmaker Nicolas Gaitan and centre-back Lisandro Lopez are in doubt for the quarter-final second leg. Another defender, Luisao, only returned to the bench last weekend following a lengthy absence with a broken arm.

Guardiola, though, is still missing defenders Jerome Boateng, Holger Badstuber and Mehdi Benatia, as well as forward Arjen Robben.

And the coach, addressing the media before the match in Lisbon, was quick to offer a reminder of those challenges.

“We have had even more problems with players missing games,” he said when quizzed about the impact the loss of Jonas will have on Benfica’s chances.

“We played last month’s important matches without [key] central defenders. When we talk about the situations of the teams, then we have had bigger problems.”

Bayern, perhaps unexpectedly, could only manage to win the first leg 1-0 at home, Arturo Vidal scoring the lone goal at Allianz Arena last week.

Guardiola would claim to be unsurprised by his team’s struggles to break down the Primeira Liga side, having hailed their defence as one of the best in Europe prior to that match.

But the Spaniard now believes he is equipped with the knowledge of how to overcome the Portuguese powerhouse.

“We know Benfica better after the first game,” he said.

“We know what we have to do and how we have to play [to beat them]. We have to defend well and when we have the ball, we have to create chances. If we score a goal, we’ll take a big step towards the semi-finals.”

Bayern fans left underwhelmed by the tight encounter in Munich may be hoping for an improved performance from their team as they aim to reach the last four for the fifth successive season.

Guardiola, though, has just one stipulation for his players.

He added: “I have always said the result is the most important thing. Of course, attitude and mentality too. If you don’t play well, it’s not possible to achieve good results in the Champions League.”

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