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Guardiola: I can handle the pressure of Bayern finale

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola will draw on his experience at Barcelona as he prepares for the final few months of his time with the Bundesliga champions.

Guardiola is to leave Bayern at the end of the season – stating his desire to work in the Premier League – and sees his side begin the second half of their title defence against Hamburg on Friday with an eight-point cushion. 

With Bayern on course to win a fourth straight Bundesliga crown, the remainder of Guardiola’s tenure will be judged on whether he can claim the Champions League and, to a lesser extent, the DFB-Pokal to match the treble of predecessor Jupp Heynckes.

Ottmar Hitzfeld also guided Bayern to European success in 2001 and, amid talk of claiming three pieces of silverware this term, Guardiola said: “I’m okay with that pressure, perfectly fine.

“Maybe we will win the Champions League, but no matter how the season ends Jupp Heynckes and Ottmar Hitzfeld will always be more important for the club than I.

“They are German, they were here longer. I know the pressure from my time in Barcelona and I can deal with it.”

Bayern, who face Juventus in the last 16 of the Champions League, suffered a surprise friendly defeat to Karlsruhe on Saturday in preparation for their trip to Hamburg and will be wary of repeating their losing return to league action from a year ago.

In 2015, Bayern kicked off the Hinrunde with a 4-1 reversal at Wolfsburg and Guardiola acknowledged his side’s current state remains something of an unknown. 

“I do not know at what level my team is playing. We need two or three games until I know that, even after the game in Hamburg I will not know,” he added.

“We have worked on our ability to press. Our style of play is, for example, against Ingolstadt quite different to that against Frankfurt. We must be able to deal with different situations.

“I would prefer it, of course, if both teams wanted to win and it goes back and forth. But every coach has his players with whom he must work.

“I hope the second half of this season will be as good as the second half of last season, but instead with a full squad in the decisive games.”

Guardiola will be without long-term injury absentees Mario Gotze and Franck Ribery, but David Alaba and Arjen Robben are fit.

Thu 21 Jan, 2016
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