Saturday, March 25, 2017

Guardiola talks up Germany centre-half – but it´s not Mats Hummels

SoccerNews in Bundesliga 29 Apr 2016

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Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola was eager to talk up a Germany international centre-half on Friday – but it was not Mats Hummels.

Guardiola had little interest in discussing Bayern’s apparent interest in Hummels, the Borussia Dortmund captain who has told the Westphalian club of his desire to rejoin the Bavarians before his contract at Signal Iduna Park expires in 2017.

“Not a question for me, sorry,” was the response to a query on the issue put to Guardiola, who will leave Bayern at the end of the season to join Manchester City.

The former Barcelona coach was more forthcoming when asked about Jerome Boateng, however.

Boateng is closing in on a return to full fitness after being absent since January due to a groin complaint.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s home game with Borussia Monchengladbach, where a win would guarantee Bayern a record fourth successive Bundesliga title, Guardiola said: “If he is fit he is one of the best three central defenders. And if he is fit, he plays. No player is better than Jerome.”

With the domestic title almost secure, Guardiola may opt to hold Boateng back for Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final, second leg at home to Atletico Madrid.

“I hope he can play tomorrow,” he added. “But he will be ready for Tuesday.

“I also hope for Carlo Ancelotti that he remains healthy next season.”

Bayern go into the return against Atletico 1-0 down and with Guardiola under scrutiny after leaving Thomas Muller out of the starting XI at the Vicente Calderon.

The Spaniard said: “The reason was purely tactical. I just wanted to play with one striker.

“My experience of playing with two centre-forwards is not good. I wanted more control, but I love playing with Thomas Muller.

“In Lisbon, Robert Lewandowski sat out but we won. Then it was not an issue.

“In the end, I have to make a decision. It’s not over yet, we still have a chance. [If it goes wrong] then you can kill me!”

Guardiola’s immediate focus is on a Monchengladbach side he rates highly.

“Our thoughts are only on Gladbach,” he added. “They have a lot of quality. Alongside Dortmund they are perhaps the team in the Bundesliga with the most quality.

“They have good players, a good coach and a good sporting philosophy.

“We are not yet champions, but I hope the fans can celebrate tomorrow.”

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