Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola has hit back at critics ahead of Tuesday night’s Champions League semi-final clash with Atletico Madrid at the Allianz Arena, claiming that he is unfairly targeted because of his impressive trophy haul.
The former Barcelona manager came under criticism for the manner of his side’s defeat at the Vicente Calderon last week, with pundits quick to attack Guardiola for some of his tactical decisions.
As a two time winner of the Champions League, Guardiola believes his excellent track record is to blame for the added scrutiny he faces in the build-up to tonight’s game.
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“The problem people have with me is that I’ve won so many titles” Guardiola said. "You’ve got to adapt the squad you have and if I had wanted to play the exact same way we did in Spain then I’d have stayed there.”
Guardiola is clearly feeling the heat ahead of a game that looks set to define his three year stint in Munich. Bayern’s domestic dominance, coupled with Jupp Heynckes treble success the year of Guardiola’s appointment, means that anything short of winning the trophy will see the Spaniard’s time in Munich deemed a failure.
But it will not be easy; Bayern enter the game needing to win by two clear goals against an Atletico side that has kept eight clean sheets in 11 Champions League matches this season.
Guardiola is aware that his team have made it difficult for themselves, but refuses to accept personal responsibility for his tactics or team selection, including the unexpected decision to leave Thomas Muller on the bench in the 1-0 first leg defeat last Wednesday.
“We have to interpret how we approach each game and play according to our philosophy. In Madrid we didn’t lose because Muller didn’t start, and his presence is not the only thing that will determine the outcome in this game.
“You’ve got to adapt the squad you have and if I had wanted to play the exact same way we did in Spain then I’d have stayed there.
“It’s a great honour to be in the semi-final but we have to improve our performance if we are going to reach the final in Milan.”
If Bayern fail to progress to the final, it will be Guardiola’s fourth successive Champions League semi-final defeat, and could leave pundits questioning his global reputation before a move to Manchester City this summer.
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