Moyes: Manchester United can exploit Bayern Munich weaknesses

The Scot admits his side have a tough draw against the reigning champions but says he has seen a few things which he hopes his players can capitalise on

Manchester United manager David Moyes says he has identified some weaknesses in Bayern Munich’s game and will try to exploit them when the two teams meet in the Champions League quarter-finals.
The Red Devils were drawn against the reigning European champions in Friday’s draw having overcome Olympiakos to reach the last eight of the competition, a result which eased mounting pressure on Moyes.

Bayern are currently 23 points clear of their nearest Bundesliga challengers and are unbeaten in 50 league matches, but Moyes is optimistic his struggling side can upset the odds.

“I’ve got a few things that I’ve seen that I would try to work on and capitalise on,” he told reporters.

“They are the holders. But I don’t think the holders have ever won it twice. Hopefully we can try to do something about that.

“It’s a really big game but the big thing is being in the quarter-final draw because on Tuesday most people were thinking we wouldn’t be in the draw coming from 2-0 down.

“So yes, we have a tough draw but we are still in there and we are still fighting.”

United famously beat Bayern in the final of the competition in 1999 with two stoppage-time goals to seal a historic treble, but were knocked out of the tournament on away goals by the German side in 2010 after a 4-4 aggregate draw.

And Moyes is expecting another titanic battle and says he is looking forward to the clash.

“There have been some epic games between the two clubs over the years and if I can get another epic game then that will mean we have come close,” he added.

“That has got to be the idea. The draw is what it is and we take it and the big thing was we were in that draw to play against whoever came in.

“When the draw came out I would have said it’s the draw everybody wanted. Bayern maybe were the favourites, Real may be the favourites at this present time.

“Ideally you would try to avoid them if you can. I am looking forward to it because it’s two really great teams in a big game.”

Following in the footsteps of Suarez – new Ajax wonderkid Zivkovic set for stardom

The 17-year-old is the latest player to have made a name for himself at Groningen and seems destined for greatness as he prepares to join the Eredivisie champions

By Stefan Coerts

When the shortlist for the 2013 Fifa Ballon d’Or was announced back in October, not many people will have realised that four out of the 23 nominees played in the Eredivisie at some stage of their career. Even fewer people, however, will have known that two of those four – Arjen Robben and Luis Suarez – kickstarted their European career at Dutch minnows Groningen.

The Euroborg side might not be one of European football’s household names but some of their ex-players certainly are. Former Netherlands internationals such as Ronald Koeman, Erwin Koeman and Adri van Tiggelen – who were all part of the squad that won Euro 1988 – wore the Groningen jersey at some point, while superstars including Robben and Suarez also made headlines at De Trots van het Noorden before moving to greener pastures.

It’s therefore no surprise that Europe’s finest regularly send scouts to the Eredivisie outfit to keep tabs on the club’s latest prodigies and young attacker Richairo Zivkovic in particular has caught the eye in the past 18 months.

Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City, Liverpool and Ajax have all been in attendance at the Euroborg this season to see the 17-year-old live in action and the striker has not let his admirers down with some fine performances.

Going for goal | Zivkovic has already netted six times in 816 minutes

The striker of Serbian heritage made his official first team debut at the tender age of 16 years and 88 days, before erasing Robben’s name from the record books last August when he found the net against NEC to become the youngest goalscorer in Groningen’s history.

This feat quickly saw him dubbed ‘the new Robben’ but it would be wrong to compare Zivkovic to his illustrious compatriot. Whereas the Bayern Munich star is one of the best wingers around in the game, the Netherlands Under-19 star is much more of a traditional striker.

He might have scored ‘only’ six times in 23 Eredivisie games this term, but one should bear in mind that the majority of those appearances came off the bench while playing for a modest club that sit 10th in the league table. More important than his stats is the fact that Zivkovic is clearly blessed with talent in abundance.

The youngster has a positional sense somewhat reminiscent of former Netherlands international Roy Makaay, which often sees him escape the attention of his direct marker and pop up in dangerous positions. He has pace to burn, is not afraid to take on opposing defenders and is remarkably direct as his first instinct is always to go for goal. 

Of course, at the tender age of 17, Zivkovic is not the finished product just yet. His decision-making is not at the required level at this stage of his career and he occasionally gets overconfident in possession, too. 

These imperfections did not stop Ajax from securing the services of the Groningen wonderkid, however, as they announced earlier this week that Zivkovic has signed a three-year contract at the Amsterdam ArenA in a deal believed to be worth €2.5 million. 

The striker might not break into the starting XI with the Eredivisie champions right away, but head coach Frank de Boer has already made it clear that he is a keen admirer of Zivkovic and there’s little doubt that he will get his chances in 2014-15.  

“Zivkovic is a very talented player. He is still only 17 and has all the qualities to become a great striker. I think he can take the next step in his career at Ajax, working with someone like Dennis Bergkamp among others,” De Boer said of the young attacker. 

With the Arsenal legend as his mentor next season, Zivkovic is in good hands and Ajax will be hopeful that they have a top-class No.9 in their ranks again at last.

Since the departure of Suarez in January 2011, not a single Ajax player has hit the 15-goal mark in the Eredivisie, with the side reliant on the impressive scoring feats of midfielder Siem de Jong far too often. But Zivkovic might very well be the next former Groningen star to shine for the Godenzonen.

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Guardiola not celebrating Bundesliga title yet

The Bavarian giants could secure the league title this weekend if they beat Mainz and Borussia Dortmund slip up but the Spanish coach insists Mainz are no easy foe

Pep Guardiola is refusing to get ahead of himself as Bayern Munich close in on a 23rd Bundesliga title.

The Allianz Arena outfit visit Mainz on Saturday knowing victory – combined with slip-ups from Borussia Dortmund and Schalke – would be enough to see them win the league with eight games to spare.

However, despite holding a staggering 23-point lead at the top, Guardiola insists he is not celebrating just yet.

“Let me win the Bundesliga title first and then I’ll tell you what it’s like to win it,” the Bayern coach said. “It’s strange to have such a big lead in the table, it’s not normal. But we’ve won a lot of games.”

And the Spaniard insisted that overcoming in-form Mainz was far from a foregone conclusion.

“They’ve only lost one of their last 11 Bundesliga games,” he stressed. “They have a good team, we know that.”

Guardiola also expressed his delight that Arjen Robben had put pen to paper on a new deal, but revealed Thiago Alcantra may miss the weekend fixture after acquiring a thigh injury.

“I’m delighted Arjen Robben extended his contract because he’s an outstanding player,” he added. “He’s so focused and he lives for football.

“I don’t think Thiago Alcantara will play, he might stay in Munich. He picked up a knock on his thigh, but it’s not serious.”

Kroos refusing to underestimate Man United

The midfielder has warned his team-mates to be wary of a revival from the Old Trafford club after being paired with the Premier League champions in Friday’s Champions League draw

Toni Kroos has urged Bayern Munich not to judge Manchester United by their current position in the Premier League table.

Pep Guardiola’s side will face the reigning English champions in the quarter-finals of the Champions League following Friday’s draw in Nyon, with the Bavarians sure to be favourites ahead of the tie.

United have endured a torrid campaign to date in David Moyes’s first campaign in charge since taking over from Sir Alex Ferguson. They sit seventh in the league, while they required a stirring comeback to defeat Olympiakos 3-0 (Agg 3-2) to reach the last eight in Europe.

In contrast, Champions League holders Bayern have made a seamless transition to life after Jupp Heynckes and Guardiola’s men could lift the Bundesliga title as early as this weekend if they win and other results go in their favour.

But Kroos – who has been regularly linked with a move to Old Trafford this summer – with his contract set to expire in the summer of 2014 – will not be taking the tie lightly.

He said on his official Facebook page: “A very interesting draw for us! We shouldn’t measure Man U by their current position in the English table.”

Bayern and United have considerable history when it comes to the Champions League, with United defeating the Bundesliga champions 2-1 in the famous 1999 final.

However, it was the Bavarians who came out on top in the most recent encounter between the two sides after a 4-4 aggregate draw in the 2010 quarter-finals, with FCB going through on away goals.

The first leg of the last eight tie will be played one April 1 or 2, with the return leg scheduled for April 8 or 9.

United tie a 'great draw', says Bayern Munich ace Robben

The Dutchman was in bullish mood after the reigning European champions were drawn against the struggling Red Devils – but says David Moyes’ men remain a “very good team”

Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben believes being paired with Manchester United in the Champions League quarter-finals represents a “great draw” for the holders.

The runaway Bundesliga leaders visit Old Trafford in the first leg on April 1 before the return at the Allianz Arena a week later.

Robben, who scored the winner in last season’s final victory over Borussia Dortmund at Wembley, was in a confident mood after learning of Bayern’s next assignment.

“It is a great draw,” he told Sky Sports News. “I look forward to these matches.

“We play away from home in the first leg. That is an advantage. 

“Manchester is not in the best shape. But it still is a very good team.”

Bayern skipper Philipp Lahm was more circumspect and insisted they will not be fooled by United’s domestic struggles when they face David Moyes’ side.

United are languishing in seventh place in the Premier League in what has been a difficult season but Lahm is still expecting a tough tie. 

The Germany full-back said: “We should not be blinded by the standings in England. We have to perform well in both matches. Then we’ll have a good chance to progress to the semi-finals.

“We are the holders and we are the favorites in these kind of matches.”