Gullit: Guardiola hunger could be difference in Champions League

The former Barcelona man will be leaving for England in the close-season, leaving this campaign as his final chance to lift the trophy with the Bavarian giants

Ruud Gullit says Pep Guardiola’s determination to win the Champions League with Bayern Munich could be the difference as Europe’s landmark club competition comes to an end.

Bayern take on Atletico Madrid – who beat reigning champions Barcelona in the quarter-finals – in the semi-finals, with Manchester City playing Real Madrid in the other tie.

Gullit said all four teams deserved to be in the final four, but told Omnisport that he expected the final to be contested by Madrid and Bayern.

“I think they want Real Madrid and Bayern in the final – that would be a great final,” Gullit said.

“It’s a great thing for Manchester City that they are there, they have struggled in the Champions League for a long, long time, with the team and the money that they’ve spent.

“Atletico is a difficult team to beat, but I think the final could be Bayern against Real Madrid.”

GOALREAD MORE  | Lewy ready to contribute on all fronts

Gullit said Guardiola would be desperate to win the Champions League with Bayern, with little else to achieve at the club before he leaves for City.

The Dutchman said City would benefit from that hunger next season.

“It could be the same scenario when he came to Bayern Munich [in that] he’s going to a team that [is desperate to] win the Champions League, that would be tough,” Gullit said.

“The only thing City want is winning that.

“The reason he had to go to Bayern Munich was to win the Champions League, because Bayern Munich win the league anyway.”

Dortmund match Bayern but Bundesliga title could be clinched next weekend

It was a case of ‘anything you can do….’ this weekend in the Bundesliga, with both Bayern and their nearest rivals, Borussia Dortmund, coasting to 3-0 home victories. The identical results maintained Bayern’s seven-point lead at the top of the table and, with only four games left, it is possible for Pep Guardiola’s team to clinch yet another title next weekend when they travel to Hertha Berlin.








Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund” (CC BY 2.0) by  wuestenigel 

Dortmund recovered from their shattering UEFA Europa League defeat to Liverpool with a comfortable win over Hamburg at Westfalenstadion. Two goals from Adrian Ramos paved the way to a confidence-restoring victory for second-placed Dortmund, with a first Bundesliga goal for Christian Pulisic sandwiched between the Colombian forward’s double strikes. Coach Thomas Tuchel was helped in his quest to close the gap on Bayern by a red card for Hamburg’s goalkeeper, Rene Adler, on 52 minutes, although the hosts were already 2-0 up by this point.

Of course, Bayern had extended their lead at the top of the table to ten points with a 3-0 victory over Schalke on Saturday, with Robert Lewandowski taking his season’s tally to 27 league goals with a brace at the Allianz Arena. But Dortmund responded on Sunday to set up a pivotal round of games next weekend, which could see the Bundesliga title decided.

Undoubtedly Bayern face the tougher prospect this weekend, and both teams also play a German Cup game in midweek, but there are some interesting odds at if you fancy Bayern’s chances of clinching the title again with three games remaining.

Thursday had seen Dortmund twice relinquish a two-goal aggregate lead in the Europa League tie at Anfield, to be beaten by Liverpool at the death with an injury-time Dejan Lovren header. Meanwhile, Bayern prevailed in a similarly nail-biting UEFA Champions League clash with Benfica, winning 3-2 on aggregate to secure a semi-final date with Atletico Madrid.

But if anyone thought that Dortmund would be psychologically damaged by their devastating collapse at Anfield, they had underestimated the steely resolve which has ensured they have remained the only serious challenger to Bayern in a Bundesliga campaign that has been a two-horse race for much of the season.

Dortmund sit a full 20 points ahead of third-placed Bayer Leverkusen, but their efforts in keeping in touch with Bayern in top spot could come to nothing on Saturday if they drop points and Bayern win.

Relegation-threatened Stuttgart – sat precariously above the drop zone in 15th place – welcome Dortmund on Saturday, while Bayern visit Hertha Berlin, who currently occupy fourth place and the final Champions League spot. It would seem Dortmund face the easier prospect, but certainly if they draw and Bayern win, the points difference will be nine points with three games remaining and the title will be all but decided, barring a monumental collapse in Bayern’s form and a considerable swing in goal difference. If Dortmund lose and Bayern collect maximum points in Berlin, they will be crowned Bundesliga champions once again.

Boateng may miss Atletico Madrid tie, admits Guardiola

The centre-back is expected to return to training this week, having been out of action since January, but the coach feels the Champions League semi-final may come too soon for him

Pep Guardiola expects Jerome Boateng to return to training with Bayern Munich this week, but says he cannot guarantee he will be fit for the Champions League semi-finals.

The centre-back has been out of action since January after suffering adductor damage in the 2-1 Bundesliga win over Hamburg.

Boateng said last month that he hoped to be back in action by mid-April, thereby giving him plenty of time to build up fitness before the first leg with Atletico Madrid on April 27.

Guardiola, however, could not offer any assurances over the Germany international’s return, telling a news conference on Monday: “Jerome can maybe train with the team on Monday or Tuesday.

“He was injured for three months, so whether he’ll be fit for the Champions League semi-final, I don’t know.”

Bayern face Werder Bremen in the DFB-Pokal semi-final on Tuesday, looking to reach a fourth final in five years and keep their hopes of the treble alive.

GOALREAD MORE  | Guardiola shuts down talk of Gundogan to Man City

Borussia Dortmund could lie in wait should they defeat Hertha Berlin on Wednesday, but Guardiola has warned of the danger of looking too far ahead.

“I want to reach the final. Both Bremen and Berlin also deserve to get there. What would the coach of Berlin think if I wanted a final against Thomas Tuchel? I just want to get there,” he said.

“A semi-final is always difficult. They have players like Zlatko Junuzovic, or Claudio Pizarro. It would be a big mistake to think we are already in Berlin. We have to win first.

“We had problems in the first half against Schalke on Saturday, but if we play as we did in the second, then we have a good chance of reaching the final.

“I’ve always rotated in my career. I like rotation. But I’m not thinking about the game with Atletico Madrid or Berlin on Saturday. Bremen is the only thing in my head.”

Arturo Vidal scored one and set up another in the 3-0 victory over Schalke which maintained Bayern’s seven-point advantage at the top of the table, and Guardiola admits he has been delighted with his recent form.

“Arturo has played very, very well lately,” he said of the Chile international, who scored in both legs of the Champions League quarter-final against Benfica.

“He is really important for the team. He has a great personality, a great mentality. This is a very good quality of his.”

'These are most difficult years of my career' – Benatia infuriated by 'invented stories'

The defender has grown frustrated by the constant speculation surrounding his future and admits he will leave Bayern Munich if they want to sell him at the end of the season

Medhi Benatia says injuries and frustration over what he describes as “invented stories” have made the last two seasons the toughest spell of his career.

The Bayern Munich defender, 29, has only started 21 Bundesliga matches since the start of the 2014-15 season – when he joined from Roma in a €26 million deal – due to regular fitness setbacks.

Benatia was left out of the second leg of Bayern’s Champions League quarter-final against Benfica having only recently returned from a thigh injury and was forced to deny claims that he did not travel because he had forgotten his passport.

The centre-back – who made his first appearance for a month in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Schalke – has already rejected reports that he wants to depart when Carlo Ancelotti becomes head coach to replace Pep Guardiola next season.

GOALREAD MORE  | Pep: Bayern don’t have a Messi or Ronaldo

“Here in Munich I have experienced the two most difficult years in my career,” Benatia told Kicker.

“I don’t wish what has happened to me on anyone. I want to be part of the team. The coach trusts you, but you are always injured and this isn’t easy. I can’t explain why I am injured that often.

“The people invent a new story about me every week. This makes me tired as I have three years contract left in Munich. If Bayern want me to leave – no problem. If they want me to stay – I will stay. 

“The club know that I am fully professional. There is no problem with me. Last year I could have gone to some big clubs in Italy, but Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said: ‘You stay, I need you’, so I stayed and I am happy to be here.”

Guardiola: Bayern don't have a player like Messi or Ronaldo

The Catalan reminded his side they lack the individual brilliance within to win a game without total commitment following their victory over Schalke

Pep Guardiola has bemoaned Bayern Munich lack of a superstar in the mould of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, and warned the team cannot afford to take their foot off the pedal.

Robert Lewandowski scored twice with Arturo Vidal also on target as a fine second-half show saw off Schalke 3-0 for the Bundesliga champions-elect on Saturday.

But Guardiola was left far from impressed by a laboured performance from his side overall.

GOALREAD MORE  | Lewandowski ready to contribute on all fronts

And the Catalan stated that die Roten cannot delude themselves into thinking they pack the individual brilliance necessary to single-handedly win them games on off-days.

“I am not satisfied with our game. In the first half we were not on the pitch. I’m sorry for our fans! You come to see 90 minutes full throttle,” Guardiola told reporters.

“We have no player who scores 50, 60 goals like Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi.

“It is about the attitude to run and run. The difference between the first and the second half was very big.”