Bayern Munich defensive crisis leaves Guardiola concerned

Javi Martinez, Jerome Boateng and Medhi Benatia are all at least a matter of weeks away from match fitness, leaving Joshua Kimmich required to fill in at the back

Pep Guardiola has revealed concerns over the state of his Bayern Munich back line, despite watching his side beat Hoffenheim 2-0 to re-open an eight-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga.

Two goals from Robert Lewandowski saw off the struggling visitors at the Allianz Arena, as Bayern maintained their 100 per cent home record for 2015-16, but afterwards Guardiola’s main focus was the number of casualties among his defensive options.

Javi Martinez, Jerome Boateng and Medhi Benatia are all injured and the former Barcelona boss is troubled by the situation.

“Of course we have a problem. We have only a real centre-back in Holger Badstuber,” he told reporters.

“Medhi Benatia needs two to three weeks until he is fully fit. Jerome Boateng is longer, Javi Martinez not quite as long.

“Joshua Kimmich showed today that he can play as a defender. He is fast and heads the ball well.”

Guardiola joked that goalkeeper Manuel Neuer could also slot into his defence if necessary but the Spaniard was thrilled by the performance of his fit players as they secured a sixth straight victory in all competitions.

Once again, huge credit to my team. The players were superb,” he said. “I am very pleased with Arjen [Robben]. He is finally back.”

Lewandowski: I think Guardiola has decided his next team

The striker feels his coach will be well prepared for his next destination and backed him to improve the side regardless of who he takes over

Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski believes Pep Guardiola has already decided which Premier League team he will join next season.

The Spaniard has confirmed he will leave the Bavarian side at the end of the season, but his next destination is yet to be revealed.

Goal reported at the beginning of January that, barring any major obstacles, Guardiola has agreed to take over at Manchester City, but Manchester United and Chelsea are also said to be interested in hiring him.

Lewandowski has backed his boss to bring a new and improved style to whichever English team he chooses to manage, insisting that he will be prepared for the difference to the Spanish and German leagues in which he has already succeeded.

“I know Pep can improve a team in England,” Lewandowski told The Daily Mail. “I think he knows where he’s going and he knows what he needs to do with the team he’s going to so that they play much better.

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“He will focus on technique and perhaps more possession than is the norm in England. But Pep knows the Premier League is different from the Spanish league or the Bundesliga and I’m sure he can do something new in terms of tactics and technique.”

While Lewandowski has admitted he was sad to hear of Pep’s upcoming exit, he has put the feelings behind him in order to finish the season strongly, as Bayern chase a domestic and European treble.

“The first time I heard Pep’s decision I thought it was a shame,” the Pole added. “But after that, I knew I’d to come here to train and play and I’m sure we’ll carry on in the same direction with Pep right to the end of the season.

“It’s important for me to have a good second half of the season. And if we do win something then we will celebrate with Pep.”

Lewandowski: Bayern exit possible

The Poland international refused to rule out a move away from the Bavarian giants, amid reported interest from Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain

Robert Lewandowski says he may not see out his career with Bayern Munich, acknowledging the possibility of an exit amid links with Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.

The Poland international has been a reported target for both Madrid and PSG in recent weeks following Bayern president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge’s admission that Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain was of interest to them. 

Lewandowski’s contract runs until 2019 and, when asked if he felt he would end his career at Bayern, the 27-year-old told Die Welt am Sonntag: “As a professional footballer, it’s hard to say.

“Many times I have heard players say such a thing and then in comes another coach and they are no longer in such high demand. Or they get a very interesting offer.

GOALREAD MORE  | Guardiola denies Bayern mutiny

“In any case, I feel very well at Bayern and will always give everything for the team while I’m here. I focus exclusively on Bayern.

“Ever since I was 18, there have been enquiries and rumors and even then I learned to deal with it. I can shut it out, it does not distract me.

“It has become normal, but it does not interest me.”

Pep Guardiola brought Lewandowski to the Allianz Arena in 2014, with the Pole furthering his reputation as one of the best out-and-out strikers in the world.

The Spaniard will leave Bayern at the end of the season and will be replaced by Carlo Ancelotti, with the change of coach sparking speculation over Lewandowski’s future.

However, the former Borussia Dortmund man remains focused on ending the season strongly.

“Guardiola’s exit is a long way off,” he added. “We now all know that Pep will leave the club in the summer but, until then, we are a unit.

“And we want to celebrate another title with him at the end of the season. That’s why I am fully concentrated on this season.

“Under Pep I always learned something new, especially in terms of tactics.”

Bayern Munich v Hoffenheim: Guardiola confident champions can cope without Boateng

Pep Guardiola believes Bayern Munich have enough alternatives to the injured Jerome Boateng as they prepare to host Hoffenheim.

Pep Guardiola is confident Bayern Munich have what it takes to cope with the absence of Jerome Boateng when they take on Hoffenheim at the weekend.

The Germany international sustained a ruptured groin muscle in Bayern’s 2-1 win over Hamburg last week and faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines as a result.

Boateng’s injury leaves Guardiola with a selection headache at the back, but the former Barcelona boss believes he has a number of adequate alternatives.

“We will miss Boateng, but other players will fill the void,” Guardiola said at a news conference. 

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“We have [Medhi] Benatia, [David] Alaba, [Javi] Martinez, Rafinha, there are plenty of options. Martinez and Benatia have qualities that Boateng doesn’t have. But of course, there are some worries.

“We did everything we could to prevent Jerome’s injury, but that was impossible.

“Hoffenheim are a team that always create a lot of chances. Our tactic depends on the players I have available. I wouldn’t say there’s some sort of tactical revolution coming up.

“It is hard to win the treble, but the players have been doing great so far.”

Bayern have every reason to feel confident ahead of Sunday’s encounter at the Allianz Arena, having not lost any of their last 15 league games against Hoffenheim (winning 11 and drawing the remaining four). No other top-flight pairing has seen a club go winless against another more than nine times in a row.

Apart from Boateng, Bayern are still without Mario Gotze as the attacking midfielder continues his recovery from a hamstring injury, while Franck Ribery is also likely to miss out due to muscular problems.

Hoffenheim, meanwhile, will be aware of the uphill task at hand, but can draw confidence from last week’s 1-1 draw with Bayer Leverkusen. 

They remain 17th in the Bundesliga table, though, and desperately need a good result in order to stay in touch with 15th-placed Stuttgart and 16th-placed Werder Bremen, both four points ahead on 18 points.

However, TSG’s recent form against Bayern provides cause for concern. Hoffenheim have picked up just one point from their last seven visits to the Allianz Arena (3-3 in March 2014), while they suffered their heaviest Bundesliga loss in Munich in March 2012 (7-1).

They came close to springing a surprise in the reverse fixture back in August, but a late Robert Lewandowski strike eventually saw them beaten 2-1.

Key Opta stats:

– Guardiola’s side have won their last 15 games at home in all competitions, the club’s longest run since 2013 (18 between March and November).
– Kevin Volland netted after just nine seconds of FCB’s 2-1 win over TSG before Christmas, holding a league record alongside Karim Bellarabi (August 2014).
– Bayern have seen out each of their 16 leads in the Bundesliga this term (league high).
– Hoffenheim have recorded the fewest wins this term (two) and surrendered the most points from winning positions (17) in the top flight.
– Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski has squandered almost as many chances this term (23) as the whole of the TSG team combined (25 – only three sides have wasted fewer).
– Thomas Muller and Lewandowski have both been involved in 18 goals this season, while Hoffenheim as a whole have netted just 18 goals in 2015/16 – a negative club record.