Guardiola: These have been the toughest months of my career

The Spaniard is on the verge of winning back-to-back Bundesliga titles but he is under pressure to bring the Champions League back to the Allianz Arena

Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola has described the last few months as the toughest of his career to date.

The Catalan is widely regarded as one of the most innovative tacticians in the game today, with his Barcelona side winning 14 trophies during his four-year stint in charge at Camp Nou between 2008 and 2012 with their short passing style.

Guardiola subsequently took a year’s sabbatical before taking charge of Bayern in 2013, and immediately led the Bavarians to a domestic double in his first season at the helm.

However, with Bayern having suffered a shocking 5-0 aggregate loss to Real Madrid in the semi-finals of last year’s Champions League, the former Spain international is now under pressure to win the European Cup, as well as the Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal.

Guardiola has now admitted he has been feeling the heat ahead of Tuesday’s clash with Porto, who lead 3-1 after last week’s first leg at the Dragao.

“The last few months have been the most challenging of my managerial career – I have learned a lot about the passion of football,” the 44-year-old trainer told reporters on the eve of the decisive Champions League quarter-final showdown.

“March and April are the deciding months of the season and it’s the same for Porto, Juventus and every team.

“After the last few months of work, I can promise you we will give it a go against Porto. We have one more step to defend our Bundesliga title and tomorrow we’re one step away from a Champions League semi-final.

“I am completely convinced that they will take their chances tomorrow, and for me as the manager, that is enough.

“My players are my heroes and they will stay in my heart for the rest of my life.”

Guardiola also dismissed the suggestion that he had underestimated Julen Lopetegui’s side ahead of their trip to the Dragao.

“I was not surprised at Porto’s performance,” the former midfield ace stated. “They are an excellent club with excellent players. 

“But in 90 minutes everything is possible. Of course we’re behind but tomorrow is about performing on the pitch.”

Meanwhile, Guardiola revealed that Bastian Schweinsteiger has recovered from illness and is set to line out in midfield against Porto. 

However, he remains pessimistic about Franck Ribery’s hopes of playing any part, with the French winger still struggling with an ankle problem.

“Bastian can train with the team again today, so that’s good news for us,” he added. “But I don’t think that Franck can play.”

Lahm: I'm fit to face Porto

The World Cup winner missed Saturday’s Bundesliga triumph at Hoffenheim with gastroenteritis but has made a swift recovery

Philipp Lahm has revealed he is fit and ready to lead Bayern Munich in their Champions League quarter-final, second-leg clash with Porto.

The former Germany international played in last week’s 3-1 loss at the Dragao but was then forced to sit out Saturday’s Bundesliga win at Hoffenheim after being struck down by gastroenteritis.

However, Lahm, speaking on the eve of the pivotal return clash at the Allianz, has revealed he is ready to play his part in what he believes will be a successful bid to overturn a two-goal deficit.

“I am fine and I will play,” the versatile midfielder told reporters. “The game is important and I am fit to play it. 

“It will not be easy for us, but we have our fans with us and we will fight till the end. 

“We will do everything to go through but an early goal would be perfect.

“We want to control the game – that is our style of play. We need a good balance in all our team, not just in the defence.

“We are a very good team and we have proven our quality several times in the last few years. 

“It is vital that we stay calm. We have 90 minutes to score our goals. 

“I am very confident and I am sure that we will go to the semi-finals.”

Lahm denied, though, that Bayern had been over confident heading into their first meeting with a Porto side that are yet to be beaten in this season’s Champions League.

“We did not underestimate Porto before the first leg,” the World Cup winner added. “But unfortunately Porto went 2–0 up very quickly.”

Bayern also expect to have Bastian Schweinsteiger available after recovering from an ankle knock, but Franck Ribery remains a doubt because of a similar issue.

Bayern Munich – Porto Preview: Neuer labels game 'biggest of the season'

Pep Guardiola’s side were stunned 3-1 in the first leg and, with a host of star names still missing from injury, face another tough examination on Tuesday

Bayern Munich face a huge uphill struggle in their Champions League quarter-final as they chase Porto’s two-goal lead, with Manuel Neuer calling the second leg the “biggest game” of their season.

Pep Guardiola’s injury-hit Bayern struggled immensely in Portugal, falling 2-0 down within the first 10 minutes thanks to a Ricardo Quaresma double, and eventually lost 3-1.

The Bundesliga pacesetters are now facing the possibility of missing out on a fourth successive Champions League semi-final appearance and history will not provide much inspiration.

The Bavarian giants have chased a two-goal first-leg deficit four times in competition and lost every single tie.

“We know it’s the biggest game of the season,” Neuer said. “Every one of us will do everything we can to make it a good performance.”

And Guardiola echoed his goalkeeper’s sentiments, saying: “It’s a final. We need a great performance. 

“It’ll be tough, but we’ll give it a go. I have lots of faith in my players.”

Despite a lengthy injury list – including the likes of Franck Ribery, David Alaba and Arjen Robben – Bayern warmed up for Tuesday’s clash with a 2-0 triumph at Hoffenheim on Sunday, edging closer to a 25th Bundesliga title.

Bayern can take solace from their home form in this year’s competition, emerging victorious in all four of their outings at the Allianz Arena and scoring 13 goals in the process.

Bastian Schweinsteiger may be able to feature, but Bayern’s list of absentees still looks set to cause havoc with Guardiola’s team selection.

Bayern will continue to be without Robben (abdominal muscle), Ribery (ankle), Tom Starke (ankle), Mehdi Benatia (thigh) and Javi Martinez (knee), while Jerome Boateng, Juan Bernat, Philipp Lahm and Neuer are just a booking away from a suspension.

Porto are under no illusions as to the pressure they are likely to come under in Munich, however, with Yacine Brahimi expecting Bayern to ask serious questions of Julen Lopetegui’s defence regardless of their depleted numbers.  

“It was an exceptional display [in Porto],” he said. “We couldn’t have dreamed of a better result than 3-1, but we’ve still got an away game to play and it will be very, very difficult.

“Over there we need to play the way we did [in the first leg] – that is to play our game and play normally. We’ll have to defend very well and be strong as a team.”

Porto’s chances of reaching a first Champions League semi since their triumphant 2003-04 campaign  will not be helped by suspensions for full-backs Danilo and Alex Sandro, while Cristian Tello missed Saturday’s 1-0 defeat of Academica with a thigh problem.

Guardiola: Schweinsteiger could face Porto but Ribery doubtful

The Germany international has recovered from a bout of the flu but the Frenchman has yet to fully shake off an ankle problem

Pep Guardiola has revealed that while Bastian Schweinsteiger could be fit for Bayern Munich’s must-win meeting with Porto on Tuesday, Franck Ribery is unlikely to be available for the game at the Allianz Arena.

The injury-ravaged Bavarians trail 3-1 on aggregate going into the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final and will definitely be without Arjen Robben, David Alaba, Mehdi Benatia and Javi Martinez, while Philipp Lahm is a major doubt after being struck down by gastroenteritis.

Schweinsteiger, though, is under consideration after shaking off an ankle injury and then recovering from a bout of the flu.

“Basti could play,” Guardiola is quoted as saying by Bayern’s official website. “He’s in good health again.”

As for ankle injury victim Ribery, Guardiola was far more cautious, adding: “Let’s wait and see. But I don’t think Franck can play.”

There was better news regarding Juan Bernat, who was forced off at half-time in Saturday’s Bundesliga win at Hoffenheim, with Guardiola explaining that the full-back’s withdrawal was purely precautionary.

“We didn’t want to take any risks,” the Catalan said. “I think he can play on Tuesday.”

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Guardiola delighted with Bayern reaction to Porto defeat

The coach was delighted with the way his players bounced back from Champions League defeat to Porto by seeing off Hoffenheim to take them a step closer to the Bundesliga title

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola says he is proud of the way his side bounced back from their Champions League disappointment to see off Hoffenheim 2-0 at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena on Saturday.

The reigning German champions suffered a shock 3-1 reverse to Porto on Wednesday, leaving them facing a tough return leg to secure a European semi-final.

And Guardiola says his injury-ravaged side had to battle fatigue in the second half as they claimed their ninth victory in their last ten league outings.

“We played in the first half, showing great control,” Guardiola said.

“The second half was very complicated, our legs were tired. I am very proud of my players. Now next Tuesday we have a very important game in the Champions League. Of course it will be hard, but that’s a big goal for us.”

Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Javi Martinez and Mehdi Benatia were once again amongst a long list of high profile absentees as Bayern struggle to deal with a long list of injuries, but Guardiola was delighted with the impact of man-of-the-match Sebastian Rode.

The 24-year-old opened the scoring and no Bayern player ran more than his 12.1 kilometres. He played 87 passes, with an accuracy of 93%, and only Rafinha (139) bettered his total of 109 touches.

“For me it has been a huge amount of fun,” Rode said.

“I played from the start and scored a goal – which is of course twice as nice. Most important are the three points and the good feeling for Tuesday.”

Philipp Lahm sat out after suffering a stomach bug while Guardiola rested Jerome Boateng, Xabi Alonso and Thiago.

The victory leaves Bayern 13 points clear of second-placed Wolfsburg, who host Schalke on Sunday.