Guardiola: Shakhtar are one of Europe's best

The Bayern boss remembers the tough challenge the Ukraine giants posed his Barcelona side and says Xabi Alonso could be fit to play

Pep Guardiola believes Mircea Lucescu has turned Shakhtar Donetsk into one of Europe’s very best teams as he prepares his Bayern Munich side to face the Ukrainian side.

Shakhtar, who have won the league title in each of the last five years, impressed in the group stages of the Champions League this term and boast the tournament’s top scorer in Luiz Adriano.

Guardiola, who faced the 2009 Uefa Cup winners a number of times as head coach of Barcelona, admits the vastly experienced Lucescu has formed a formidable side in recent years.

“I respect Shakhtar and their coach Mircea Lucescu very much,” he told reporters ahead of Bayern’s clash with Shakhtar in Lviv.

“He is a very smart coach who has created one of the best teams in Europe. I played against Shakhtar five times with Barcelona and although we had a really amazing squad it was always so difficult. You may remember the Uefa Super Cup match when we scored only in extra-time. Once, they defeated us at home in the 2008-09 Champions League.”

Fitness doubts emerged over Xabi Alonso after he was forced to miss the 8-0 hammering of Hamburg at the weekend, and Guardiola says he will wait until the last moment before making a decision on whether to play the Spaniard.

“Xabi Alonso trained well yesterday and today but his fitness is still open to question. We’ll make a decision tomorrow,” he said.

Lucescu: Shakhtar's Brazilians want revenge on Bayern

The veteran coach says a number of his star players want to set the record straight in the Champions League after their nation’s World Cup humiliation at the hands of Germany

Shakhtar Donetsk boss Mircea Lucescu says his side’s Brazilian stars want to avenge the World Cup thrashing by Germany when they take on Bayern Munich.

The host nation were humiliated in the semi-finals of last summer’s tournament by the eventual winners, who triumphed 7-1 en route to lifting the trophy.

Bayern stars Thomas Muller, Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng, Manuel Neuer and Bastian Schweinsteiger all started that victory against Brazil, and Lucescu – who boasts Brazilians including Douglas Costa, Alex Teixeira and Luiz Adriano in his side – says a win for Shakhtar would go some way to laying the World Cup ghosts to rest.

“We have 13 Brazilians who dream of revenge against Bayern’s German players for their national side’s World Cup defeat,” Lucescu told a press conference.

“We will be heroes if we beat them and qualify for the next stage.”

Shakhtar skipper Darijo Srna insists his team-mates will not be overawed at the prospect of facing Pep Guardiola’s charges this week.

“It’s great that we’ll play in Lviv against one of the best teams in the world. We are not afraid,” he said.

“We know a lot about Bayern but I think every football fan in the word knows this team very well. Of course, they are favourites but anything can happen in football.

“We are positive about the upcoming game. We hope to get a good result for our club and for our fans who are in a difficult situation in Eastern Ukraine. This is additional motivation for us.”

Bayern wanted more Dortmund players, reveals Watzke

The Bavarians have signed Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski from BVB in recent years and had their eyes on several of their other star names

Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has claimed Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski are not the only BVB players Bayern Munich attempted to sign from their Bundesliga-winning class of 2012.

BVB beat Bayern to the Bundesliga title both in 2010-11 and 2011-12, while they also hammered the Bavarians 5-2 in the DFB Pokal final in the latter campaign.

However, they have since lost Gotze to their arch rivals in the summer of 2013, with Lewandowski following suit last summer after running down his contract at Signal Iduna Park and departing on a free transfer.

Marco Reus and Ilkay Gundogan have been linked with Bayern in recent years and though Watzke didn’t specify their names, he revealed their rivals would happily have acquired further members of BVB’s squad.

“Bayern tore out two vital parts of BVB with Gotze and Lewandowski and they were not the only two Dortmund players Bayern attempted to sign,” Watzke was quoted as saying by Kicker.

“Bayern wanted to disrupt the successful Dortmund of 2012.

“We have also become a major threat for Bayern because people have a lot of sympathy for us. We don’t divide opinion like Bayern.

“Who is the team that gets more attention and moves people more than any other team after Bayern, even if we are battling against relegation? That’s clearly Borussia Dortmund.

“We are the second major force in Germany behind Bayern. You do not necessarily have to be as huge as Bayern to become a benchmark.”

However, Dortmund’s fortunes have dipped somewhat of late. They had to settle for second spot in the Bundesliga table last term, finishing 19 points behind Pep Guardiola’s men and sit 14th in the table with 22 points from 21 games this season.

Jurgen Klopp’s men did enjoy success off the pitch in February, though, with Marco Reus committing his future to the club by signing a new contract with the club until June 2019.

Shakhtar Donetsk – Bayern Munich Preview: Alonso a doubt for Guardiola's rejuvenated side

The midfielder missed the 8-0 demolition of Hamburg at the weekend but could return for the first leg of the Champions League last 16


Pep Guardiola could hardly have asked for better preparation for Bayern Munich’s Champions League last-16 first leg with Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday.

The Spaniard saw the Bundesliga champions return to top form with Saturday’s 8-0 hammering of Hamburg, claiming his side are now “back in the groove” following a sluggish return after the winter break.

Arjen Robben and Thomas Muller both grabbed doubles at the Allianz Arena to help set Bayern up for their return to European action against a side who have not beaten Bundesliga opposition at home in the Champions League since 1980.

Guardiola could see Xabi Alonso (hamstring) join Philipp Lahm (ankle), Javi Martinez (knee) and Thiago Alcantara (knee) on the sidelines but still has plenty of strength in his squad.

The cause for Mircea Lucescu’s hosts will also likely be made all the more tricky by the fact that they have not played a competitive fixture since December’s 1-1 draw with Porto.

Shakhtar – without suspended midfielder Taras Stepanenko – do not get their domestic title defence back under way until later this month but Luiz Adriano, the Champions League’s leading goalscorer this season with nine, is confident there will be no signs of rustiness from his team-mates.

“[Bayern] are still in a different rhythm of the game. Bayern play matches every three to four days, whereas we played several friendly matches during a month-and-half,” the Brazilian told the club’s official website.

“However, they were not easy and for us it is also a good training session. I can say that the team are now in excellent physical condition.

“We have a few more training sessions left before the game. I think we can come fully prepared to face Bayern.”

Bayern have not found Ukraine a happy hunting ground in recent years, with just one win, one draw and three defeats from their visits to the country.

Lucescu’s side have also been given backing by former player Henrikh Mkhitaryan to cause an upset.

He has witnessed first-hand the quality that Bayern have at their disposal, and the Borussia Dortmund playmaker feels his former club have the capabilities to take a positive result into the second leg in Munich on March 11.

“Every game starts at 0-0. I’m sure that Mircea Lucescu’s team have every chance to beat Bayern,” he told his former club’s website.

“Shakhtar are a great team with decent players. If the Pitmen play the way they are capable of, Bayern will have a lot of problems.”

I feared Bayern would reach double figures, admits traumatised Zinnbauer

The ex-European Cup winners suffered an embarrassing 8-0 defeat at the Allianz Arena, and their coach admitted it could have been even worse

Hamburg boss Josef Zinnbauer has claimed that Saturday’s 8-0 loss at Bayern Munich will haunt him for the rest of his life, revealing that he spent the dying minutes praying that the hosts wouldn’t hit double figures.

The visitors capitulated after Thomas Muller opened the scoring 21 minutes courtesy of a contentious penalty, with Mario Gotze and Arjen Robben adding to the Bavarians’ lead before the break.

The second half was a disaster for Hamburg, as further goals from Robben, Muller, Robert Lewandowski, Franck Ribery and Gotze saw the former European Cup winners suffer one of the most humiliating defeats in their long and proud history.

Zinnbauer was traumatised by the nature of Hamburg’s collapse and admitted afterwards that he was simply grateful that Bayern had not broken through the 10-goal barrier.

“I’ll not forget this day for the rest of my life,” he told reporters after the game. “There’s not a lot to discuss when you’ve lost 8-0. 

“We have to apologise to our fans because 8-0 is unbelievable, although we did meet incredibly strong opponents today. 

“The margin of victory is the right one. Bayern were world class but there is no excuse for losing 8-0.

“By the end, I was hoping that we wouldn’t lose by double digits.

“We now have to pick ourselves up, put the game behind us as fast as we can and show a reaction in our next game, against Borussia Monchengladbach.”