Guardiola accepts Beckenbauer criticism: He's the Bayern legend

The Spanish coach’s tactics were criticised by the club icon but he insists that he has the utmost respect for the 68-year-old

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola has insisted that he will not take Franz Beckenbauer’s recent criticism of his side to heart.

The West Germany legend claimed in the wake of the Bavarians’ 1-1 draw with Arsenal that the team’s new tactics would see them end up “unwatchable like Barcelona”.

However, the former Blaugrana boss insists he is merely trying to do a good job at the Allianz Arena and is not thinking about the 68-year-old’s words.

“Franz isn’t a legend. He is this club’s legend,” he is quoted as saying by Marca.

“I have enormous respect for his opinion. I give the very best I can, I did at Barcelona and I do here. I always accept these opinions.”

Bayern now sit 23 points clear in the Bundesliga thanks to a 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday, which followed Borussia Dortmund’s shock loss at the hands of Borussia Monchengladbach.

Schweinsteiger: Bayern want Bundesliga title against Mainz

The Germany international is keen to decide the title race next weekend and was very happy with his goal against Leverkusen

Bastian Schweinsteiger is hopeful Bayern Munich can wrap up the Bundesliga title in the upcoming away game against Mainz on March 22.

The Bavarians went 23 points clear of second-placed Borussia Dortmund following their 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen at the weekend.

BVB’s defeat against Borussia Monchengladbach means that it is possible for Pep Guardiola’s men to retain their crown in their next game and Schweinsteiger wants to decide the title as soon as possible.

We’ve won the title in Mainz before now,” the midfielder was quoted as saying on the official Bayern Munich website.

“It would be great because the Mainz fans celebrated with us last time. But it doesn’t really matter when we it so long as we win it.”

The Germany international netted a vital goal in Bayern’s win and was delighted with his strike as he is approaching peak fitness again after a spell on the sidelines due to injury.

It was an important goal because it put the lid on the situation. I’m delighted it went in.

“I’m just trying to do my job and build up the fitness you need to put in top performances at the top level.”

Bayern will be crowned champions if they beat Mainz and Dortmund and Schalke both fail to win next week.

Shaqiri flattered by Liverpool links: I'll listen to offers

The Swiss winger insists there has been no concrete offer from the Reds but claims that he is an admirer of the Premier League

By Fabio Porta

Bayern Munich winger Xherdan Shaqiri has admitted he is flattered by reported interest from Liverpool and insists that “you have to listen to the offer” when “top clubs” come calling.

The Switzerland international has been used sparingly by boss Pep Guardiola during the 2013-14 campaign, with the 22-year-old facing a tough battle with the likes of Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller to break into the starting XI.

The former Basel star, who joined Bayern at the start of 2012, has been linked with an Allianz Arena exit with Liverpool, Juventus and Napoli all having been reported as potential destinations in recent times.

And, when quizzed about the speculation on his future, he told Goal: “When you hear these names, of course you have to listen to the offer, but there is nothing concrete.

“I cannot say anything to this. I am feeling good in Munich but as a player you have to listen, if one of these top clubs is interested.

“I hear the interest from Borussia Monchengladbach for the first time. You have to ask Gladbach. I cannot say anything.”

Asked his thoughts on his favoured league in European football, Shaqiri insisted he remains happy in Germany but that the Premier League and Serie A would be of appeal.

He added: “Bundesliga is the best league for me, but I also like the Premier League and Serie A. In Serie A many teams have developed well with nice players.”

Bayern Munich 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen: Sublime Schweinsteiger tightens champions' grip on the title

Bayern Munich tightened their grip on the Bundesliga title as Bastian Schweinsteiger inspired them to a 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.

The Germany international crossed for Mario Manduzkic to head the home side in front just before the break before he curled home a sublime free kick in the second half to secure the points and extend Bayern’s unbeaten Bundesliga record to 50 matches.

Stefan Kiessling scored a consolation goal in injury time for Sami Hyypia’s side, but Bayern remain on course to defend their title after moving 23 points clear of Borussia Dortmund following their 2-1 defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach.

Bayern made six changes to the side that drew with Arsenal in the Champions League in midweek, with winger Franck Ribery left on the bench by Guardiola.

Both teams traded chances early on, Arjen Robben drawing a fine low save from Bernd Leno after eight minutes, before Son Heung-Min missed a glaring opportunity to give Leverkusen a shock lead two minutes later.

The South Korean striker was slipped through by Kiessling, but sent his close-range shot narrowly wide of the post.

Defences were on top for much of the first half and only the fine reflexes of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer kept Bayern on level terms as he produced an excellent stop to tip Simon Rolfes’ long-range drive over the bar.

But for all for their attacking initiative, Leverkusen were undone shortly before half-time as Mandzukic glanced Schweinsteiger’s right-wing cross into the top corner.

And victory was all but ensured for Guardiola’s men 10 minutes after the break when Schweinsteiger curled a marvellous free kick beyond a despairing Leno.

Bayern refused to take their foot off the gas and pushed on for a third, which would have arrived if not for Leno, whose diving save kept out a powerful Toni Kroos strike from distance.

Leverkusen pulled one back in injury time as Kiessling headed home from Roberto Hilbert’s right-wing cross, but that proved to be little more than a footnote as Bayern moved within touching distance of the title and put the turbulence of former president Uli Hoeness’ resignation and prison sentence behind them.

Hoeness' spirit will live on at Bayern, says Sammer

The 62-year-old’s conviction for tax fraud has not lessened his popularity within die Roten’s set-up, with the sporting director among those leaping to his defence

Uli Hoeness’ “spirit will live on” at Bayern Munich despite his impending imprisonment and having resigned as club president, according to sporting director Matthias Sammer.

The 62-year-old was sentenced to three and a half years behind bars for tax fraud on Thursday and confirmed his intention not to appeal the verdict on Friday, despite his lawyers originally claiming he would protest it.

Ahead of the Bavarians’ clash with third-placed Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday evening, Sammer insisted that Hoeness’ incarceration will not prevent him from being a major presence at the Allianz Arena.

“The spirit of him will always live on,” the Bayern chief told Sky. “He’s not going to leave the world of Bayern.”

Former Bavaria state president Edmund Stoiber, a co-chairman on Bayern’s advisory board, also threw his support behind the beleaguered World Cup winner whom he claims will always be welcome at die Roten.

“The door is always open and Uli Hoeness will always be the soul of the club,” he told local television. “Whatever he wants to do, anything is possible. I would be delighted to have him.”