Pep Guardiola will be measured by his performance in the Champions League, whether he likes it or not. With the quarterfinal looming, the Spaniard is confident but respectful. The Italians are without some key names.
"I know what will happen if we don't win the competition. I accept the pressure and the role," said Pep Guardiola in Bayern Munich's press conference on Tuesday ahead of their Champions League second leg against Juventus. Failure to win the competition has become the biggest hurdle for the Spaniard since arriving in Munich and after two semifinal defeats, it's now or never for Guardiiola at Bayern.
"I've never been afraid of a Champions League game," said Guardiola, aware and perhaps irritated at the reminder of the club's expectation to constantly win the trophy. "If we win, we are happy. If we don't, we think about what we can do better. It's how a great club works," added the 45-year-old coach.
Despite being hampered by heavy snowfall in Munich, Bayern's squad were still able to prepare ahead of Wednesday's game, with Arjen Robben the only surprise question mark. After being rested against Werder Bremen, the Dutch winger is now suffering from a cold. When asked about his inclusion, Guardiola said: "I don't know. I hope so, but right now, I don't know."
Looking to secure their fifth consecutive quarterfinal appearance in Europe's top club competition, Bayern have a distinctive advantage playing at home with two away goals to their name. For Guardiola and his team though, the tie is far from over.
Juventus rocked by injuries
"Italian sides never lose their heads," said Robert Lewandowski, who was at the press conference with Franck Ribery on Tuesday. The Polish striker has 34 goals in 37 games in all competitions for Bayern this season, but knows the 2-2 draw in Turin is only half the job. "We can't play to draw. It won't be enough against Juventus," said the striker, adding: "It doesn't matter that two or three players can't play [for Juventus]. That doesn't mean Juve are weaker."
The absence of those two or three players will be a huge boost to Guardiola's team, whatever Bayern's number nine says. Juventus' star striker Paulo Dybala and midfielder Claudio Marchisio are out injured, as are defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Martin Caceres. There are also some doubts over the fitness of former Bayern striker Mario Mandzukic, although he is expected to play.
After his fine spell of form, Joshua Kimmich is expected to start in defense again. When it came to team selection though, Guardiola only had the following to say: "I love my job, but I hate this situation [telling players they're not playing]. I have a lot of respect for footballers."
As with every Bayern press conference, it was an opportunity for questions to be asked about the future of certain players. Frenchman Franck Ribery joked with Bayern's press officer Markus Hörwick that he wouldn't say no to a contract until 2050, but whether or not the 32-year-old winger will stay beyond the summer of 2017 is unknown.Ribery recently said
to German daily "Bild" that he was hoping to extend his stay with the club.
Bayern defender Mehdi Benatia, a former Serie A player, told Italian sports channel "Rai Sport" Juventus' "peculiarity is that they can also win if they play an average game." Bayern played average football for the last half an hour in Turin and it cost them. With Juventus unbeaten in 19 consecutive games in all competitions, Bayern and Guardiola can ill afford to do the same again.