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Sep 16, 2013

Guardiola cool on Bayern UCL defence

It is too early to say if Bayern Munich can defend their Champions League title, Pep Guardiola told a press conference at the Allianz Arena on Monday.

• Champions League fantasy football

The former Barcelona coach will make his Champions League debut at Bayern on Tuesday against CSKA Moscow and he believes his side are in good shape, and are slowly improving.

“It’s still too early to say that,” Guardiola replied when asked whether Bayern would become the first team to defend their Champions League title.

“We want to first make it out of the group and qualify for the knockout stages,” he said. “Now is too early [to predict any further].

“To me the Champions League is the nicest and most difficult competition. There are too many good teams in Europe and everyone wants to win the title.”

Most of the press conference, however, did not focus on the game against CSKA but rather on recent comments from the club’s sporting director Matthias Sammer.

At the weekend, Sammer, whom Guardiola called “the most important person in the dressing room and one of the most important people in the club”, had attacked the Bayern team and urged them to get “out of their comfort zone.

“We are playing lethargically at times, playing football without any emotion and just going through the motions,” the former Germany international said.

On Monday, Guardiola replied, saying: “I am satisfied with our performances so far, especially in the T-Cup [one of the pre-season tournaments that Bayern won] or in the 120 minutes against Chelsea in the Super Cup final. Especially during the second halfs [of games] we played well. We need to try and play like that for 90 minutes. But that’s normal during this stage of the season.

“From my first day here I’ve said it won’t be easy. FC Bayern and the Bundesliga are a big challenge. But we want to improve step by step.

“I get to know my team better every day, I see them in training every day. They listen to what I say. If that does not happen, then, as the coach, you have a problem. But that is not the problem, I feel that we go well together, the players follow me.

“Sammer’s opinion did not take me by surprise. That’s the culture in Germany. The people at the club can express their opinion in media. If that happened in Spain, you’d have bigger problems. There we are not acquainted with that.” 

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