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Apr 1, 2014

Guardiola: Don't count out Man United

MANCHESTER -- Pep Guardiola has insisted his all-conquering Bayern Munich side could be beaten by Manchester United in the Champions League.

Bayern, the defending champions, are 23 points clear in the Bundesliga, which they have already won, and are bidding to become the first team since AC Milan in 1989-90 to retain the European Cup.

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In contrast, United, who host Bayern on Tuesday, are only in seventh place in the Premier League and are on course to have their worst season in a quarter of a century.

But Guardiola said: "I know in the deep of my heart which team we are going to play against. Maybe they don’t play a good season in the Premier League, but they make a good season in the Champions League.

"When I see [Wayne] Rooney, [Nemanja] Vidic, Rio [Ferdinand], Chicharito [Javier Hernandez], [Danny] Welbeck, I know they are very good players. Maybe they did not play well in the Premier League -- I don’t know why -- but over one game or two games, they can beat us.”

Guardiola insisted that retaining the Bundesliga is more important than winning the Champions League again.

He added: "For me, it is not the most important title. The local title is the most important, but it [the Champions League title] is the most prestigious. We are always convinced of how difficult it is. The last 38 years, Bayern Munich only won it twice, since 1975-76 was the last with Franz Beckenbauer’s team, so it is not easy."

Guardiola reiterated his desire to keep Toni Kroos, who is out of contract in 2015 and has been scouted by United, though he said it is up to the club to retain his services.

He said: "Toni has one year more of a contract, and Toni will remain here. I hope he can extend his contract and stay with us because he is a very good guy. He loves his game. It is not just a job for him, and I would like him to stay, but I spoke with the player, with the club. I gave my opinion. After that, I am not manager. I am just the trainer."

Bayern will be without the sidelined trio of Holger Badstuber, Diego Contento and the former United target, Thiago Alcantara, but have no other injury worries.

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