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Apr 11, 2014

Pep Guardiola wowed by Madrid quality

Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola believes Champions League semifinal opponents Real Madrid may boast the finest squad in world football.

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Bayern, who are hoping to reach a fourth Champions League final in five years, were handed a repeat of the 2012 semifinal in Friday’s draw and former Barcelona boss Guardiola is well aware of the threat the Spanish giants pose.

“It will be an outstanding match,” Guardiola, who will return to the Spain for the first time since taking charge of the European champions, told a news conference in Munich. “I am delighted.”

Guardiola believes Bayern, who have already retained their Bundesliga title this season, will have to be at their very best to keep their European hopes alive when they face Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

“Their strength is the quality of every single player,” he said. “They have outstanding players. The quality is just... wow!

“They are strong. Every player can win those two matches by himself. In Europe, Madrid might have the biggest quality. But Bayern also. In the end, tactics are important, the stamina as well, but the quality of the players is the most important thing in football.”

He added: “When you can’t control Cristiano [Ronaldo] and [Gareth] Bale, you are broken. When we allow them time to think -- with [Luka] Modric, [Asier] Illarramendi, [Xavi] Alonso, Isco there too -- then they have a lot of quality. They can do everything. We must be capable of creating a lot of chances in the first leg [in Madrid].”

He said Madrid are “the best counter attacking team in Europe, alongside Borussia Dortmund” -- the team Ancelotti’s side eliminated from the competition after a battle at the Westfalenstadion this Tuesday.

“It’s a huge scenario,” he said. “They have fast players in attack, a fast moving back four, a great keeper. I know Real very well, as a player, as a coach. I know how difficult those games will be. But I like playing the best players, the best teams and the best coaches in the world. Madrid have everything. It is a big test for us against one of the best teams in the world.”

Guardiola stressed that, regardless of Madrid’s quality, Bayern must focus on their own responsibilities.

“I have been to the semifinal five times,” he said. “The motivation is still very high. All of Europe will be watching us. For such games, you are coach, you are footballer. I know their strengths, will analyse them and then convince our players. When we play well, we can reach the final.”

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