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May 7, 2014

Philipp Lahm defends Guardiola tactics

Bayern Munich captain Philipp Lahm has defended Pep Guardiola, telling Sport Bild the players just need to show more "conviction" as they adapt to his tactics.

Marcotti: Tiki-taka not to blame
Honigstein: Madrid simply better
Schaaf: Pep's tactics exposed

A week on from the 4-0 home defeat to Real Madrid, the debate over its cause continues in Germany, with questions over Guardiola's rotation policy as well as his unrelenting commitment to possession-based tactics.

However, Lahm told the German sports weekly that "there have always been good reasons" for the former Barcelona coach's changes to his starting XI and insisted that they could not be considered the "decisive factor."

He also backed the shift towards possession-based football, which had drawn criticism from Bayern's honorary president, Franz Beckenbauer, even before the recent crisis when he said the team could "become like Barcelona, who are unwatchable."

Lahm highlighted the remarkable success Barca enjoyed during the Guardiola era, even if he feels the coach is now looking to evolve the tactics he employed during his time at the Camp Nou.

"From 2008 to 2012, Barcelona were the yardstick for everyone across the world and played outstanding football, but our goal has never been to become a second Barca," he said. "Under Pep Guardiola, throughout two-thirds of the season, we showed we can play a unique, very successful style: precise and dangerous in attack and, yes, just like Barcelona, with a lot of possession, because possession means controlling the play."

He added: "We have never played tiki-taka, however that is defined, but rather have, with Pep Guardiola, found an effective way of playing football at the highest level."

Bayern clinched the Bundesliga title in record time earlier this year, and Lahm feels the dip in form that has followed is simply the result of the players failing to carry out the coach's tactical instructions effectively, saying: "We need to have the conviction to ensure our system is successful throughout a whole season."

After the Madrid defeat, Guardiola had vowed to keep faith with his philosophy, saying: "We can't play according to the ideas of the players. That is not possible."

Sport Bild suggests that remark was aimed at midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger. In an article titled "That's how Schweini turned into a Pep problem," the paper claims a group of Bayern players led by the Germany international had urged Guardiola to return to playing with two holding midfielders.

Guardiola did feature two holding midfielders against Madrid, but Sport Bild said the coach plans to discard those who cannot adapt to his ideas and that he will look to build around the former Barca midfielder Thiago Alcantara, who is currently injured.

"Anyone who does not fit into Pep's system will not stand a chance at Bayern in the future, and Guardiola will have no regard for big names," the paper added. "Not even for names such as Schweinsteiger."

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