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May 16, 2014

Lahm: Guardiola right fit for Bayern

ESPN FC's Mark Donaldson discusses Bastian Schweinsteiger's injury and how it is being handled leading up to the World Cup.

Philipp Lahm has defended Pep Guardiola and his tactics by saying the Spaniard arrived at Bayern Munich at exactly the right time.

• 50-50 Challenge: Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund

Bayern clinched the Bundesliga title after only 27 games this season, but since then the club's campaign has taken a turn for the worse.

Although they have qualified for the DFB-Pokal final, the Bavarians went three Bundesliga games without a win in March and April, losing two of them.

In the Champions League, meanwhile, Real Madrid ended Bayern's hopes of defending their crown at the semifinal stage, running out 5-0 winners on aggregate.

Following the elimination, Guardiola came under fire from the German press and, until recently, his side had struggled to recover from the setback.

"We'd need to look at all of those matches, and we'd see that not everything was great before, but not everything was bad after that," Lahm told Sueddeutsche Zeitung. "Just look at the 1-0 defeat in Madrid. What do people imagine? That we'll go to Madrid, to Real, who have been to all the semifinals in recent years, and beat them 3-0 and Real does not create one single chance?"

Earlier this week, Franck Ribery put Bayern's slump in form down to Guardiola's rotation policy.

"That was a new situation for all of us. Personally, I need to be playing games. I need five or six games before maybe taking a break, but not after just one game," Ribery said.

And while Lahm also conceded that after securing the title Bayern "did not give it their all in training and thus lacked a few percent on the pitch, a bit less sharpness, a bit less focus," the Germany international refused to blame Guardiola and his tactics.

"This man is top, top, top," Lahm said. "He came at exactly the right time and then the club has to follow him. If we'd only park the bus and waited for counters, then Guardiola would not be the right coach. But I think his idea of football perfectly fits this team and a club like Bayern.

"To me it's dreamlike. To play 100 passes and have 100 touches of the ball, to not give the opponent the ball or air to breathe -- that's how I enjoy football. Don't wait, don't chase the opponent and wait until I maybe get the ball again, then rush upfront, finish the counter and back again. I want to play successful [football] and have fun at the same time."

With Bayern losing 4-0 to Madrid and 3-0 to Borussia Dortmund within a month, there have been claims that the days of Guardiola's possession-based football are numbered.

But Lahm said: "It's a perfect system, I love it, but you have to play it at 100 percent. For three quarters of the season we were praised for this style -- in all of Europe.

"For our dominance, for the chances we created, for the goals we did not concede, I am convinced this style is the right style. It's not about the system. It's only about playing it right again."

On Saturday, Bayern can secure the domestic Double when they face Dortmund in the DFB-Pokal final at the Olympiastadion.

However, they may be without injured midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger as well as forward Mario Mandzukic.

According to reports in the German media, neither player boarded the flight to Berlin on Thursday and both will miss the game.

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