Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola says Champions League elimination against Manchester United would represent “a big mistake” for his side.
Bayern drew 1-1 with United at Old Trafford last week, with the result one of three consecutive winless matches for the Bavarians in all competitions following a 3-3 draw with Hoffenheim and then a 1-0 defeat to Augsburg on Saturday.
That loss was Guardiola’s first ever in the Bundesliga and Bayern’s first in 54 matches.
On Wednesday, Guardiola will have only 14 first-team players available for selection against United, with Javi Martinez and Bastian Schweinsteiger suspended, while Thiago Alcantara and Xherdan Shaqiri are injured.
However, Guardiola said that the injuries and the recent defeat against Augsburg will not change his team’s approach, telling his prematch news conference: “I have said that we will lose again. And it happened in Augsburg. [But] The players know better than me how important Champions League is. I’m sorry: Bundesliga is over: We have already won it.
“The Bundesliga is a different competition. I am not here to better Jupp Heynckes’ last year. It’s not important to me if we score more goals or concede less than last year. I am not here to go undefeated through a season. I am here to maintain last year’s level. We did that.
“And, of course, should we not go through to the semifinals, this would be a big mistake. I knew that after the Treble I had to be capable of repeating it. I accepted this chance. We achieved the goal in Bundesliga. And we will try again tomorrow. I am always optimistic in the Champions League.”
The Catalan coach added that after the result at Old Trafford, it will be down to “minor details” to determine who progresses to the Champions League semifinals.
“Should we win then we will progress. Should we not win we will be out.” Guardiola stated. “It will be down to minor details. When the player says: I am Manuel Neuer, I am Philipp Lahm, I am Mario Goetze, I am Claudio Pizarro, and I am here to help the team then everything will be fine.
“Of course Manchester can beat Bayern. I said that before the first leg already and nobody wanted to believe me. But we play at home, in Munich, in front of our people. And I hope the fans will support our players.”
Guardiola reiterated that possession of the ball will be the key. “My dream is that we control the game tomorrow, that Manchester will only have one chance,” he said. “Maybe David Moyes will try something different tomorrow, but I think they will sit deep, with eight men in the penalty area and they will try to maybe punish us from a corner. It is never easy against English teams. We must attack well, a bit better than in the first leg.”
In the first meeting, Bayern’s attack was more dangerous when Croatia international Mario Mandzukic entered the pitch midway through the second half. He set up Schweinsteiger’s goal, winning an aerial duel.
“We’ve got tall strikers and small strikers. Thomas Mueller is not that small, maybe Mario Goetze is. Mario Mandzukic is our most dangerous attacker. In Bundesliga his goals helped us through difficult games. Without him we would not have been that successful. Mario will help us, if it’s from the start or from the bench. But the tendency leans towards starting him.”
Guardiola expects another difficult match against a United team likely to include Wayne Rooney despite his minor injury, with the Spaniard adding “I bet a pint of beer [that Rooney will start]. And [Antonio] Valencia also. I am only certain that Bastian [Schweinsteiger] will not play. Big players always play in big games.”