Repeat of Bayern’s successful season extremely difficult, says Flick - GulfToday

Repeat of Bayern’s successful season extremely difficult, says Flick

Manchester City

Manchester City players attend a training session on Tuesday, ahead of their match against Porto. Courtesy: Manchester City website

MUNICH: Holders Bayern Munich kick off their Champions League defence against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday but a repeat of their quintuple-winning year will be extremely difficult this season, coach Hansi Flick said on Tuesday.

The Bavarians who lifted the European trophy in a delayed finish to the tournament in August due to the COVID-19 pandemic, also won the domestic double as well as the domestic and European Super Cup.

“We want to be as successful as possible,” Flick told a news conference ahead of Tuesday’s first group stage game. “But to reach the optimum as we did recently will be extremely difficult.”

“Especially in the Champions League there are many very good opponents. It is all about taking one game at a time. It has served us well to focus on the road ahead.”

Several players have recently left the German club, including Thiago Alcantara, Ivan Perisic and Philippe Coutinho. However, they have brought in Leroy Sane, Marc Roca, and Douglas Costa among other this season.

“It is a different team from last season and every team has its strengths and weaknesses,” Flick said.

“As for now, I am fairly satisfied. We have had only one week of training with everyone together, but there is more depth in our squad now. What will be very important is not to have any injuries. You saw that at Liverpool now with Virgil van Dijk.”

Apart from Sane who has been out for a couple of weeks, Flick will have a full squad to chose from, including midfielder Joshua Kimmich who missed their 4-1 league win at Arminia Bielefeld on Saturday due to the birth of his second child, but was back in training on Tuesday.

“It will be a game that will be on equal terms because Atletico are a team that reflects on the pitch what their coach Diego Simeone stands for and that is passion,” Flick said.

“I look forward to the game and the coach who has been doing outstanding work there for the past nine years.”

Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola starts his latest bid to lead Manchester City to Champions League glory with the shadows of past failures casting doubt on his ability to secure that elusive title.

City host Porto in their opening Champions League group match on Wednesday with Guardiola’s failing in the tournament weighing heavily on both the Spanish boss and his club.

Despite all their domestic success in recent years, City have never gone beyond the semi-finals of the Champions League and Guardiola has found the competition equally vexing for much of the last decade.

Since he won the Champions League as Barcelona boss for the second time in 2011, Guardiola has failed to return to the final of Europe’s elite club competition. That nine-year drought includes four years of frustration since he took charge at City in 2016. In that time, Guardiola has seen City beaten by Monaco in the last 16 and Liverpool, Tottenham and Lyon in the quarter-finals.

He also lost in three semi-finals during his time as Bayern Munich manager before moving to City.

Last season’s shock 3-1 defeat against Lyon in Lisbon was especially galling as City were heavy favourites against the French side.

Guardiola deserved a large portion of the blame for that letdown after his tactical tinkering appeared to unsettle his players and did nothing to tilt the tie in City’s favour.

Zidane not thinking about Clasico as Real prepare for Shakhtar test: Real Madrid are fully focussed on Wednesday’s Champions League match against Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk and will not make drastic changes to the line-up even though they face rivals Barcelona in La Liga this weekend, coach Zinedine Zidane said.

Shakhtar have arrived in Spain without several first-team players who were not fully fit after going into isolation following positive COVID-19 tests.

But Zidane said his players cannot afford to be complacent as they begin their pursuit of a 14th Champions League crown.

“The other matches will then come, but the only game we’re preparing for right now is tomorrow’s,” Zidane told a news conference on Tuesday.

“I know that many Shakhtar Donetsk (players) cannot play but they’re still competitive and have a deep squad.”


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