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Guardiola voices 'huge respect' for Bayern

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Guardiola voices 'huge respect' for Bayern

Postby FCBayernNews » Tue Apr 07, 2009 9:00 pm

Barcelona are pursuing a historic treble of the domestic double and the Champions League this term, seeking to emulate an exclusive club numbering only Manchester United (1999), PSV Eindhoven (1988), Ajax (1972) and Celtic (1967). Even more importantly for the Catalans, it would strike a huge prestige blow against arch-rivals Real Madrid.

The quest for the treble is backed by an attack which has plundered 125 goals in 46 matches, allied to the best defence in Spain with just 24 goals against in 29 league games. "Barça are coming very, very close to footballing perfection," enthused El Periódico this week. Club president Joan Laporta described his men's flair and skill at a time of economic crisis "the best anti-depressant there is."

Guardiola's steady hand

Josep Guardiola, who became head coach last summer, is credited with the revival in Barca's fortunes. "Pep" embodies the spirit of the club like no other, starting out as a ball-boy at Camp Nou, becoming a member of Johan Cruyff's "Dream Team" in the 90s, and serving for years as club captain. As a coach, he has now assembled a record-breaking team.

The quality is not confined to world-class strike trio Messi, Eto'o and Henry. "Even bad strikers would score in this team," admits Eto'o. The play is orchestrated by midfield maestro Xavi, a master at changing the pace of a match. Alongside crowd hero Andrés Iniesta, Xavi ensures his side remain 100 percent in control. "Possession is key to the way Barca play," El Periódico noted.

Respect for Bayern

For all their strengths, the Catalans are more than wary of their German opponents. "We have huge respect for Bayern. You simply can't trust them," Guardiola admonished. That attitude has not been affected by Bayern's heavy defeat in Wolfsburg at the weekend. "There couldn't have been a worse result for us," the coach insisted, "after losing 5-1, Bayern will be aggressive and totally motivated. They'll be desperate to make amends."

Barça legend Cruyff agreed with the coach. "A debacle sets off a state of emergency," the Dutchman wrote, "If I could choose, I'd rather my opponents were confident and not wounded. And if there's one thing the Germans always have, it's their pride."

Toni and Ribéry the threat

That aside, the Barcelona camp is very wary of Luca Toni and Franck Ribéry. "Luca Toni is hard to stop in the area. We should keep him as far away as possible," advised Guardiola, once Toni's team-mate at Brescia. The 1.96 metre Italian's likely marker Gerard Piqué stands just 1.85 metres, with fellow centre-half Rafael Márquez a comparatively puny 1.82 metres.

"You won't win any headers against him," the coach warned his men, ordering them to cut out as many crosses as possible, and avoid fouls in promising free-kick positions. Cruyff feels his former club must deal effectively with the threat posed by Ribéry. "Ribéry is only dangerous with the ball at his feet," he said, "if he only gets the ball half as often as normal, he'll only be half as dangerous."

Home team at full strength

Barça are likely to be at full strength on Wednesday. Captain Carles Puyol and Iniesta both returned from injury and performed with distinction in the weekend 1-0 win over Real Valladolid. The only doubt concerns the injured Touré Yaya, with Spain debutant Sergio Busquets or Seydou Keita standing by to deputise in defensive midfield.
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