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Tuesday 22 August 2017

Pep Guardiola: Defeat would be 'major problem' for Munich

Pep Guardiolo
Pep Guardiolo

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola is well aware of the backlash that awaits him if his team fail to advance past Shakhtar Donetsk into the Champions League last eight tonight.

The Spaniard, whose team won the domestic double in his first season in charge and are again favourites to repeat it, has faced no criticism whatsoever from club bosses or fans in his commanding 18 months in charge.

But the former Barcelona coach said that would change if Bayern did not eliminate the Ukrainians in Munich tonight after their goalless first leg in Lviv last month.

"I know what will happen if we do not make it to the next round of the Champions League. Bayern is a big club," Guardiola said. "I am a young coach but I know what to expect."

"I know in what kind of situation we are in. I know it will be a major problem if we do not reach the quarter-finals," said Guardiola, whose contract with the five-time European champions runs out in 2016.

Bayern have set their sights on repeating their 2013 win, after also making the final in 2010 and 2012 and are banking on Guardiola, who has already won the trophy with Barcelona, to deliver the silverware.

Failure to do so would put a dent in Guardiola's winning reputation but it is extremely unlikely that Bayern would want to end the deal early.

While it will be too soon for captain Philipp Lahm to stage his comeback following a broken ankle, Guardiola said everyone else was fully fit.

"It is very simple. We have to win. Donetsk are through with a (score) draw. But I am optimistic. I have full confidence in the team," the former Spanish international said.

The Bavarians are still odds-on favourites to progress, having won all their previous home games in the group stage this season without conceding a goal.

Bayern's domestic form has been equally impressive, having scored an eye-popping 21 goals in their last four league games.

"Against many opponents it is us who are the favourites and that is justified," said captain Lahm.

"So it is also up to us and our own performances to make sure we can count ourselves among the top teams or not," he told Kicker magazine.

"Bayern have to advance because we want to belong to Europe's elite."

Guardiola will be without the experienced Xabi Alonso, who is suspended after his red card in the first leg, but he could have defender Medhi Benatia, back from injury, in the squad.

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