Guardiola hopes ‘tired’ Bayern avoid Champions League hangover + Bundesliga fixtures in UAE time
Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola will be trying to ensure his side do not suffer a Champions League hangover when they head to Cologne this weekend.
Bayern can take another step towards a fourth straight Bundesliga title when they head to a side they beat 4-0 at home earlier this season, but after their midweek exertions, Guardiola admits to being wary.
The record German champions needed extra-time to beat Juventus after grabbing a dramatic last-gasp equaliser against the Italian champions at the Allianz Arena.
It was physically and mentally draining, and Guardiola expects a similar challenge in Cologne.
“We need to turn our minds to our next game,” said the Catalan at a press conference on Friday.
“All that matters now is Cologne. We are only five points ahead of Dortmund and that’s absolutely nothing.
“The players know that every game is a final, be it in the Champions League or in the Bundesliga.”
Getting that message into the players’ minds is only half of the challenge Guardiola has, with tiredness also likely to take its toll on his players after 120 draining minutes on Wednesday.
“All of my players were very tired,” Guardiola said. “But I don’t think we’ll have any major problems.
“Their legs will feel better than they would have done if we had lost to Juventus.”
Guardiola is nevertheless likely to ring the changes ahead of his side’s last game before a two-week break for internationals, with Arjen Robben ruled out with a groin injury which also keeps him out of action for Holland during the international break.
Javi Martinez could make a return after injury, though, with Guardiola saying he’s “fit and optimistic”.
That last word was understandably not uttered by Cologne coach Peter Stoger, but he was not discarding his side’s chances either.
“Upsets happen in football far more than in any other sport,” he told Germany’s Sky Sport.
One of those, in many people’s eyes, seemed set to happen on Wednesday when Juve led Bayern 2-0 in the Allianz Arena with just 20 minutes left.
However, what Stoger and millions of others worldwide witnessed next was something which has made it even harder for the Austrian coach to find that optimism.
“To have such morale and quality to turn the game around was extraordinary,” he said. “There was incredibe footballing quality in the game.
“It felt to me like it was the best performance I’ve seen in a very, very long time.
“The way they turned things around is worthy of utmost respect.”
His side will show that at the Mungersdorferstadion, while hoping this is a good time to face Bayern.
FIXTURES (All times UAE)
Schalke v Borussia Monchengladbach, late
Cologne v Bayern Munich, 6.30pm
Hamburg v Hoffenheim, 6.30pm
Hertha Berlin v Ingolstadt, 6.30pm
Wolfsburg v Darmstadt, 6.30pm
Werder Bremen v Mainz, 6.30pm
Eintracht Frankfurt v Hanover, 9.30pm
Stuttgart v Bayer Leverkusen, 6.30pm
Augsburg v Borussia Dortmund, 8.30pm
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Published: March 18, 2016 04:00 AM