Pep Guardiola impressed with Bayern’s quest for repeat titles

Bayern Munich manager likes his players' continued zeal for success while Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti takes cautious approach to Cristiano Ronaldo’s recovery from injury ahead of their Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg match.

Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola, left, talks with assistant coach Hermann Gerland during their team's training session at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain on April 22, 2014. Bayern Munich will face Real Madrid in a Uefa Champions League semi final first leg match on Wednesday. EPA/BALLESTEROS
Powered by automated translation

MADRID // Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola said it was his players' continued zeal for success that has impressed him most ahead of the first leg of the Uefa Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid on Wednesday night.

Guardiola took over a side that last season had won a treble of Bundesliga, German Cup and the European Cup under Jupp Heynckes. After winning the Bundesliga title in record time, Bayern are on course to repeat the achievement this season.

“People believe that because you win last time you should win again, but it is not just Bayern taking part and there are other teams that have a lot of quality, money and can compete at a high level. It is normal that when you win a title you lose some of that zeal,” Guardiola said.

“The reason why I am most proud of this team, though, is the way that this season they have started again and won the Bundesliga in March with seven or eight games still to be played.

“We are also in the cup final and the semi-finals of the Champions League. The team has worked so hard and even when they are not playing well they have still fought.

“After we won the league title we did lose our focus, but I was happy in the last game as we didn’t play well but we had the right spirit and hopefully we will show this spirit to get to the final.”

Guardiola reached the semi-finals in his four seasons as coach of Barcelona and won the trophy twice. His Barca side was the last to beat Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in European competition, in April 2011.

“The statistics are with another club at another time and in another situation so they don’t have anything to do with it,” Guardiola said before tonight’s first leg at the Bernabeu.

Ancelotti taking cautious approach to Ronaldo’s recovery from injury

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti insists he will not risk playing Cristiano Ronaldo against Bayern Munich in their first-leg of their Uefa Champions League semi-final tie if the forward has not fully recovered from injury.

The prolific Portuguese has not played any competitive football since Madrid's 3-0 quarter-final first-leg win over Borussia Dortmund on April 2, coming off in the 80th minute of that match with an injury to his left knee.

Ronaldo had to miss the return leg in Dortmund and last week's Copa del Rey final win against Barcelona because of a subsequent hamstring problem, but returned to full training on Monday.

“Cristiano trained normally today, he’s trained well in the last few days and tomorrow he’s going to have more tests and then we’ll make our decision,” Ancelotti said yesterday. “If everyone is certain he can play without any problems at all, then of course he will play.”

Follow our sports coverage on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE