Pep Guardiola has declared that Bayern Munich must be at their absolute best if they are to avoid a third successive Champions League semifinal exit under his charge. Bayern trail Atlético Madrid 1-0 going into Tuesday’s second leg at the Allianz Arena following a frustrating evening last week in the Spanish capital. Having lost to Real Madrid and Barcelona in the last two years, and with Guardiola departing for Manchester City this summer, Tuesday represents the Catalan’s final chance to break through into a final.
"It is the third semifinal in a row for us. It is a real honor," Guardiola said ahead off the match. "We need our best performance to reach the final. We must not think about how many goals we have to score, first we need to defend well and control the game."
"It is difficult to play against Atlético. They stay very tight. But we will do all we can to fight our way through that. We will try to attack with the whole team and not give away any counter attacks.”
In their attempt to break down the stingiest defense in the Champions League this season, Bayern will be boosted by the return of France winger Franck Ribery, who has recovered from a back injury that kept him sidelined for Saturday’s contest with Borussia Monchengladbach. Guardiola made eight changes to his side for that contest, in which Bayern were held to a 1-1 draw to leave them having to wait another week to seal the Bundesliga title.
Still, the match did see defender Jerome Boating make his return from injury. Thomas Müller, who was a surprise exclusion from the starting lineup in the first leg against Atlético, also got on the scoresheet for his 32nd goal of the season.
Atlético were able to secure maximum points at the Weekend. A 1-0 win for Diego Simeone’s side over Rayo Vallecano kept them level on points with Barcelona at the top of La Liga and behind only on the teams’ head-to-head record.
It was also Atlético’s seventh consecutive win in all competitions, and their sixth in a row without conceding a goal. And they will be further boosted on Tuesday by having inspirational central defender Diego Godín back available after he missed the first leg through injury. It means Simeone now has a selection dilemma, with José María Giménez, Stefan Savic and Lucas Hernández also competing for a spot at the heart of a backline that has conceded just five goals in 11 Champions League matches this season.
“We are fortunate to have four important center-backs," Simeone said. It is clear that Godín has shown his hierarchy with his performances, and his presence is important. But it is also true that the present of Savic, Giménez and Lucas is very good and that makes us hopeful.”
After Simeone’s side emerged victorious in the second leg thanks to another superb defensive effort to protect a fine individual goal from Saul Niguez, former Barcelona midfielder Xavi suggested he wasn’t a fan of Atlético’s style of play. But Simeone has made clear he won’t be changing for anyone else’s benefit.
“We will remain true to our style,” he said. “The only way of feeling calm is being ourselves and that is what we will try for tomorrow."
D: Lahm, Martinez, Boateng, Alaba
Costa, Vidal, Müller, Ribery
D: Juanfran, Giménez, Godín, Luis
M: Saul, Gabi, Augusto, Koke
F: Torres, Griezmann
Kickoff time: 2:45 p.m. EDT
TV channel: Fox Sports 1, ESPN Deportes
Live stream: Fox Sports Go, Fox Soccer 2Go, Watch ESPN