Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola is confident his team can mount what many consider an impossible comeback against Barcelona in the return leg of their Champions League semi-final next week.
Barcelona won 3-0 at the Camp Nou on Wednesday night and Guardiola was widely questioned for his tactical approach to the contest, as well as his late-game substitution of Thomas Muller.
Despite the fact that Bayern have been dealing with a massive injury toll which has left Guardiola’s squad depleted, many feel the manager made a number of mistakes before and during the match at the Camp Nou.
Without the injured trio of Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and David Alba, Guardiola began the match man-marking Barcelona all over the pitch. The one-on-one matchups between his defenders and Barcelona’s attacking trio of Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez led to goalkeeper Manuel Neuer having to bail Bayern Munich out with tremendous saves early on in the contest.
That said, the score remained 0-0 with 20 minutes to play before Guardiola altered his tactics. The manager switched to a back-four and if it weren’t for a giveaway in his own half by left-back Juan Bernat, Barcelona may not have scored.
However, the mistake by the defender allowed Lionel Messi to open the scoring and the floodgates soon opened up on the German champions.
Speaking today, Guardiola said while the 3-0 deficit will make things extremely difficult for his side, he still has confidence that Bayern Munich can tackle the task at home in the Allianz Arena next week.
“We played OK in Barcelona, but not perfect,” the manager said during his pre-match press conference today. “We want to play our best on Tuesday so that we have the best possible chance.
“We will rotate for the game this weekend [against FC Augsburg].
“I am a realist, we have 90 minutes at the Allianz Arena. But I believe and so do my players. Against Barca it will be hard, but we can do it.”
During the first leg, there was a heated exchange between Guardiola and Muller, who was unhappy at being removed by the manager.
The Bayern boss has been slammed in the German press for that decision, as well as his overall approach to the game at the Camp Nou.
When asked if he had made a mistake by taking the player off at the time, Guardiola responded: “Maybe, yes, but I have to live with the criticism of the press.”