Guardiola proud despite defeat

24 April 2014 07:01

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola insisted he was proud of his team even though they lost the first leg of their Champions League semi-final with Real Madrid.

The European champions had 72 per cent of possession over the course of the game but were beaten by Karim Benzema's first-half goal, the result of a lightning-quick counter from Real.

Carlo Ancelotti's side created more goalscoring chances than the visitors, and could have been 3-0 up at half-time had Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria taken their chances.

Bayern's best opportunity fell to substitute Mario Gotze with five minutes remaining, but his effort was repelled by Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

However, Guardiola insisted he was pleased with how his players had performed.

"I could not be prouder of my team, because we dominated the ball," Guardiola told reporters.

"I told my players that I wanted them to play with courage and bravery and with respect to the people who were watching us, and that's what we did.

"I know how difficult it is to play against Real Madrid, as a player and as a coach, and many players are scared when they come here, but we showed character."

The coach also defended his team's tactics, when asked if they should have played in a more direct manner.

"The faster the ball goes forward, the faster Madrid bring it back to us," he said. "Madrid's virtue is that they are so quick on the counter-attack, they are unstoppable in that sense. Their players are footballers but they are like athletes, so playing back and forth is a risk."

Bayern winger Arjen Robben also insisted that the Bavarians had produced a strong performance.

He told German television station ZDF: "We head into the second leg with a lot of confidence. I think we played well, we were up against Real Madrid, a super team, and we dominated them.

"We created a couple of chances, Gotze's was excellent. Now we have to improve for the return match."

However, former Bayern player and coach and honorary president Franz Beckenbauer was less impressed.

He told Sky television: "Possession doesn't mean anything when your opponents create the better chances. We are lucky they only scored one."

Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti was delighted with the result.

"I'm happy in every sense, with the result, and with the effort the players made, because it was a very difficult game," he said.

"We played well and we knew how to cope under pressure.

"At first we were a little shy and had some problems, but we had more control of the play in the second half. We defended a lot, but we created some very good counter-attacks."

Cristiano Ronaldo made his first appearance in 22 days following a hamstring injury, but was replaced by Gareth Bale with 16 minutes left.

And Ancelotti explained he had always planned to bring his prolific forward off before the end of the game.

"The only risk was that the muscle would be tired so we were always planning on substituting him," he said. "It's normal that after 20 days out he was not going to be at 100 percent."

However, the Italian stated that Ronaldo and Bale, who began on the bench because he was recovering from a flu virus, would be able to start the second leg at the Allianz Arena.

Source: PA