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Guardiola leads lacklustre Bayern into Europe

16 Sep 2013 00:31:52

Guardiola leads lacklustre Bayern into Europe

Pep Guardiola makes his Champions League debut as Bayern Munich coach at home to CSKA Moscow on Tuesday with the Bavarian giants underperforming, according to sports director Matthias Sammer.

Bayern earned a 2-0 win at home to Hanover 96 on Saturday to stay second in the Bundesliga, but Sammer was scathing at a perceived lack of effort from the European champions.

"We're playing lethargic football, we're just going through the motions, we have to get out of this comfort zone," fumed Sammer after the win left the champions second in the Bundesliga.

"The hype around Pep -- which he can't do anything about -- is there every day and we all find that so great that it has made us all a bit less responsible.

"We are missing the last five percent."

Bayern needed second-half goals by Croatia striker Mario Mandzukic and France winger Franck Ribery to see off a compact Hanover side and pick up their fourth win from five games.

Their 1-1 draw at Freiburg a fortnight ago was the only league points they have dropped so far under Guardiola.

But after becoming the first German team to win the treble of European, cup and league titles under Jupp Heynckes last season, Bayern have failed to dominate so far this season under Guardiola.

Having won 14 titles in four years at Barcelona -- including the 2009 and 2011 Champions League -- Guardiola has changed Bayern's formation to a 4-1-4-1 system.

It has meant breaking up the partnership of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez, which gave Bayern their defensive midfield stability last season.

With Schweinsteiger recovering from an ankle strain, Germany and Bayern captain Philipp Lahm has played as the lone defensive midfielder in front of the Bayern back-four.

It has meant gaps have appeared between Munich's defence and midfield which didn't exist last season, and despite dominating possession Bayern have yet to produce a convincing display.

Sammer is concerned Bayern have lost some of the fire which drove them to sweep aside all rivals last season having lost the 2012 Champions League final at home to Chelsea.

"Five titles in the last 14 months; Franck has been voted European players of the year, perhaps we will also get the world footballer of year," said Sammer.

"I find it all a bit of a fake world around us and I don't like it."

Certainly a convincing win over the Russian Premier League champions at Munich's Allianz Arena will help calm Sammer's fears.

Bayern are without injured central midfielders Mario Goetze and Spaniard Thiago Alcantara, while Schweinsteiger, who spent the Hanover game on the bench, is set to feature.

Moscow warmed-up for the trip to Bavaria, and shrugged off having to switch grounds, by extending their lead at the top of the table with a 1-0 win over Rostov.

With 20 points from eight matches, CSKA are three points ahead of Zenit St. Petersburg.

CSKA's match was moved to Moscow's Torpedo stadium after their own Khimki arena was damaged after a European U-21 qualifier was played in heavy rain.


AFP

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