While the result is clearly what will determine whether Bayern Munich or Juventus will qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals tomorrow evening, Pep Guardiola maintained that the best way of converting the 2-2 draw from the last-16 first leg into an aggregate victory would be that of making sure his players carry out their game to the absolute letter.
Speaking to the media at Munich’s Allianz Arena in his pre-match press conference, the Catalan coach began: “We can’t play 90 minutes of football thinking only about the score-line. We need to focus on our game and play as well as possible, giving as good as we’ve got both in attack and defence.
“It’s important that we take full advantage of our strengths and of any weaknesses they may have, although they’re difficult to find.”
Asked whether he expected to face a weakened Juventus outfit, following news that Claudio Marchisio, Paulo Dybala and Giorgio Chiellini will miss the tie at the Allianz Arena through injury, Guardiola was keen to downplay the potential effect of the visitors’ absentees.
“For me, Juventus remain the same tough opponent with a great spirit. Maybe (Alvaro) Morata will start tomorrow, Marchisio is out of course, but then again Hernanes played the majority of the match in Turin. Chiellini wasn’t there either.
“Whether certain players are missing or not, Juve remains a top side with an immense strength of character that has seen them win several titles. They’ll be uncompromising in defence as usual and they’ll wait for their moment to score. My respect for them as a side has only increased since we last met.”
It was this never-say-die attitude, so evident in February’s fightback in Turin, that also drew the praise of Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski, who warned his team-mates against letting up at all in the return leg in front of their own fans.
“We played well for the first 60 minutes, but they they capitalised on our mistakes to eventually level,” said the Poland international. “This time around, we need to stay fully concentrated from the first whistle until the last.”
He continued: “Juventus typifies the Italian spirit of fighting until the very end. When it looks like a match may be over, they view things differently and so we need to stay on our toes tomorrows if we are to win the tie.”
Lewandowski’s thoughts were echoed by Franck Ribery, the French winger admitting he felt in good shape having completed 90 minutes in Bayern’s 5-0 thrashing of Werder Bremen on Saturday.
“I feel fit and ready,” the 32-year-old opened. “I’ve trained well and so it’s up to the coach to decide how to line up the team. For me, it doesn’t make a difference whether I start or come off the bench. I’m there to fight for the rest of the team.”