Magical Four driving Bayern in Guardiola swansong


BERLIN: Bayern Munich will not be deterred by what the club say are false reports of discontent in coach Pep Guardiola’s team as they focus on becoming the first side to win a fourth straight Bundesliga title.

“We can make German football history,” sports director Matthias Sammer told reporters. “And I am not talking about the Champions League but the ‘magical four’. This is what drives us.”

Bayern, who travel to Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday, are eight points clear at the top of the Bundesliga but they have had to deal with a number of issues on and off the pitch recently.

A string of injuries to central defenders including Spaniard Javi Martinez, who will be out for four weeks, and Germany international Jerome Boateng, sidelined for three months, forced the Bavarians to bring in former Germany international Serdar Tasci on loan from Spartak Moscow.

Tasci, however, suffered suspected mild concussion in his first training session on Wednesday and will miss the game with Leverkusen.

There have also been media reports of discontent in Guardiola’s squad and allegations of misconduct by a player during the winter break in Qatar.

“These are all lies,” said Sammer. “This is not the truth and obviously we will take legal action.”

Bayern must also deal with the fallout from the announcement this week that Guardiola will be joining Manchester City next season, news that raises questions about how the players might be affected for the remainder of the season.

GUARDIOLA PRAISE

The Bundesliga champions reacted by praising the coach and by saying the club would fully support him until his last working day in Munich.

Guardiola was signed in 2013 to continue Bayern’s dominance after they had won the treble earlier that year.

He has won back-to-back Bundesliga crowns but lost twice in the Champions League semi-finals, ramping up the pressure from the fans for his final season.

Bayern face last season’s runners-up Juventus in the last 16 later this month.

“Our coach is currently being made responsible for everything that happens and I cannot accept that,” Sammer said.

“I am asking for more respect for Pep because he has done so much for Bayern. All this, instead of driving us apart, will make us come even closer together as a team.”

That unity will be tested by fourth-placed Leverkusen who have lost just one of their last seven league matches.

Second-placed Borussia Dortmund travel to Hertha Berlin, who are third, on Saturday.

REUTERS

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