David Moyes hopes the big occasion will bring the best out of his faltering Manchester United FC side as FC Bayern München head for Old Trafford in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. Josep Guardiola is still wary of what United can produce, but he is also concerned with the more distant past: specifically 1976 and the last time Bayern successfully defended the European Cup.
“Bayern were a very good side last year – they won the Champions League and had a good team, and they’ve looked to add to that again this season. They have a new manager and I congratulate them on winning the Bundesliga. They are probably the side most people have looked to recently.
I think the pressure is equally balanced. We want to win the game as much as Bayern do. We go into the game knowing that on our day we’re as good a side as any. We have to show that more often but I have great belief in the players. I have said that from day one – and that hasn’t changed. We have defensive issues, undoubtedly. I won’t be giving out my team today. But as everybody is well aware, we will have to make one or two changes.
We want to make sure we play well. We want to keep improving. There have been little signs recently that we are – we’ve had some good results and we need to try to build on that. We are playing against a good side, but it is the sort of night where in recent history United have risen to the occasion,” said Moyes.
Bayern gaffer, Guardiola had this to say on the match, “We are up against Manchester United and they are one of the most important clubs in the world, regardless of their current situation. Just look back at the last ten to 15 years under Sir Alex [Ferguson]. They still have very good players. It is a great honour for me to be here again in Manchester – the last time was about 20 years ago [a 2-2 group stage draw in 1994]. I hope we can produce a good performance.
There are eight teams in the quarter-finals and every one of the eight coaches, not to mention every player, wants to win this title. For me, it is not the most important title of the season but it is the most prestigious. We know how important it is for the club, the players, the coach, to compete and try to win this. It is not easy, but Bayern are going to try. The last time [they defended the European Cup] it was ’76, with Franz Beckenbauer’s team.
As a coach it is important to keep going, to maintain what we did last season and try to achieve that again. To do it against a team like Manchester United is an honour, a real honour. Coaches around the world don’t like being called favourites before the game, but I can’t argue. I have to accept it because last season Bayern won everything and this season we have won the title with seven games to spare.
But I know deep in my heart which [Manchester United] team we are going to face. Maybe they have not had a good season in the Premier League, but in the Champions League they beat Leverkusen [5-0], they have won many important games. But when I see [Wayne] Rooney, when I see [Rio] Ferdinand, when I see [Nemanja] Vidić, when I see Ryan Giggs, when I see Chicharito [Javier Hernández], [Danny] Welbeck … I know them all too well”.
Guardiola guided FC Barcelona to UEFA Champions League final triumphs against United in 2009 (2-0 in Rome) and 2011 (3-1 at Wembley). He also lifted the trophy as a player at Wembley when Barcelona overcame UC Sampdoria in 1992.