Football

Pep defends his tactics

Former England manager Glenn Hoddle claimed that Pep Guardiola has taken Bayern Munich backwards since succeeding treble-winning coach Jupp Heynckes last year.

But the Spaniard defended Bayern's possession football in the wake of their Champions League defeat by Real Madrid yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Bayern had 72 per cent of the ball at the Bernabeu - and 80 per cent in the first half - but will start the second leg 1-0 behind after a Karim Benzema goal won the first leg for a Real side content to hit on the break.

Guardiola claimed that a more proactive attacking approach would have played right into the hands of Real's team of "athletes".

He said: "Since I was a player, Real Madrid have basically been a counter-attacking team.

"Of course, if they'd wanted the ball, it would have been an end-to-end game.

"Sometimes in football you hear that we should play more 'vertical', but I think in that situation Madrid are unstoppable.

"They are the best counter-attacking team in the world, they have legs, they are athletes. They are football players, but mainly athletes."

The Bayern boss also claimed it was a good performance from his side, saying: "I am proud of my team. They fought well against a tough opponent, one of the best in the world. We had a good game and I hope we will improve further next week.

"I did not want to have the typical German game of back and forth. I wanted a lot of possession and we managed that in parts. But we did not finish our chances well."

But that opinion was not shared by Bayern legend and honorary president Franz Beckenbauer, who told Sky television in Germany: "Possession doesn't mean anything when your opponents create the better chances. We are lucky they only scored one."

Beckenbaur fears that Bayern will become like Guardiola's Barcelona team who, in his opinion, are not easy on the eye.

"Probably one day we will end up playing like Barcelona and you can't keep looking desperate. Nobody will want to watch us because when they will be on the goal-line, the players will pass the ball backwards," said Beckenbaur.

Real boss Carlo Ancelotti admitted that he didn't like having to relinquish control of the ball for large spells.

However, just as in Real's Copa del Rey victory over Barcelona last week, the Italian believed his side had played to their strengths.

"I don't like to give up the ball. It is clear that you cannot control the ball for the whole game, but especially against Barca and Bayern it is very difficult to control it.

"Football, though, is not just about possession, but defending, counter-attacks and many other things. What we had tonight was the sacrifice of the players, but I don't like not having the ball because you have less chances to score."

- Wire Services.

Champions League