Created on 28-03-2014 at 14:59 PM
The Bundesliga title is in the bag and the championship shield is due in Munich on 10 May. So what now? “We intend to keep going,” declared Pep Guardiola in the build-up to the first match after the fastest league triumph of all time. “I don’t think I need to tell my players. You can take it for granted we want to play well and win,” continued the Spaniard on the eve of Saturday’s meeting with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (Live in English from 3.30 pm CET on Twitter and FCB.tv Web Radio) at the Allianz Arena. Celebrating the title was important “and we had a good party,” the boss continued, but he is convinced his man will concentrate 100 percent on posting a 20th league victory on the bounce.
Not letting up is important in terms of respect to all the other Bundesliga teams, Guardiola continued. Another vital aim is to put on a show worthy of champions for the home faithful. And then there is the matter of the trip to Manchester. Bayern versus Hoffenheim is by definition a dress rehearsal for next Tuesday’s first part of the Champions League showdown with United. What does this all mean for Saturday? “We have to play as well as possible to prepare ourselves for the quarter-final in Manchester.”
Guardiola has ordered his troops not to shift down a gear and save themselves for the midweek trip to England. “I don’t want my players only thinking about the Champions League. We can get better in every match by working on the details,” observed the 43-year-old, calling for a focused performance against the fourth-best team since the winter break. Hoffenheim have excelled in attack this term and are the league’s second-highest scorers on 60 goals, behind only 79-goal Bayern.
Starke in goal
“I’m very well aware of how often Hoffenheim have scored. They have very, very good forwards,” noted Guardiola. The TSG attack is spearheaded by Roberto Firmino and Anthony Modeste. “We’re hoping to get a result,” 1899 midfielder Sebastian Rudy insisted. Captain Andreas Beck reckons he and his men are up for it: “We’re looking forward to the Bayern clash, although we know it’ll be unbelievably difficult at their place.“
Both the visitors and the home team will be close to full strength. Without revealing line-up secrets Guardiola indicated he would rotate his squad against the side lying tenth in the table. The Spaniard did confirm one change: Tom Starke will keep goal for FCB, “because he deserves it. He always trains well, he’s a great guy, and he always supports the team.“ You also have to believe the 33-year-old will be keen to impress against his former club.