Guardiola ready to be killed if Bayern fail to make final

MUNICH • Bayern Munich are desperate to avoid losing a third consecutive Champions League semi-final to Spanish opponents when they host Atletico Madrid tonight.

However, coach Pep Guardiola has his work cut out to end his time in Germany on a high.

Guardiola inherited the reigning European champions when he joined Bayern in 2013, but has endured successive semi-final failures since. Bayern fell to Real Madrid in 2014 and to his former club Barcelona last season.

His hopes of reaching a first Champions League final since his Barcelona side beat Manchester United 3-1 in 2011 were dented after Saul Niguez's solo goal gave Atletico a 1-0 first-leg victory last week.

With Guardiola leaving for Manchester City at the season's end, this is his last chance to conquer Europe with the Bavarian giants.

"It's not over yet, we still have a chance," said the Spaniard. "If we lose it, you can kill me, but we still have a chance."

An exit will not go down well in Munich, especially after Guardiola decided to start the first leg in Madrid with Germany star Thomas Mueller, Bayern's top scorer in Europe this season, on the bench.

"We need to be on fire on Tuesday," said Mueller, who shone as Bayern were held 1-1 by Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday and were consequently made to wait for a record fourth consecutive Bundesliga title.

His return was one of eight changes made to Bayern, who were boosted by the return of defender Jerome Boateng, who had not featured since January.

But Arjen Robben remains an absentee while Guardiola does not know whether Franck Ribery will recover from a back complaint.

Bayern have been unstoppable at home in Europe this season, winning all five games at the Allianz Arena. But they needed extra time to come back from 0-2 down to beat Juventus 4-2 at home in the second leg of the last 16.

Atletico are finishing strongly in Spain, having won their last six league games and keeping four consecutive clean sheets. They are level on points with La Liga leaders Barcelona after defeating Rayo Vallecano 1-0 on Saturday.

"It'll be a close game," said manager Diego Simeone. "We'll see who makes the most of their chances."

Influential defender Diego Godin returns from a hamstring injury, Yannick Ferreira Carrasco is also available and Tiago Mendes travels despite not yet being passed fit to play.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 03, 2016, with the headline 'Guardiola ready to be killed if Bayern fail to make final'. Print Edition | Subscribe