Pep Guardiola is wary ahead of Bayern Munich’s UEFA Champions League last 16 showdown with Shakthar Donetsk on Wednesday. Very wary.
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Bayern were held to a 0-0 draw by Shakhtar in the first leg, as Xabi Alonso was sent off in Ukraine but Guardiola’s boys held on. Now they are clear favorites to advance but with plenty of pressure on the Bavarian outfit and an expectant home crowd, Guardiola’s side must deliver.
Speaking to reporters in Munich ahead of Wednesday’s last 16 second leg, Guardiola admitted reaching the last eight is a must.
“I know what will happen if we do not make it to the next round of the Champions League. Bayern is a big club,” Guardiola said. “I am a young coach but I know what to expect. I know in what kind of situation we are in. I know it will be a major problem if we do not reach the quarterfinals.”
What could a “major problem” mean for Guardiola? It is safe to say that although Bayern are powering their way towards a second-straight Bundesliga title under the Spanish coach, success in the Champions League is what their owners and directors really want.
If Shakhtar do shock Bayern, then Guardiola’s future at the Allianz Arena could be called into question. Despite waltzing past teams on a weekly basis in the Bundesliga, one of the big questions will surround how much progress has been made since Pep took charge in 2013, following Jupp Heynckes leading Die Roten to the Champions League title.
Last season Bayern were dumped out by eventual champions Real Madrid in humiliating fashion after losing 5-0 on aggregate in the semifinals but defeat in the last 16 this season to a Ukrainian outfit who are ravaged by war in their own nation would arguably be the shock of the UCL tournament so far.