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Guardiola feeling the pressure

Updated: 2013-05-28 06:55
By Agence France-Presse in London ( China Daily)

New boss will take over team that could be coming off a historic treble

European champion Bayern Munich plans to win Saturday's German Cup final to see coach Jupp Heynckes off with a historic treble, but it will only increase the pressure on new arrival Pep Guardiola.

The 42-year-old ex-Barcelona boss takes office as Bayern trainer on June 26 as Heynckes ends his two-year tenure as Munich coach after Saturday's German Cup final in Berlin against VfB Stuttgart.

Bayern's 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund in Saturday's Wembley final gave the Bavarians their first Champions League crown since 2001, having lost last season's finale in Munich.

The hurt of defeat to Chelsea on penalties at its own Allianz Arena stadium drove Bayern to win this season's Bundesliga in emphatic style.

Having broken or equaled 25 league records, Bayern will become the first German team to win the treble if it adds the German Cup to the European and league titles.

Potential victory at Berlin's Olympic Stadium - Bayern's 45th of the season - is seen by the players as a fitting finale for Heynckes before he steps down, most likely into retirement.

"We want to keep going to the end of the season and win the cup as well for the boss," said Bayern midfielder Thomas Mueller.

"He has had an incredible career and this would be the perfect way to end it."

Heynckes has said Guardiola can lead Bayern to "embark on an era in European football", but after the club dropped just 11 Bundesliga points all season, the Spaniard will be expected to continue in the same vein.

He has some tough choices to make in deciding who to leave out of his first-choice side.

Part of Bayern's success has been driven by the fierce competition for places. The arrival of Dortmund's Germany star Mario Goetze, and possibly Robert Lewandowski, will not ease the tension.

"My successor will, of course, be able to take over a perfectly functioning team," said Heynckes, who won his second Champions League title after winning with Real Madrid in 1998.

"As far as I know, Mario Goetze will be joining Bayern Munich and I don't think Lewandowski will be hanging about too much either, and then, of course, you've got two top attackers as well."

Heynckes did a great job last season managing the egos of Bayern's stars and one of Guardiola's challenges is how to accommodate the talent at his disposal in an already congested midfield.

Bayern's Wembley hero Arjen Robben, who scored the 89th-minute winner, only returned to Heynckes' first-choice side after Toni Kroos' knee injury at the start of April.

Kroo's misfortune saw Robben regain his place on the wing, with Mueller moved into the center, but Goetze's arrival will mean Robben rivaling Mueller again for the right-wing berth.

Likewise, Lewandowski's potential arrival at Bayern would see three top-class strikers vying for the single berth along with Wembley goal-scorer Mario Mandzukic and Germany's Mario Gomez.

Despite a season spent mainly on Bayern's bench, Gomez still managed 11 goals in 21 league games, mostly as a substitute.

But it remains to be seen if his style as a powerful, traditional center-forward, more used to finishing chances rather than creating them, fits into Guardiola's vision for Bayern.

(China Daily 05/28/2013 page22)