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New Bayern boss focused on friend

By Agence France-Presse in Berlin | China Daily | Updated: 2013-07-22 08:21

New Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola said his thoughts were with former Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova on Saturday after overseeing his first match in charge of the Bavarians.

Bayern thrashed Hamburg 4-0 in a 60-minute runout in its Telekom Cup preseason encounter to book a final with host Borussia Moenchengladbach, who beat Borussia Dortmund 1-0 courtesy of a last-gasp Filip Daems penalty.

But the result was not uppermost in Guardiola's mind as he spoke to reporters briefly about his former assistant Vilanova's stepping down as Barcelona boss after a throat cancer relapse.

"It is very diffcult for me to talk about this subject in German. (Vilanova) is a close friend of mine and I love him very much," said Guardiola in comments carried by Spanish media.

He added: "I can only wish him and his family the best as they confront this difficult moment with strength. This is very, very tough for me," he went on.

Both men have been caught up in recent days in something of a war of words after Guardiola, coming off a year-long US sabbatical, accused the Barcelona board of using Vilanova's illness to "damage" him.

Vilanova succeeded Guardiola, twice a Champions League winner with the Catalan club in four years in charge, in the summer of 2012.

Despite his illness, which necessitated long absences for treatment, he led the club to La Liga title last season.

But Guardiola felt moved to deny he has missed a chance to visit Vilanova while he was being treated in New York.

"I will never forget that they used Tito's illness to cause me damage, because it's a lie that I never saw him in New York," he said.

However, Vilanova hit back this week by saying nobody on the Barcelona board had used his illness to attack him.

"Pep got it wrong and I'm surprised by his comments. No one on the board used my illness to attack him," said Vilanova.

He added: "He visited me once in New York when I had just arrived, but during my recovery from the operation I was there for two months and I didn't see him.

"He's my friend and I needed him, but he wasn't there for me. I would have done things differently. I won't say anything else about this."

(China Daily 07/22/2013 page24)

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