Soccer: Bavarian welcome for Guardiola

Pep Guardiola's start at Munich has been eagerly awaited. Photo / AP
Pep Guardiola's start at Munich has been eagerly awaited. Photo / AP

Josep "Pep" Guardiola was expected to bring a touch of glamour to the Bundesliga early today when the 42-year-old faces the world's media in his first press conference as head coach of European champions Bayern Munich.

Since it was announced on January 16 that Guardiola will replace Jupp Heynckes, the arrival of the ex-Barcelona manager in the Bavarian capital has been eagerly awaited.

Hopes are high: Bayern have switched Guardiola's first two training session to Munich's Allianz Arena with up to 25,000 fans expected.

After six months of intensive tutoring, his opening press conference was expected to be in German, with a translator for the Spanish media.

His mother tongue is Catalan, but he has a flair for languages, having picked up his first English words as a 7-year-old then learned Italian during spells with Brescia and Roma. He is working on mastering German.

After winning 14 titles between 2008 and 2012 at Barcelona, Guardiola was in hot demand by the world's top clubs during his self-imposed year's sabbatical with his family in New York.

Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Paris St Germain all wanted him, but "he opted for Bayern, because the club offered the most interesting project", explained adviser Joseph Maria Orobitg.

Guardiola first approached Bayern in July 2011 when he casually mentioned to chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and president Uli Hoeness that he could imagine coaching their team.

Further contact was established in April last year and the three-year contract was finally signed "just after Christmas", said Rummenigge.

Orobitg has said the Bayern deal was not the most lucrative on offer, but it is still estimated to be worth about €15 million ($25.4 million) a season.

His staff will be made up of assistant coach Domenec Torrent, scout and video analyst Carles Planchart, fitness trainer Lorenzo Buenaventura and confidant Manel Estiarte.

Much has been written of the Tiki Taka quick-passing football Barcelona perfected under Guardiola, but it remains to be seen if he turns from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3 formation. He has the players to do that with Germany's Thomas Mueller and Franck Ribery on right and left wings with new arrival Mario Goetze in the middle.

"Nothing is more dangerous than risking nothing," Guardiola once said.

- AFP

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