x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Pep Guardiola relishes Barcelona reunion after Bayern Munich win

New manager of the European and German club football champions pays tribute to former club after 2-0 win in friendly as he begins to shuffle his star-studded squad.

Pep Guardiola paid tribute to Barcelona after his former club were beaten by Bayern Munich. Andreas Gebert / EPA
Pep Guardiola paid tribute to Barcelona after his former club were beaten by Bayern Munich. Andreas Gebert / EPA

Pep Guardiola, the Bayern Munich coach, says he still needs time to get his team playing the way he would like despite some excellent pre-season form.

Bayern defeated Guardiola's former club Barcelona 2-0 at the Allianz Arena to win the Uli Hoeness Cup on Wednesday, but the Catalan was not totally satisfied.

That win - thanks to goals from Philipp Lahm and Mario Mandzukic - followed respective 4-0 and 5-1 victories over Bundesliga rivals Hamburg and Borussia Monchengladbach.

Bayern also put three goals past Brescia and four past Hansa Rostock without reply.

But ahead of Sunday's first true test of the season, a German Supercup clash with Borussia Dortmund, Guardiola called for more time to perfect things.

"I'm happy with what we've done so far, but we still need a little more time," he said.

"We still have to improve a bit in terms of our finishing."

Guardiola, however, said he was not making excuses in advance of a possible failure to beat Dortmund.

"We are going to be well prepared and play a good game there," he said.

One area where Guardiola cannot make promises is the distribution of places in his starting XI and, with the summer arrivals of Mario Goetze and Thiago Alcantara, his midfield is now overflowing with elite players. Toni Kroos was given a chance to impress last night, but Javi Martinez was absent following the Confederations Cup and Bastian Schweinsteiger started on the bench.

Goetze, meanwhile, is not expected to be fit for a few more weeks.

"Everybody wants to play but it's mathematically impossible, of course," said Kroos, who remains philosophical about his chances.

"That is why we have these games, for the players to prove themselves and then the coach will gather his impressions to pick his first team, but that does not mean that those players will play in every game in a season which will hopefully be a long one."

 

INTER MILAN

The Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir appears to be close to a takeover of Inter Milan after flying to the Italian city for talks with Massimo Moratti, the club president who has presided over Inter since 1995.

Thohir met with Moratti and his son, Angelo Mario, Thursday as he pushed to finalise a bid for a controlling stake in the club.

Media reports say a deal is expected to be completed this weekend, with Thohir looking for a 75 per cent stake for US$463 million (Dh157.9m). Neither party commented after the meeting.

Thohir is part-owner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and Major League Soccer’s DC United.

 

GLASGOW CELTIC

Celtic will be subject to another Uefa investigation for the "setting off of fireworks" by supporters at Tuesday night's Champions League second qualifier against Cliftonville at Parkhead.

Europe's ruling body confirmed that the Scottish Champions have to answer a charge which allegedly breaches Uefa's disciplinary regulations.

The Hoops won 2-0 against the Irish part-timers to go through to the third qualifier against Swedish side Elfsborg on a 5-0 aggregate with the first leg at Celtic Park next Wednesday night.

Celtic were been fined €25,000 (Dh121,400) for fans' misbehaviour in the Europa League game against Udinese in Italy in December, 2011.

 

NEWCASTLE UNITED

The striker Papiss Cisse has agreed to wear the logo of sponsor Wonga on his Newcastle shirt.

The 28-year-old Muslim had refused to display the pay-day loan company's branding on his kit because earning interest is forbidden by Islamic law.

However, after several weeks of negotiations, the Senegal international and the club have now found a solution and the player, who missed the club's pre-season training camp in Portugal as a result of his stance, will return to the fold.

 

SUNDERLAND

Jozy Altidore has revealed Sunderland's 3-1 Asia Trophy victory over Tottenham Hotspur was the most difficult game of his career, following the death of his boyhood mentor.

The 23-year-old striker ran out at the Hong Kong Stadium on Thursday a day after learning that his first coach, Josef Schulz, had lost his battle with cancer at the age of 61.

Altidore told the Sunderland Echo: "It was probably the hardest game of my life. The guy who got me into football lost his fight with cancer.

"Everything I've known has come from him, so it was a really difficult game."

 

CHELSEA

Chelsea turned on the style in an 8-1 rout of the Indonesia All-Stars yesterday as they completed their Asian tour under new coach Jose Mourinho with a 100 per cent record.

Two goals from the Brazilian midfielder Ramires and another pair from back-from-loan striker Romelu Lukaku accounted for half of Chelsea's goals.

 

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