Guardiola criticised over Mueller omission

Bayern Munich's Spanish headcoach Pep Guardiola addresses a press conference on the eve ofthe Champions League quarter-final, first-leg football match between Bayern Munich and Benfica Lisbon in Munich, southern Germany, on April 4, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOF STACHE

Bayern Munich’s Spanish headcoach Pep Guardiola addresses a press conference on the eve ofthe Champions League quarter-final, first-leg football match between Bayern Munich and Benfica Lisbon in Munich, southern Germany, on April 4, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOF STACHE

Pep Guardiola’s decision to leave Germany striker Thomas Mueller on the bench for Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat at Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final was roundly criticised by German media on Thursday.

“Super solo from Atletico! Poor selection from Pep”, read the headline on Bild’s front page, questioning why the Bayern coach began the game without Mueller, “his best scorer away from home in the Champions League”, or French winger Franck Ribery.

Kicker magazine said it was “risky and wrong” to overlook Mueller, “not only his second leading scorer but also a leader” on the pitch, with the German having scored 31 goals this season including eight in the Champions League.

It also lamented Ribery’s omission from the starting line-up, because the Frenchman “is shining again after a long absence” and could have been “the man for the occasion” in the “supercharged atmosphere of the Vicente Calderon”.

“Pep Guardiola’s risky plan didn’t work,” was the headline on the online edition of daily Die Welt, for whom the exclusion of Mueller and Ribery was like “an own goal” for Bayern in Madrid.

Asked after the game, Guardiola justified his team selection, saying: “I wanted a left-footed player on the left and a right-footed player on the right and to have an extra midfielder.”

Ribery and Mueller were introduced as second-half substitutes, replacing Kingsley Coman and Thiago Alcantara, but they were unable to alter the outcome of the match.

“There may be another choice in the next match,” said Guardiola, with Bayern set to host Atletico at the Allianz Arena in the return leg on Tuesday.



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