Augsburg v Bayern Munich: Fearless Guardiola expects victory


Pep Guardiola has insisted he does not fear any Augsburg players in particular ahead of Sunday's Bundesliga encounter and expects Bayern Munich to clinch maximum points.

The Bavarians had to settle for a scoreless draw versus Bayer Leverkusen last weekend, but still hold a comfortable eight-point lead over second-placed Borussia Dortmund.

Having returned to winning ways on Wednesday by beating Bochum 3-0 to reach the DFB-Pokal semi-finals, Guardiola is confident Bayern can get their title defence back on track.

"It will be a very difficult game. Their quality, their team, the coach, the stadium, the fans, the pitch, it all speaks for them," Guardiola said at a media conference.

"Markus Weinzierl made headlines last season when Augsburg qualified for the Europa League for the first time ever. Whoever wins a lot of games is a good coach.

"Daniel Baier is an important player for them, but they will find a way to cope without him. I am sure they will start with 11 players just like us...

"I never fear any players in particular. But I have a lot of respect for them. I know that we can lose against them. But that can only happy if we are not ready for them.

"We very often play against aggressive teams throughout the season, often against teams that sit deep. We have to adapt to our opponents."

Bayern and Augsburg have met 11 times competitively since the latter side won promotion to the Bundesliga in 2011, with the reigning Bundesliga champions emerging victorious on nine occasions. 

Augsburg are one of only two sides - Borussia Monchengladbach being the other - to have beaten Guardiola's Bayern more than once in the Bundesliga. The Spaniard is yet to lose three league games to a club as a head coach, including during his time at Barcelona.

Bayern will still be without Jerome Boateng (groin injury), Franck Ribery (lack of match fitness) and Javi Martinez (knee) on Sunday, while Xabi Alonso is unavailable due to suspension, but Serdar Tasci and Mario Gotze could make the squad if they pass a late fitness test.

Augsburg, meanwhile, still await their first Bundesliga victory of 2016 after ending last year with three consecutive wins to move away from the drop zone.

A recent slump has seen them back battling against relegation, though, with Weinzierl's men just two points clear of 16th-placed Werder Bremen.

Augsburg caused Bayern plenty of problems in the reverse fixture, leading 1-0 with 15 minutes left to play, only to eventually lose 2-1 following Thomas Muller's converted last-gasp spot-kick.

Key Opta facts:

- Bayerrn have kept a clean sheet in 59 per cent of their Bundesliga games under Guardiola and concede an average of 0.57 goals per game.
- Augsburg have taken five points from their last three home games, more than in the previous seven combined (four).
- Bayern have 53 points from 20 games - the second-best return at this point of a Bundesliga campaign to date.
- Robert Lewandowski has only scored more Bundesliga goals against Freiburg (10) than he has against Augsburg (9).
- Augsburg have claimed just two points in 2016. They've scored just once in that timeframe (a league low together with Hoffenheim and Hannover).