Pep Guardiola Eyes 'Life or Death' Bayern Munich vs. Manchester United Clash

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistApril 8, 2014

Bayern head coach Pep Guardiola watches the Champions League quarterfinal first leg soccer match between Manchester United and Bayern Munich at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England, Tuesday, April 1, 2014.(AP Photo/Jon Super)
Jon Super

Pep Guardiola has highlighted Bayern Munich's Champions League quarter-final second leg with Manchester United as a "life or death" game for the European champions.

The Spanish manager hasn't seen his team win in three matches and is desperate for the newly crowned Bundesliga kings to dominate in front of their own fans, as reported by Sky Sports:

It's a final, a life or death match. United will be looking to hit us on the break and at set-plays and we have to be aware of that. They are one of the best teams in the world, but our away goal is very important even though 1-1 can be very dangerous.

Guardiola—perhaps calling on the inspirational "life or death" quote by Liverpool legend Bill Shankly—appears wary of a United side that have largely disappointed this season.

Although the Red Devils put on a battling display during the first leg at Old Trafford, David Moyes' men appeared most threatening from set pieces, as highlighted by Nemanja Vidic's goal.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 01:  Pep Guardiola head coach of Bayern Muenchen scratches his head during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final first leg match between Manchester United and FC Bayern Muenchen at Old Trafford on April 1, 2014 in Manchester,
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Bayern centre-back Jerome Boateng admits he is nervous about the upcoming clash at the Allianz Arena, per Sky Sports:

"I've got a few butterflies in my stomach," said Boateng. "It's like a final and we've got to play to win because we will end up losing if we play for a goalless draw."    

United did enough in the first leg to remind Bayern they can compete with the best. Even so, the team's 26 percent possession, per, indicated the ball will be in German possession for the most part.

This is fine if United can keep Bayern from notching early in the game. Danny Welbeck missed a glorious opportunity in the initial match, a one-on-one he decided to try to dink over Manuel Neuer, but his bursting run suggested there will be room to counter.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 01:  Javi Martinez of Bayern Muenchen tackles Danny Welbeck of Manchester United during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final first leg match between Manchester United and FC Bayern Muenchen at Old Trafford on April 1, 2014 i
Alex Livesey/Getty Images


The key to this encounter will be if and when United hit the back of the net. Should the scoreline remain tight on the night, eliminating Bayern's away goal turns power in the English club's favour.

That said, Wayne Rooney's battle to regain fitness could be crucial. If he's missing, United's central drive and energy is likely to be depleted. David Maddock of the Mirror believes Rooney will play through his toe injury on Wednesday night, especially considering United have nothing left to compete for in the Premier League.

Bayern are without Javi Martinez and Bastian Schweinsteiger, both of whom are suspended. Jan Aage Fjortoft, a Germany-based pundit, suggests the latter star's absence could be vital:

Guardiola is never one to underestimate opponents and is suitably wary of United's threat. Bayern's squad have collectively taken their foot off the gas after winning the German title but will be more than motivated to squash the fallen Premier League champions' hopes of Champions League football next season.

Currently seventh in the English top flight, it's United who face a "life or death" situation more fervently than their German counterparts.