• Champions League

Guardiola full of praise for counterpart Wenger

ESPN staff
February 19, 2014
Guardiola: Bayern must handle favourites tag

In light of Arsene Wenger's recent war of words with Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola has leapt to the defence of the Arsenal manager by indicating he had "a lot of respect" for him.

In a public spat regarding success at their relative clubs, Mourinho branded Wenger a "specialist in failure" in reference to Arsenal's eight-year run without winning a trophy.

Guardiola's Bayern Munich take on Arsenal at the Emirates on Wednesday in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 clash. Wenger previously admitted Guardiola's former Barcelona side, which were crowned European Champions in 2009 and 2011, was "the best team" he had ever faced and even suggested they were better than Bayern's current squad.

However, Guardiola spoke fondly of his managerial counterpart during his pre-match press conference and revealed if Bayern let Arsenal play their natural game in North London, the Germans would "suffer."

"Arsenal compete with huge teams. Important teams," Guardiola said. "For me, they remain a good team and a good club. I know the association is, if you win you are the best, if you are second you are the worst.

"I have a lot of respect for Arsene. He always likes good players, always plays in a good style. If we give the ball to them, we are going to suffer."

"I have never won here [at the Emirates]. I learnt that you can never dominate Arsenal for 90 minutes. You can dominate for 30 minutes, to half-time, but for 90 minutes it is impossible. Against Arsenal, with their quality players, you always have a problem."

Similar to Wenger's situation, Guardiola has endured numerous quarrels with Mourinho, particularly while the Portuguese was manager of Real Madrid.

However, Guardiola could not help but dismiss Mourinho's "specialist in failure" ideology and issued a parting dig at his rival; that "life is not only trophies."

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