Tue, Jul 16, 2013 - Page 18 News List

Bayern labor to win over Hansa Rostock

AFP and Reuters, BERLIN and MADRID

Bayern Munich labored to a 4-0 win at German third-tier minnows Hansa Rostock in Sunday’s benefit friendly as the European champions continue to adapt to coach Pep Guardiola’s new system.

Bayern, who beat Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund 2-1 at Wembley in May’s Champions League final, won the treble of European, Bundesliga and DFB Pokal titles last season playing a conventional 4-2-3-1 formation under coach Jupp Heynckes.

Former Barcelona boss Guardiola, who won 14 titles in four years at the Camp Nou, succeeded Heynckes last month and has introduced a 4-1-4-1 formation, which the Bavarian giants are still adapting to.

France winger Franck Ribery has described the new system as “pretty strange, totally different from what we’re used to” and Bayern have used it in winning all six of their pre-season friendlies, albeit against low-level opposition.

“The players are intelligent, they won three titles last season, but it takes time to bring in a new system,” said Guardiola, whose side also beat regional Bavarian side SG Sonnenhof 6-0 on Saturday. “The second half wasn’t so good, but we have some big tests ahead of us, especially with the BVB [Borussia Dortmund] final and the start of the Bundesliga.”

Bayern play Dortmund in the Super Cup on July 27 with the Bundesliga to resume on Aug. 9, while Guardiola’s team also play in a four-team tournament, which includes Dortmund, in Moenchengladbach next weekend.

Guardiola is still missing several stars, including Brazil’s Dante, Germany midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Goetze, plus Spain’s Javi Martinez, who are either recovering from injury or resting after FIFA Confederations Cup duty.

Against cash-strapped Rostock, who took the entire gate revenue to help them recover from near bankruptcy last season, Bayern captain Philipp Lahm found himself switched from his customary rightback into the midfield.

He reverted back to defense in the second half having put the Champions League winners ahead from a Ribery cross on 20 minutes, before the Frenchman added the second five minutes later.

Bayern labored to threaten the Rostock goal, before Thomas Mueller added the third 15 minutes from time and Mario Mandzukic scored the fourth with two minutes remaining.

Meanwhile, the European champions have strengthened their midfield by agreeing to buy sought-after Spain under-21 international Thiago Alcantara from Barcelona for a fee of 25 million euros (US$32.6 million).

Thiago, 22, who will join up with former Barca coach Guardiola, will have a medical before signing a four-year contract, Bayern said on their Web site on Sunday.

Barca also confirmed the deal, which it said included a friendly between the two clubs sometime in the next four years.

Bayern said 5 million euros of the transfer fee would come partly from income from the match and partly from Thiago agreeing to forgo some wages.

“Thiago Alcantara was the great wish of our new coach Pep Guardiola,” Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. “We are delighted that we have been able to seal this great transfer. He is a fantastic player with great promise who will strengthen FC Bayern.”

A graduate of Barca’s youth academy, Thiago was seen as a possible successor to Xavi in central midfield, but media reports said he was frustrated at a lack of playing time and he attracted the attention of several of Europe’s wealthiest clubs.

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