Pep Guardiola hails King Totti but warns over complacency

 Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola hailed Francesco Totti`s reign as the "eighth king of Rome" and admitted his side will have to be at their best to beat Roma in their Champions League clash on Tuesday.

AFP| Last Updated: Oct 20, 2014, 23:20 PM IST
Pep Guardiola hails King Totti but warns over complacency

Rome: Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola hailed Francesco Totti`s reign as the "eighth king of Rome" and admitted his side will have to be at their best to beat Roma in their Champions League clash on Tuesday.

Five-time champions Bayern travel to the Italian capital for the first of two consecutive clashes with Rudi Garcia`s on-form Serie A side looking for a third consecutive win in Group E.

But after praising the "passion and longevity" of iconic club captain Totti, Guardiola said Bayern could not make the mistake of understimating Roma in what is expected to be a red-hot Stadio Olimpico clash where 70,000 fans are expected to attend.

"We know tomorrow at the Olimpico we`re going to have to bring our serious game to the table, otherwise we`re not going to win," a relaxed Guardiola told reporters in Rome on Monday.

"We`re up against players like Totti, (Daniele) De Rossi, Gervinho, (Miralem) Pjanic, (Juan) Iturbe .... as well as a very quick central defence. They have some great players."

From that bunch, Guardiola was pressed on the man most want to know about. And Guardiola, who spent six months at the Serie A club in the twilight of his career -- a period in which he was also handed a four-month ban following a positive test for nandrolone -- was only too happy to oblige.

"At 38 years old, what can you say about Totti ? His passion for the game and longevity is legendary," added the Spaniard.

Totti, who is in his 21st season with Roma and recently became, at 38, the oldest scorer in the Champions League when he levelled in a 1-1 draw at Manchester City three weeks ago, is often referred to as the `Emperor of Rome`.

Guardiola added further lustre to that moniker when referring to the seven kings known to have ruled the Eternal City during antiquity.

"With a bank account that is overflowing and everything he has won as the eighth king of Rome, Totti doesn`t need to be playing.

"But he is, and it`s a huge satisfaction for me to see him still playing at such a high level. I`m looking forward to shaking his hand tomorrow."

Bayern have so far recorded back-to-back 1-0 wins over Manchester City and CSKA Moscow and although a win on Tuesday would be a significant step towards the last 16 before Bayern host Roma in a fortnight, Guardiola has called for calm.

"Roma is a difficult challenge for us. I`ve said from the beginning that qualification from this group will go right down to the wire. It`s a tough group," he added.

Bayern went four points clear of Borussia Moenchengladbach in Germany`s Bundesliga thanks to a 6-0 rout of struggling Werder Bremen on Saturday, when Roma cruised to a 3-0 win over Chievo.

The Germans will spend some of their pre-match time on Tuesday in an audience with Pope Francis. But striker Thomas Mueller, who admitted he "is Catholic", said: "It will be a big honour to meet the Pope, but we`re here primarily to play football. We will be totally focused on the game."

Bayern playmaker Arjen Robben, who said "no" when asked if he was Catholic, said both games against Italy`s "best" football side could prove tough.

"Both games against Roma will be interesting, they will give us a chance to see which level we`re at. Roma play the best football in Italy."