Arturo Vidal has told ESPN FC that Bayern Munich should now be considered favourites for the Champions League but said Pep Guardiola’s legacy does not depend on winning the competition.
Guardiola took charge at Bayern after Jupp Heynckes’ side had won the Treble in 2012-13, but the Bundesliga giants have lost to first Real Madrid and then Barcelona in the semifinals over the last two seasons.
They face Atletico Madrid in the last four this time around, while Real Madrid take on Manchester City in the other semifinal, and the 28-year-old, who was part of the Juventus team that lost to Barca in last season’s final, is confident Bayern will go all the way.
“I think Bayern is the favourite, because of the players we have, because of the manager we have, because of what he is doing, because Bayern always gives teams trouble in this stage of the Champions League,” he said. “It’s difficult for any team to win against Bayern.”
Guardiola, who led Barca to the Champions League in 2009 and 2011, will leave for Manchester City when his Bayern deal expires in the summer but Vidal rejected the idea that the success of his time in Germany depends on becoming European champions.
“No, I don’t think it’s like that, because he is a first-class coach, one of the best coaches in the world,” he said. “He already knows what it’s like to win the Champions League — he knows everything about football. But sure, we have a good team and we hope to win the Champions League with Pep.”
However, the Chile international acknowledges that 2014 finalists Atletico will provide tough opposition in the semifinals.
Bayern travel to the Estadio Vicente Calderon on Wednesday for the first leg, and Vidal said: “It’s going to be a very difficult game.
“The truth is that it’s going to be very complicated. They are a very good, physical and strong team, so we will try to be 100 percent focused and try and seize the opportunities they give us and not provide them with any space.”
Bayern showed their credentials when they overcame Juve in the knockout phase of this season’s competition, and Vidal said facing his former teammates was “very tough.”
He added: “It was strange because I played for four years with them. To face them in that situation wasn’t enjoyable, but I had to defend for Bayern and try and do the best I could.”
He said he was made to “feel like a king” by the Juve fans during his time in Turin and that making the transition to Bayern has taken time, even if he had already spent four years in Germany with Bayer Leverkusen earlier in his career.
“Now I’ve come to Bayern it’s different, the people are different, but I’m gradually gaining their affection and I hope to arrive at the same place I was at with Juventus,” he said.
“At first it was a little tough because of the language, and my family and my wife felt a little uncomfortable, but as time has passed we are already feeling much better.”
He said adapting to a different style of football had also been an issue.
“I had to get used to things, I had to adapt to a new team, new players, new colleagues, but I knew that at some point I would feel comfortable and be able to show everyone who I am as a player, like I showed everyone at Juventus,” he said. “That moment has come and I feel much better that things are going well.”
Vidal has been linked with clubs in Spain and England in the past, but he currently has no interest in leaving the Allianz Arena.
“Right now I am happy here,” he said. “I feel comfortable and I hope to continue here.”