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Atletico Madrid vs. Bayern Munich: Q&A with a Bayern Munich expert to help us figure out Guardiola's side

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We caught up with Bavarian Football Works to find out how to beat Bayern Munich

Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Pep Guardiola returns to Spain to face Diego Simeone's side in the Champions League semi-final. We have only seen the two men face off three times while the two men were in charge of Barcelona and Atletico Madrid and Guardiola holds the edge with three wins and a 10-1 aggregate during those contests.

The two teams and the two men have evolved and we caught up with Ryan Cowper from Bavarian Football Works to find out just what Atletico need to do to beat the Bundesliga Champions.

There is a perception that Bayern tend to be very open when they push forward. How true is this and how can Atletico capitalise on Bayern's willingness to go forward?

Atletico Madrid fan's will be well versed with how Pep Guardiola teams operate going forward. Just like Pep Guardiola's Barcelona sides, Bayern Munich are heavily reliant on how their fullbacks push forward to support the wide attacking midfielders. But where Guardiola's tactics differ is how he pushes both Philipp Lahm and David Alaba into midfield. He has created a true team of midfielders that are equally adept at bringing massive numbers to bear in the middle as well as wide.

Thomas Muller plays in a hybrid position and it unorthodox, to say the least. How do Atletico defend against him and how badly can he hurt them?

For Atletico's part, they have to retain defensive control of the midfield without having their wide attackers sucked into the middle. They have to exploit the space in behind the Bayern fullbacks when they do press forward and they have to attack before Bayern can bring pressers to bear in transition play.

The best way to defend against Thomas Müller is by denying space. Closing channels before they open is the only way to shut him down and restricting runs before they start is essential. Because even when Thomas Müller hasn't touched the ball for 30 minutes, his runs are still deadly as he frequently pushes and pulls defenders around like toy anchors opening lanes for his teammates.

And even if teams can turn him into a pumpkin for 90 minutes, just like Juventus did in the Round of 16, Thomas Müller is the kind of guy who just needs the momentary switch off, the weirdest bounce, or the tiniest hole and he will find the net. And that's a big reason why Bayern Munich fans absolutely love him.

Bayern have not been challenged fully domestically in the last couple of seasons. How much does that help or hinder their achievements in Europe?

Honestly, the Bundesliga is quite a bit harder than many give it credit for. For every game where Bayern steamrolls Borussia Dortmund 5-1, there is a cage match that Bayern wins just 1-0 against a resilient and aggressive Augsburg or gets totally taken apart by Mainz 05. Yes, they've won the league on the trot for the last three seasons and will likely do so again this season, but the points total belies a league that frequently takes Bayern Munich to the edge in many matches.

From the outside, the league table may seem like a forgone conclusion, but every year Bayern Munich has to fight more often than not to maintain their form. And that's great training for the Champions League.

Finally, how much has the Pep news affected the players, if at all, and how much pressure is on him to win the Champions League in his final year as their manager?

I have no idea. Bayern are still aggressive and they approach every match with intense drive. That being said, I can't imagine that Guardiola's last season isn't having an effect on the players but positive or negative is impossible to tell. This is a tight lipped dressing room.
As for the pressure, given the domestic dominance of the last four seasons many Bayern Munich fans consider anything short of the Champions League title abject failure. Members of the Bayern board have intimated as much that is the expectation this season as well. And it's a completely unfair expectation in my opinion. But it is what it is.