- Thiago praises Pep Guardiola's influence.
- The Spaniard predicts a tough tie with Club Atletico de Madrid.
- Bayern taking each game as it comes in treble title tilt
FC Bayern München remain on course for Bundesliga, DFB Cup and UEFA Champions League success, but there is lot of work still left to do to achieve their first treble since the 2012/13 season.
Bayern midfielder Thiago Alcantara looks ahead to the UEFA Champions League semi-final against Club Atletico de Madrid and title run-in in an exclusive bundesliga.com interview.
bundesliga.com: Thiago Alcantara, what is the biggest challenge on the final straight of the season going to be?
Thiago: You've got to treat every game as a final and prepare yourself with that in mind. You've got to be ready, fully focused and at the same time you must try not to forget to enjoy yourself.
bundesliga.com: That sounds like a big challenge for you and Bayern. With a seven-point lead in the Bundesliga, things are looking good there. You're in the final of the DFB Cup and now have a Champions League semi-final against Atletico which people are talking a lot about...
Thiago: We're bidding to win the Bundesliga for a fourth time in a row, which no club has ever achieved. It makes more sense to think about games you have in just a few days or weeks. When the season is drawing to its conclusion, and of course there are titles up for grabs, then that's the only strategy you can have if you want to succeed. Every title's important, the league in particular.
"We can already say that these have been three excellent years"
bundesliga.com: Manuel Neuer has recently extended his contract with Bayern. How important is that message in the final stages of the season?
Thiago: Whether it comes in the final stages of a season or not, it shows above all that we're playing for a club where we all feel very happy. Of course we're delighted that he's going to be staying here for a long time. It's great when you have the best goalkeeper in the world playing for your club.
bundesliga.com: At the end of the season, Pep Guardiola will leave Bayern. Does that have any impact on the team in the final stages of the season, and what legacy will Guardiola leave behind?
Thiago: It's always nice when you win titles together, but what's equally important is developing the team. The Bundesliga's always had a big number of top players, but I think this has increased even more in recent years and Guardiola's played his part in that. He's introduced new tactical things which have prompted other clubs and coaches to do likewise. It's no longer unusual to see teams changing their tactics frequently during matches, for example. While we've not yet reached the end of his time at Bayern, we can already say that these have been three excellent years.
"Atletico are not up where they are by chance - they warrant the whole world's respect"
bundesliga.com: How would you summarise your own time in the Bundesliga?
Thiago: It's a time in which I have matured and grown as a person. I've learnt a new language, integrated in a new country, a new city and a new club. I left my home country and met some spectacular people in a special club. I'm really looking forward to everything that's still to come.
bundesliga.com: Since you watch a lot of games, would you brand Atletico a surprise for being in the semi-finals of the Champions League and still challenging for the title in Spain?
Thiago: A surprise? No, they are not up where they are by chance. Atletico warrant the whole world's respect. They've not been exceptional only this season, they've been doing it for years. They've developed an idea that they've pursued unerringly. Atletico are going to push us to the limit in both legs. They knocked out the Champions League holders Barcelona and are challenging both them and Real Madrid for the Spanish league title.
bundesliga.com: In the past two seasons, Bayern have been knocked out by Real and Barcelona in the semi-finals. What's the feeling going into another tie with Spanish opponents?
Thiago: I don't think it's ever a good idea to concern yourself with the past, that's why I prefer to look forwards. A semi-final is always a challenge, no matter what competition you're in. Maybe there are a few differences to previous years - we're still fighting for the Bundesliga title and are full of energy, for example, and maybe we are more mature as a team.
Interview by Oliver Trust