Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola admits that he still holds Roma close to his heart as he prepares to face them tonight.

The Spanish midfielder spent the first half of 2002-2003 campaign in Rome and he revealed his affection for the Giallorossi.

“With this Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, Italy is an extraordinary country,” Guardiola has explained in today’s Press conference.

“I visit [Italy] often, as it is very similar to Catalonia’s culture of doing things.I have wonderful memories of the city and the club, as I lived there with my family. In the summer, I often come if I can. Brescia was also very important, and I learned a lot from Carletto Mazzone.”

“I know how football lives in Rome, with such passion, and it’s why I’m glad to come back here.”

Guardiola then spoke of his admiration for his former team-mate Francesco Totti. “If at age 38, you are playing like this, your passion is undeniable. He’s perfect for Garcia’s style of play.”

“At this age, with all the money he has and having been elected as King of Rome, to continue playing shows his great passion [for the game] because he could easily stay at home.It means that he still loves football, and it’s my satisfaction to see him again. His inspiration doesn’t come without the ball. The Coach makes him play and still have this desire.”

“I hope he continues like this – me being on the bench and him on the field. It’s as it was when I was at Roma as a player!”

Guardiola was equally impressed with their manager Rudi Garcia and complimented their playing style. “Roma will be a difficult challenge for us. Whoever wins does not qualify, as there are still points up for grabs.”

“I’ve always said that this group will be decided at the last hurdle. It will be a great opportunity for us to test our form. I must say that the manner of our victories in the Champions League show that we have to improve a lot, but we are only in October,” the 43-year-old noted.”

“We know that if we don’t put in a great performance tomorrow, it will be difficult to win [the group]. [Roma] have great players and everything to win.I spoke with my players and they’ve been warned. I invite all of you to see a great game against Roma.”

“Rudi Garcia? It is not easy for a foreigner to come to a country and impose his philosophy, but he has pulled that off. I believe that Antonio Conte has done incredibly well with the approach of playing out from the back. Roma also do this, and it is why these two teams are at the top.”

“It’s a joy to watch Roma play, as a spectator. We have watched them not only in the Champions League but also on Saturday in the League against Chievo. I hope not to suffer tomorrow.”

Roma manager Rudi Garcia praised Pep Guardiola but admitted that they have studied Bayern’s Champions League defeat to Real Madrid last year.”He’s one of the best,” the 50-year-old Roma Coach has told today’s pre-match Press conference.

“He did great things with Barcelona and the decision to go to Bayern Munich was a brave one.He showed last year that Barcelona did not only win because of the great players they had on the field, but also because of his coaching.”

We’ve watched a lot of Bayern’s games, both in the League and the Champions League, including the Real Madrid game. It’s the little details that make the difference, it’s about how you adapt to your opponent. My players are intelligent, but you must always have a Plan B in case something goes wrong. Our game must always be about having fun on the pitch, and nothing will change tomorrow.”

“We need to be smart on the pitch and see how things go, but that should be our attitude.”

Garcia admits his side are outsiders but will nevertheless look to upset the German champions. “We’re outsiders, and we know that from the start. We’ve played two good games so far, but we must continue to play well.Tomorrow will be an important game, and I expect a packed-out Stadio Olimpico, after that we’ll see where we stand.”

“We will have our chances, and we’ll have to take advantage of them when we do. Can we beat Bayern? Anything can happen in football. It will be tough, because they’re one of the strongest teams in the world, both in economic terms and on the pitch. But we’ll try to make everything difficult for them and try to get some points.”

“We respect everyone, but we aren’t afraid of anyone.Tomorrow we’re facing a great team, but we have great players and we want to do well with 70,000 people on our side.The important thing is not to play this game as spectators. We hope to come out with a positive result.”

The Frenchman was in no mood to discuss Mehdi Benatia ahead of tomorrow’s reunion at the Olimpico. “I only speak for my team, and Benatia is no longer a Roma player. He isn’t a Roma player anymore, therefore I’m not going to talk about him. I’m only concerned with my players.”