• @CSportsFootball

Pep gets it horribly wrong at Anfield..but has this happened before to Guardiola?

We sat down with @michelmunger from Bayerncentral.com to break down what went wrong for Pep and whether it's the first time Pep has fallen short in Europe....

Many of the things that went wrong with his tactics in Champions League semi-final games at Bayern during his three-year tenure. Pep is a hardheaded coach has a clearly defined vision: a game of position (Juego de Posición) and control. Back when he was invited to detail his philosophy in Munich, he said that the "Pep Bayern" was bad without the ball, so it needed to have it as much as possible. That philosophy leads to a high possession rate, with the coach pushing his players to build from the back and go forward. This includes having a high line of defense that becomes vulnerable to counterattacks. Watch the first Liverpool goal one more time. Pace and a strong vertical pass exposed Manchester City. Defensive chaos ensued and Liverpool scored. To Bayern fans, this is nothing but a replay. Their high line of defense was exposed in the same fashion by elite European opponents.

Pep's thirst for control also led him to start Ilkay Gündogan instead of Raheem Sterling on Wednesday night. As a result, his midfield was able to circulate the ball, but the team unable to score.

Are Pep's tactics a long-lasting problem in the Champions League?

I think so. I could easily distinguish, on Wednesday night, recurring problems that I described above. Guardiola's philosophy was new when he was at the helm at FC Barcelona but his tactics are widely known by now. Surely Jürgen Klopp planned for that match with the same knowledge in mind. As the kind of coach who believes in counterpressing and has won against Guardiola with that system, he knew what he was doing.

Your worst enemy in Champions League football is presenting the same weaknesses than you have in the past. A coach can afford to win domestically thanks to a gulf in class between teams. Pep's Bayern did it in the past and Pep's Manchester City does it today. Europe, however, doesn't forgive and forget patterns.

Why do some Bayern fans not regard Pep as highly as others?

Remember the state of affairs in the summer of 2013. Jupp Heynckes left Guardiola the keys of a highly efficient and polished team. Bayern were dominant in every phase of the game. They beat opponents with possession and attacking, of course, but they also smashed FC Barcelona by having less of the ball and hitting hard after regaining it. I like to that call meaningful possession.

There is no such thing as perfection in sports, but Bayern were a complete team. Guardiola came in, overhauled the tactics with his philosophy, sent Javi Martínez back to the central defense, brought Philipp Lahm to the midfield, and bought in a few players he liked. That ruffled feathers.

Guardiola's early successes shut many of us up, but the pitchforks came out when the team lost form in the business end of the season and got demolished by Real Madrid in the Champions League. Why attack aggressively against a team that countered in murderous fashion? How about a little flexibility to adapt to the opponent and win, even if you lose style points?

Guardiola enjoyed plenty of success and has developed players, but he kept making tactical mistakes when the stakes were high during his three-year stint. He did not seem to have a Plan B when Plan A did not work. I am also among those who felt that he was not the best cultural fit at Bayern. That is a very intangible feeling fuelled by an apparent reluctance to embrace the club and its traditions, to making overly generous compliments about a player who was deservedly, but embarrassingly, pulled out of a game. Who didn't bristle when hearing that Guardiola wanted to have "1000 Dantes" in his team? Sometimes it felt like half the players in the squad were the best he had ever coached. The criticism naturally offended Pep's vocal followers, including FC Barcelona fans. Many Bayern supporters have been fans for long enough and know their club well enough to spot a guy who isn't "one of us".

85 views0 comments