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Analysing Bayern Munich’s regression under Pep Guardiola



Another year, another Bundesliga title for Bayern Munich. For the last three seasons, two of those under Spaniard Pep Guardiola, Bayern have dominated the league and cruised to a hat-trick of titles with very little competition. Guardiola has clearly achieved a great deal of success with the Bavarian club. But if you compare his side to that of his predecessor, Jupp Heynckes, it appears that Bayern’s star is waning, and they are actually regressing under Pep.

The most obvious example of Bayern’s lessening success under Guardiola is to look at their Champions League record. Under Heynckes, they claimed a fifth Champions League title, famously thrashing Guardiola’s Barcelona side 7-0 on aggregate in the semi-finals as Bayern took on the mantle of Europe’s number one team. In the following two seasons, though, it has been Bayern who have been on the end of the thrashings in Europe. Real Madrid handed them a 4-0 spanking at the Allianz Arena in last year’s semi-final, and this season Lionel Messi took them apart in a 3-0 triumph for Barcelona at the Nou Camp. Whilst reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League twice in tow seasons is still a fine achievement, the results Bayern have achieved when getting there have been embarrassing to say the least. They used to dish out the thrashings under Heynckes, under Guardiola, they’re taking them.

It is not just Europe where Bayern’s flaws are on show, with some cracks emerging prominently in their domestic league as well. Last season, Guardiola won the Bundesliga with seven games to spare and unbeaten up until that point. Carrying on from Heynckes, Bayern had just lost one game in almost two seasons. In the year since, Bayern have lost seven league games. Whilst the majority of these defeats have come after their coronation as champions, this habit of taking their foot off the gas has led to a loss in momentum, and is one of the main factors for their recent struggles in the latter stages of the Champions League.

Replacing Heynckes with Guardiola has meant that Bayern are now a very consistent side. Bayern’s 2014-15 title has been based on the ability to easily defeat teams that are much worse than they are, dropping just 5 points against the bottom twelve sides in the division, with their defeat at Freiburg coming last weekend, well after their crowning as champions.

However, against the top 6, FC Bayern have struggled massively this season. Were the top 6 split up into their own mini league, Bayern would be bottom. This comes from teams knowing how to face Guardiola. In his days at Barcelona, his tiki-taka football was so fresh and new that nobody knew how to stop. At Bayern, teams have had almost seven seasons to work out Guardiola’s tactics and seen that attacking his sides often reaps rewards. The reason that Bayern have such a strong record against the bottom 12, but such a poor one against the top 6 is down to teams being able to pull of this risky strategy. More opposition managers seem to work out how to beat Guardiola every season, and this is resulting in a weakening of the dominance of Bayern Munich.

This slide is far from terminal for Bayern, though, and some of the blame for the struggles (if you can call it that) for 2014/15 have come from an unfortunate amount of injuries. Arjen Robben, their best player, has missed Bayern’s less than impressive end to the season with a calf problem, whilst other important players such as Javi Martinez and Franck Ribery have also been absent, something keenly felt by Guardiola on big occasions. Had these players been available to Pep, it is unlikely Bayern would have finished the season so poorly.

Although Guardiola has been missing some key names, he still has by far the deepest squad in Germany, and their form should not have been so badly affected. Their squad still contains the bulk of the German world cup winning team, as well as other quality players such as David Alaba, Robert Lewandowski and Xabi Alonso. Their squad, even when depleted is not the problem, but the way Guardiola uses it can be. He continues to deploy Philipp Lahm, probably the world’s best full back, in a wasted central midfield position, whilst leaving David Alaba (an attacking midfielder for Austria) and Rafinha (a thoroughly average right-back) covering Bayern in the full back positions. Furthermore, against Barcelona in the Champions League, Guardiola misjudged his tactics and tried to go man-for-man on their frightening front 3, resulting in them being ripped to shreds. Tactically, Guardiola appears to be making some errors that are resulting in unnecessary defeats for the team.

Overall, Bayern Munich are a worse side under Pep Guardiola than they were under Jupp Heynckes. Better teams have grown used to Guardiola’s style and are able to exploit Bayern by attacking them with pace and power, which is clear to see when looking at Bayern’s results against the top 6 of the Bundesliga. They have been thrashed in the semi-finals of the Champions League in consecutive seasons, much in the same way that Bayern destroyed Barcelona in 2012/13. Guardiola’s Bayern are not as strong as Heynckes’, and are slowly being worked out by the Bundesliga. The continuing improvements of teams such as the functional Wolfsburg and the exciting Borussia Mönchengladbach mean that next season Bayern will face more stringent competition to hold onto their league title, and should they continue to regress, their position as the dominant team in Germany could soon be under threat.

John is a history graduate from the University of Southampton, and will soon be completing a Master's degree in Journalism at Cardiff University

Bayern Munich

Done Deal: Swansea City sign Renato Sanches from Bayern Munich on season-long loan



In a summer transfer window full of crazy and unexpected moves, Swansea City may have just put the icing on top of the cake as the South Wales outfit have secured a deal for Bayern Munich’s Renato Sanches.

Paul Clement has well and truly proved the old cliché ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ and utilised his contacts from his time as the German side’s assistant coach to push a deal through.

Who is Renato Sanches?

The Portuguese midfielder originally made a name for himself coming through the Benfica youth system as child, being signed up in 2006, and since then he moved from Benfica ‘B’ to the first-team.

During his solitary season playing in Portugal he quickly became a key member of their starting eleven, featuring six times in the Champions League, and he alerted the attention of Europe’s elite.

But it was Bayern Munich who secured a lucrative deal for Sanches last summer, setting the Bundesliga side back £27.5 million, and it was thought that he would be the next big young midfielder.

It hasn’t quite worked out like that in the past 12 months though, starting just four league matches all season, and a spell in the Premier League may be what’s needed for him to rejuvenate his career.

What is the deal?

The two sides have come to an agreement – as reported on Swansea’s official website – that sees Sanches arriving on a season-long loan at the Liberty Stadium, completing the necessary paperwork yesterday.

Where will he fit in at the Liberty?

With talisman Gyfli Sigurdsson leaving in a £45 million move to Everton, there’s a distinct lack of attacking prowess in the Swansea City midfield and this is where Sanches is worth his weight in gold.

He is a stereotypical box-to-box midfielder, having excellent technical ability and skills when in possession of the ball and always loking to use his power try drive forward and influence attacks.

And alongside that boss Clement knows that he’ll bring his endless work-rate to the Swans, adding much-needed defensive steel to a somewhat limp current side with his natural tough-tackling play.

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Bayern Munich

How Twitter reacted to Swansea City signing Bayern Munich’s Renato Sanches on loan

Jake Jackman




Swansea City have confirmed the arrival of Renato Sanches on a loan deal from Bayern Munich. Sky Sports report that the Swans will pay a loan fee in excess of £2 million to take the midfielder to the Liberty Stadium for a year. This is a remarkable deal by the club and underlines the contacts that manager Paul Clement has in the game.

The Swansea manager will have worked with the 20-year-old for a short period last season at the Allianz Arena before he took the job in the Premier League. He worked at Bayern Munich as the assistant to Carlo Ancelotti and the Italian has now done his close friend a favour by letting him have one of the most exciting young midfielders on loan for a season.

Bayern Munich want the midfielder to gain regular first-team football as he has now reached a key stage in his development. It was a frustrating first season in the Bundesliga for Sanches and he now gets the opportunity to test himself in another league. The Premier League will suit his physicality and energy in the middle of the park. It won’t have been in his plans to go on loan to a club like Swansea, but he will relish the opportunity to play regularly.

It is thought that Sanches was keen to move to Swansea over other clubs, due to his existing relationship with Clement. He joined Bayern Munich last summer for a fee of £28 million and that shows the standing he has in the European game. It is a huge coup for Swansea and one that will excite the supporters.

Last summer, Sanches was named the Young Player of the Tournament at Euro 2016 as he helped Portugal to win the competition. He showed a maturity beyond his years and established himself as one of the best young midfielders in the game. The last year hasn’t gone as well as he would have hoped, but he now has the opportunity to further his development in England.

Here is how Twitter reacted to the news:

Swansea fans were understandably excited by the signing:

Supporters of other clubs were jealous of the signing:

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Bayern Munich

Chelsea look to Bayern Munich for latest wing-back target – Is a move likely?




As Chelsea prepare for a potentially busy deadline day, German newspaper Bild suggest that one potential arrival could be Bayern Munich full-back Rafinha.

What would Rafinha bring to Stamford Bridge?

One thing that the 31-year-old can offer in abundance is experience. As a winner of the Bundesliga and Champions League with Bayern Munich, he could help the more inexperienced members of Chelsea’s squad as they return to Europe’s elite competition this season.

He also offers versatility. It is most likely that Rafinha will take up a wing-back role if he does move to Stamford Bridge, but Antonio Conte will be keen on the fact that he can play on either flank. He can also play as a central defender if required, and that could encourage Chelsea to make a move for him.

The Brazilian also shares a number of attributes with both Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses. In particular, his impressive range of passing and crossing will appeal and he is a clear threat when bombing down the flank on the attack.

Is a move likely?

Bayern are hugely reluctant to sell their man as Carlo Ancelotti feels that he is a reliable second choice right-back. With Philip Lahm having retired, he has also picked up the reigns as the experienced veteran in the Bayern defence, which carries huge importance on and off the field.

However, it’s not yet clear if the Brazilian is content with such a role. Having played just 23 minutes so far this season, he may be keen to move abroad and have a go at the Premier League as, at his age, it could be his last opportunity to do so.

Chelsea could well pursue a move for him. It’s clear that wing-back is one of their top priorities this summer as they look to add cover and competition for Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses. With only 10 months left on his contract at the Allianz Arena, they could be in a strong negotiating position.

Rafinha to Chelsea
Reader Rating2 Votes0.8
Transfer Likelihood
The Boot Room's Verdict
He may be on a list of Chelsea targets, but it seems unlikely that he would be a priority. With only hours left and Bayern not willing to sell, it seems unlikely.
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