Excitement was an understatement for all Bayern Munich fans; including myself, across the globe once they found out Barcelona’s magician and tiki-taka creator Pep Guardiola was going to replace Jupp Heynckes as coach in the 2013/14 season. After winning the treble last year and destroying every team that came their way; including Barcelona 7-0 over 2 legs in the Champions League semi-final, it appeared as if Guardiola was going to create a Bayern 2.0.
But instead, he has turned last seasons champions into a team that can barely stand on their own feet at times. Guardiola’s football tactics are now being scrutinized after his team’s 4-0 defeat against Real Madrid in the 2nd leg of the Champions League semi-finals in Munich last week. “Tiki-taka” was a remarkable style of play that transformed Barcelona into a powerhouse of the football world. They were very successful, until teams figured out how to get around the ‘tiki-taka’ way of life.
After Guardiola left the Camp Nou in 2012, Barca became one-dimensional, predictable, even boring; just like Bayern in the last couple of months. This wasn’t supposed to happen. They weren’t supposed to get defeated by Madrid, they weren’t supposed to struggle against Manchester United, or concede any goals in the Bundesliga. They were supposed to win it all again, at an even higher level.
But instead, Pep has taken them backwards. It’s normal of course, for a coach to struggle his first year at a club. But strangely enough Guardiola has not seemed to improve and evolve, something I for one didn’t expect. Being a huge fan of Pep in the beginning of the season, I even went to his first team training with the squad in Munich in July. I was excited to see what the lively Spaniard had to bring to Bayern.
But there is clearly a problem in the way the team is set up and playing that has made them lose their spark, and Guardiola just doesn’t seem to understand that. He wants them to play like Barcelona in 2011, with fluidity and creating as many chances up front as possible, but completely ignoring the defence. This is an important factor in Barcelona’s crash in 2012, and Bayern’s current flop.
Guardiola’s constant tactical switches have seemed to become too clever for his own good and his obsession with possession has become predictable and easily criticised. In accepting blame for the embarrassing defeat against Madrid, Guardiola insisted he would stick by his possession game, despite it not working as well as it used to. If Guardiola doesn’t change his ways for next season, his future in Munich could be up for debate.
Jupp Heynckes didn’t win anything his first year with the Bavarians, so who’s to say Guardiola won’t win it all next season? It will all depend on him and his ideas for the team, which will have to change if he wants to stay with the Bavarians. Bayern have already won the Bundesliga in record-breaking time and with a DFB-Pokal final against bitter rivals Borussia Dortmund to come, Guardiola could still claim a double for his first season with the Bavarians. Whilst not total success perhaps, it would go a long way to deflecting his critics’ jibes.