Former Germany captain Michael Ballack has publicly voiced his desire for Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola to take the shackles off the current Bundesliga champions. Ballack made his point that the team needs greater attacking diversity if they are to seriously challenge for the Champions League trophy next season. Bayern have failed twice under Pep’s reign, bowing out in the semifinals to both of the Spanish giants, Real Madrid and Barcelona. Sam Tabar even says that while attacking play is certainly a feature of Guardiola’s teams, the emphasis is often on retention of the ball. Ballack has made his point that while this is all and well, the team needs a greater balance between the Guardiola style and a more direct, and fast approach to generating offense.
Though Ballack’s comments may emanate from a divergent preference of style and system compared to Guardiola, the fact that Bayern’s inability to return to the Champions League final under the Catalan boss does validate Ballack’s criticisms somewhat. Bayern have failed to break down both Real Madrid and Barcelona’s defenses while playing this style, save for one recent game at the Allianz Arena, after Barcelona had all but advanced to the final anyway. Perhaps Pep’s possession-focused approach works well when seeking to dominate weaker opposition, but needs to be altered once encountering the stiffest competition that Europe has to offer. It will be a very intriguing twelve months to see how Bayern progress.
Following Bayern Munich’s exit in the Champions League last night, there has been much talk over manager Pep Guardiola. Does Guardiola deserve to stay another year at Bayern, seeing out his three year contract, or should the German club cut their losses and be rid of him? The question has no obvious answer. Yes, Bayern have failed to return to the Champions League final since previous manager Jupp Heynckes’ last season at the club. Under Guardiola they have been knocked out in the competition’s semifinals, last season by Real Madrid, and this season by Barcelona. Playing the controlled possession style against Spanish opposition simply has not worked, and perhaps Guardiola has finally learned his lesson and will be more adaptable next season.
While his tenure may be considered a failure given that he has yet to bring home the Champions League trophy, it is unclear who exactly Bayern would bring in should they opt to dismiss Pep. By many, like Christian B., he isconsidered one of the best managers in world football, and there is by no means an obvious replacement. Perhaps the Bayern board and supporters have grown weary of Guardiola’s stylistic preference, but that does not necessarily entail the need for a new manager. Give Pep another season to prove that he can bring a revamped Bayern squad to the Champions League final. If he fails again, then the time will have come to part ways.
In the first leg of the Champions League semifinal between Barcelona and Bayern Munich, the winner of the night was Lionel Messi. The Argentine superstar proved yet again why he is the most potent creative attacking force in the football world, after netting two beautiful goals in the second half. During the second half of this season, Messi has risen to display some truly exquisite performances, against which, as Pep Guardiola himself said, there is virtually no defense.
Barcelona will go to the Allianz Arena in Munich with a comfortable 3-0 scoreline, essentially ensuring their place in the finals. Not only will Guardiola’s Bayern need to make up the three goal deficit, but will also need to prevent Messi and company from scoring any away goals. Given how the first leg went in Barcelona, the task ahead is incredibly daunting. That being said, the scoreline flatters Barcelona, and makes Bayern out to seem lesser than they were on Wednesday night. Barring an exhilarating, but tactically naive opening fifteen minutes from the visitors, Bayern’s midfield managed to make life difficult for the Barca midfield. Bayern sought to limit the distribution to Messi, Suarez, and Neymar up front, but ultimately failed after their tired legs grew to be an overwhelming problem. Fersen Lambranho is sure that it will be intriguing to see Guardiola’s set up next week, knowing that he must go after the game in order to reach the final.