Pep Guardiola: Why He's a Strong Tactical Fit for Bayern Munich
The Pep Guardiola circus is over—he's chosen Bayern Munich.
The current Bundesliga leaders are looking strong with Jupp Heynckes at the helm, but the club hierarchy have snared one of the most in-demand coaches that world football has ever seen, despite sitting nine points clear of nearest challenger, Bayer Leverkusen.
Bayern München (@FCBayern) January 16, 2013
It is a done deal, and Guardiola goes to Munich to build his second dynasty after one year in rest and rehabilitation. Has he made the right choice? Why yes, yes he has.
Bayern Munich is a superb tactical fit for the Spanish tactician, with only the Spanish national team job more suited to the way he likes his team to play.
The only glaring difference between the Barcelona prototype he picked up in 2008 and the current Bayern side is that he hasn't been ingrained in the running of Bayern from an early age.
It should be interesting to see how the details pan out, but at face value, this deal looks like a good choice for both parties.
The summer will bring all sorts of links to current Barcelona players, as media outlets suggest Pep will "raid his former club". The likely links will be David Villa, Pedro and Gerard Pique, but would any paper dare suggest Lionel Messi?
Here's what we can muster in his trademark 4-3-3 shape from the current personnel:
Will it be a false-nine? Will he secure a more nimble, technically refined striker? So many questions, so little answers, but what we do know is this: this team is set up to pass the ball.
Bayern Munich register the second-highest average possession per game with 63 percent—second only to Barcelona—and the large majority of the roster already enjoys controlling games by recycling the ball efficiently.
Javi Martinez, a €40 million summer signing from Athletic Bilbao, will be delighted with the chance to play tiki-taka at domestic level, while Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos, Holger Badstuber and Dante all seem suited to it too.
Schweini averages 69.9 passes per game for die Bayern at the moment, but expect that figure to be closer to 100 this time next year.
The template will take time to form, as it's a radical change in philosophy even for a team like Bayern, but the management's summer transfer moves will be watched closely during the offseason in order to gauge how Guardiola will go about his business.
The question marks
Cast your eyes over the Bayern squad. Do you see any players who might not be suited to the new system?
We can't say for sure what Guardiola will bring, as he varied his tactics every season that he was with Barca, but certain players don't seem to be suited to any footballing principles that he's ever preached.
Arjen Robben is one of those players, for example. He's the last man that you'd expect to track back and one of the last men you'd expect to pass the ball to a teammate in space.That playing style isn't going to do him a lot of favours.
You'd also worry about the striking spot, as Guardiola may have grand ideas that supersede Mario Gomez and Mario Mandzukic's abilities.
Gomez is one of the world's top strikers, but depending on how Guardiola chooses to shape this team, he may no longer prosper in Bavaria.
Franck Ribery picked a good season to improve his attitude and overall game, though, as his newfound work rate and enthusiasm when helping David Alaba should stand him in good stead for the new regime.
This move was a fine choice by both parties. Bayern is a traditionally great club who use their youth system extremely well to hone talent. But they also spend big when it's needed and could secure the high-profile talent that their new manager will no doubt source.
An uneasy summer filled with speculation about Guardiola taking Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique to Munich is all set to happen, and until we're into preseason and witnessing how this team shapes up, there are a lot of unanswered variables which will provide lengthy sources of discussion.
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