5 Key Questions for Pep Guardiola to Answer at Bayern Munich
Trailing by a single goal from the first leg, the stage looked set for the holders to hit back at the Allianz Arena.
But two goals each for Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo gave Carlo Ancelotti and his Real team a comfortable passage into the final next month.
So what happened to Bayern on Tuesday? Here are five questions Guardiola should address in the aftermath of the game.
Why Were Bayern so Flat?
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Bayern Munich’s defeat to Real Madrid was the lack of urgency about their play.
In part, of course, that was down to the excellence of Real’s tactical approach and the diligence of their defending, but it wasn’t just that.
Far too quickly, Bayern allowed themselves to become distracted by Real’s spoiling, something in evidence as early as the third minute, when Mario Mandzukic went charging over to get involved with a minor
dispute between Franck Ribery and Daniel Carvajal, hinting at something awry in Bayern’s mental preparation.
There had been evidence of a similar tetchiness against Manchester United.
Perhaps having had so much success over the past two seasons, and having strolled to the Bundesliga title this time around, Bayern simply have a sense of entitlement; they have, effectively, forgotten what it is to have to battle for results.
What’s Eating Franck Ribery?
That early contretemps between Ribery and Carvajal was only the first in a number of unsavoury incidents involving the France international, culminating in him slapping the full-back across the face—an incident that would have earned a red card had the Portuguese referee Pedro Proenca seen it.
In a sense, his frustration was understandable—he was hopeless across the two legs.
But more than that, his frustration was so obvious it can only have served both to discourage his own side and to encourage Real.
Has Possession Become Fetishised?
Much of the criticism of Bayern over the two legs has focused on the tactical philosophy, and much of it has been part of an instinctive knee-jerk backlash.
Even many of those who were initially awed by the sight of a team keeping the ball for an eternity began to find the prospect wearisome.
But finding something boring does not mean it is not effective and, more appositely, a couple of off-key performances does not invalidate a philosophy that has had such success over the past five years, both at Barcelona and at Bayern.
The Champions League semi-final between Bayern and Barcelona last season seems to have misled many into thinking that the Bavarian team were a counter-attacking side under Jupp Heynckes. They weren’t.
Bayern played reactive football in those two games, but over the rest of the season, they had more possession than anybody in Europe apart from Barcelona.
Still, for all the guff that has surrounded the issue, the basic the question is worth posing: Against a blanket defence, is it worth taking greater risks?
Is Mario Mandzukic Good Enough?
He is wild, raw and energetic, and there’s no doubt that Mario Mandzukic’s effort in leading the press has helped Bayern at times over the past two seasons.
But he does both have a tendency to lose his cool—witness his crazily pointless red card for Croatia against Iceland in the second leg of the World Cup qualifying play-off as well as his stroppiness in the first half on Tuesday—and he does lack a touch of quality.
With Robert Lewandowski arriving in the summer, the writing was probably on the wall for him anyway, but his performances against Real have surely confirmed he will be on his way.
What Went Wrong with the Set Pieces?
When Barcelona struggled to defend corners and free-kicks, the usual explanation was that they lacked height. That’s not the case with Bayern.
There are those who criticise zonal marking as a matter of course, but the fact is that Sergio Ramos’ first goal came as a result of Thomas Mueller neglecting his duties.
And the Real man's second came after he got between Mario Mandzukic and Dante, although the fact that the ball was flicked on provides some mitigation. Mueller’s negligence, though, was basic.
Is it lack of practice or of application?