Chivas Guadalajara vs. Bayern Munich: What Pep Guardiola Learned
Bayern Munich edged Chivas Guadalajara 1-0 on Thursday night in a friendly billed as the Audi Football Summit in New York.
The match marked the Bavarians' first test fixture after the return of Xherdan Shaqiri and Julian Green from World Cup duty, although only the former appeared over the course of the 90 minutes. The Switzerland international replaced Claudio Pizarro, the scorer of the game's only goal, on 57 minutes.
Bayern played authoritative football over the course of the 90 minutes and could have put a couple more goals into the Chivas net. Click "Begin Slideshow" for a rundown of the major talking points from Thursday's action.
Pizarro Still Has It
Pizarro's days as a starter are more likely than not approaching an end as more and more of Bayern's younger star players return from their post-World Cup vacations. But the Peruvian can be satisfied with the statement he's made in pre-season.
Despite his advanced years (he will turn 36 in October), Pizarro has put in some good shifts for Bayern in recent weeks. And in Thursday's match, he showed just how valuable he can still be to the team. Although the German giants had plenty of opportunities to score, it was he who nodded in the only goal of the game in the 10th minute. He came close on a couple more occasions in the first half, too.
Sometimes, it's not peak athleticism that can produce a goal but the instincts that exist naturally and are supplemented by experience. Pizarro showed on Thursday that his instincts are still sharp after all these years.
Gaudino May Be More Than Just a Reserve
When Bayern lined up for their first pre-season friendly against Memmingen nearly a month ago, their starting line-up was laden with relatively unknown youth-team players. Pep Guardiola's selection decisions were generally a matter of necessity, with his squad lacking all of its World Cup participants and more.
Since then, more and more established stars have taken their place in the starting line-up. But one youth player has remained: Gianluca Gaudino. The 17-year-old played the full 90 minutes against Chivas in a central midfield role, one he's managed to retain while keeping the prodigious Pierre Hojbjerg out of position on the right wing.
The son of retired Germany international Maurizio Gaudino, the young midfielder made a real statement of his quality against Chivas, pulling the strings with maturity that would be suggestive of a more experienced player. He's past the phase of just being a placeholder; if he continues his progress, Gaudino could indeed get more than a handful of minutes with the senior team this season.
3-4-3 a Challenge to Implement
Even when giving Holger Badstuber a rest and in the absence of Dante and Jerome Boateng, Guardiola opted to stick with a three-man defense in a 3-4-3 formation. Strictly speaking, he had no natural centre-backs on the pitch: Ahead of goalkeeper Tom Starke were a right-back (Rafinha), a holding midfielder (Javi Martinez) and a left-back (David Alaba).
Bayern looked increasingly fatigued later in the game and overall had some difficulty containing the quick and agile Chivas, who perhaps deserved a late equalizer but were denied by Starke.
It must be assumed that Guardiola will use natural centre-backs when they become available, and at that point, Bayern's defense will be substantially bolstered. The problem is, Bayern only have Dante, Boateng and Badstuber as natural centre-backs competing for three spots in the starting line-up. Even adding in Martinez, there is not much room for rotation or coping with injuries or suspensions.
It appears, though, that Guardiola is prepared to take his chances with a three-man back line. The Bayern board has put its full support behind him; we'll soon see whether the risk pays dividends.