Stefan Bienkowski is an enthusiastic sports writer who specialises in German soccer. As a passionate fan and critic of the Bundesliga, Stefan has wrote for FourFourTwo magazine and corresponded as a featured sports writer for New York Times as well as on tv for STV News' Champions League coverage.
By Mark Doyle
Stefan Effenberg told Goal after Bayern Munich’s 1-0 loss to Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu last week that Pep Guardiola’s “system had reached its limit”. On Tuesday night in Bavaria, it reached its nadir as his European champions were thrashed 4-0 at home by Carlo Ancelotti's men.
After Bayern’s stunning demolition of Manchester Ciy at the Etihad earlier in the season, it appeared as if Guardiola was poised to create Bayern 2.0. Instead, he has turned last season’s treble winners into Barcelona 2012.
The Catalan had claimed after his side’s first-leg defeat in the Spanish capital that he was proud of his players’ performance. He felt that they deserved credit for having a 78 per cent share of possession. It immediately evoked memories of Xavi pathetically clinging to possession stats after Barcelona had been humiliated 7-0 on aggregate by Bayern in the semi-finals of last year’s Champions League. Keeping the ball should be a means to an end. For Xavi and former Barca boss Guardiola, it seems, possession has become the end in itself.
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Serious questions must now be asked of Guardiola’s footballing philosophy. ‘Tika-taka’ was a revolutionary style of play. It transformed Barcelona into one of the most aesthetically pleasing sides the game has ever seen. They were also incredibly successful - until teams worked out how to play against the Blaugrana; how to shut them down, how to isolate Lionel Messi. When Guardiola left Camp Nou in 2012, Barca had become predictable, one-dimensional. Just like Bayern in recent weeks and months.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. After taking over Jupp Heynckes' treble-winners last summer, Guardiola was supposed to take Bayern Munich to the next level. Instead, he has taken them backwards.
And now his CV will come under review. Once again, the role of La Masia in his success at Camp Nou will be highlighted. As will Barca's over-reliance on Messi. The critics will argue that it's easy to stick to one's principles when arguably the greatest player of all time is always there to defend them.
There's also the fact that Guardiola failed embarrassingly during his time at Camp Nou to adequately address Barcelona’s glaring defensive deficiencies.
Worryingly, during his one-year sabbatical, Guardiola does not seem to have improved, developed, evolved. The same failings and flaws are still there. The same oversights are being made. All season long, it has been clear that Bayern are vulnerable in the centre of defence. All season long, they have held a ludicrously high line. Both were brutally exposed by Madrid over the course of 180 excruciating minutes for Bayern fans, who now know how their Barcelona counterparts felt just 12 months ago.
Having already claimed the Bundesliga in record-breaking time, and with a DFB-Pokal final against Borussia Dortmund to come, Guardiola could yet claim a double in his first season in Bavaria. However, as Die Welt made clear on Tuesday morning: “Only the Champions League counts.” Guardiola took over one of the strongest squads the European game has ever seen and Bayern did not just fail to defend their title, they did so spectacularly.
Indeed, the Munich daily Abendzeitung had told Bayern's players "You are the kings!" ahead of Tuesday's meeting with Madrid. The fans had also come to the Allianz Arena expecting to see an inauguration. Instead they experienced humiliation. And Guardiola must take all of the blame for thatHeat is on Pep Guardiola at Bayern after Real rout
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#champions league #pep guardiola #bayern munich #real madrid #football #football news
Bayern Munich's humbling Champions League defeat against Real Madrid will increase the pressure on coach Pep Guardiola to change his methods, which were being questioned even before Tuesday's debacle.
Hailed as the world's best coach when he arrived at the start of the season, Guardiola's constant tactical switches are now seen as too clever for his own good while his side's possession-based football has become predictable and toothless in the eyes of the critics.
Guardiola may have won the Bundesliga with seven matches to spare but domestic honours are seen as little more than an obligation at a club who want to be considered the best in the world.
Guardiola's constant tactical switches are now seen as too clever for his own good while his side's possession-based football has become predictable and toothless. (Reuters)
Bayern looked anything but that on Tuesday as they crashed to a humiliating 4-0 home defeat in their semi-final second leg, ending their dream of becoming the first team to retain the Champions League.
It will be fascinating to see how Bayern respond in the summer transfer window after a night that exposed the shortcomings of the current crop of players.
"Real have a magnificent team at the moment and our limitations have been exposed to a certain extent tonight," said chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. "You get games like these, but we need to hold our nerve.
"Despite the anger you feel welling up inside, I think on days like these you have to stay calm, go home and try to do things better as of tomorrow."
Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer looked insecure and his forays out of his penalty area were so reckless that he at times resembled maverick former Colombia keeper Rene Higuita.
The central defensive pairing of Dante and Jerome Boateng were all at sea, Bastian Schweinsteiger failed to dictate the midfield while Franck Ribery continued a miserable run of form in attack.
Striker Mario Mandzukic spent more time squabbling with his opponents that creating openings and was taken off at halftime. With Robert Lewandowski arriving from Borussia Dortmund in the summer, the Croatian forward's place looks increasingly under jeopardy.
Bayern appear to have lost their way since winning the Bundesliga and Guardiola could be at fault for that as he has chopped and changed the team, making an average of five switches to the starting line-up for every game.
Yet the season is not over for Bayern as they still have the German Cup final against bitter rivals Borussia Dortmund, where defeat would pour more fuel on the fire.
In accepting the blame for the defeat, Guardiola insisted he would stick by his possession game.
"The reason for the defeat is that we didn't do enough with the ball," he said. "I can't change what I feel and what I feel is that we must play with the ball and attack as much as possible."
That would not have made welcome listening to Bayern's plethora of influential former players, led by honorary president Franz Beckenbauer who is fast becoming the leading critic of Guardiola's football.
A quick look at Bayern's recent coaches shows that, for all their much-admired football administration, they are not a club who tolerate failure and Guardiola will be under intense scrutiny next season.
Four years ago, flamboyant Dutchman Louis van Gaal was flavour of the month after leading Bayern to the Bundesliga title and the Champions League final.
Less than one year later he was gone after failing to take on board suggestions from above about team selection and tactics. Uli Hoeness, the club president at the time, complained that Van Gaal was a one-man show who never took any advice.
He was among seven different Bayern coaches to have occupied the hot seat in the last 10 seasons.
Beckenbauer even suggested Bayern would struggle to beat relegation candidates Hamburg SV on Saturday.
"That is the best chance for Hamburg," he said. "If Hamburg don't take this chance, against such a battered team, then they really do belong in the second division."
he draw for the semi–final happened on 11 April. Bayern were drawn against Real Madrid. The first leg took place on 23 April. Real Madrid won 1–0 with a goal from Karim Benzema. Bayern had 15 corners and 705 passes compared to Real Madrid's three corners and 276 passes. Real Madrid had 20% possession in the first half and 37% in the second half. Pep Guardiola lost his first match at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. He was undefeated in his seven previous matches at the stadium. Guardiola was criticized for his tactics in the match. However, Guardiola defennded his tactics. Arjen Robben stated that he "expected more" from Real Madrid. The return leg took place on 29 April. Real Madrid won the second leg 4–0 with two goals from Sergio Ramos and two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo's goals set a new single–season record. His goals brought him to 16 goals in the current Champions League season. Lionel Messi had the previous record with 14 goals during the 2011–12 season. Real Madrid advanced to the Champions League final with a 5–0 aggregate win. This is the first time Real Madrid had won in Munich. They had nine losses and a draw prior to the win. Xabi Alonso picked up a yellow card in the match and is suspended for the final. Guardiola took the blame for the loss. However, Philipp Lahm insisted "it was a collective failure and not the fault of coach Guardiola."[222
Stefan, why not writing about how to pick players for Germany in the World Cup and who should replace the injured players. Who should play in RB and LB (Germany has many problems here) if Lahm play in Defensive MF or who should accompany Schweini if Lahm play in RB? I think is a more relevant and interesting topic to discuss, no?
Wow and Ribery over Pele and Maradona? seriously? He isn't even the best player in Bundesliga. That honor belongs to Lahm.
Is there a reason you only do Bayern articles. Rest of BuLi is criminally ignored.
Really like the Bundesliga articles you and Clark Whitney have been writing? In your opinion how much do you think Mandzuckic would cost Arsenal in a potential January move? Also, how good is ibesevic? Would he be a good alternative to Mandzuckic?
I just want to say that you are a great writer that is all...