Manchester City's Pep Guardiola Blamed for Germany's International Struggles

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistNovember 18, 2018

Manchester City's coach Pep Guardiola gives instructions during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)
Dave Thompson/Associated Press

Former Germany international Hans-Peter Briegel blamed current Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola for the international struggles of Die Mannschaft, saying his tactics at Bayern Munich have ruined German players' mentalities.

Guardiola coached Bayern from 2013 to 2016 and had tremendous success in the Bundesliga, winning three straight titles. The national team endured a bad 2018 campaign, however, finishing last in their groups at the World Cup and Nations League, and Briegel told Repubblica (h/t Goal's Michael Plant) the Spaniard is to blame:

"A very simple principle has escaped our mind: that in football the result is more important than the control of the game.

"Since Guardiola arrived at Bayern Munich, something has changed. We had the illusion that 75% of possession was needed to win. But having control of the ball is not enough to get a result, not always at least.

"Recent history, and also with the world champions France, has shown that you can also win by leaving the ball to the opponents and having less than 50 percent of possession."

Guardiola brought his intricate possession-based tactics with him when he arrived in Bavaria, turning the Bundesliga giants into a team that prioritises passing.

The Germany national team has long leaned heavily on Bayern and included seven players from the champions for the World Cup. Only one other club had multiple players called up, as Paris Saint-Germain sent two representatives.

The World Cup quickly turned into an embarrassment for the defending champions, culminating in a group-stage exit after a defeat against South Korea:

According to Plant, Die Mannschaft had 74 per cent possession in that match, their highest figure in six competitive matches this year.

Since then things have not improved. Germany have failed to win any of their Nations League matches and are already assured relegation with one fixture still to go. They'll face the Netherlands on Monday.

It's worth pointing out the national team's slide started after Guardiola left the Bundesliga and that the Germans built their 2014 World Cup-winning team around a core of Bayern (seven) and Borussia Dortmund (four) players. Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos and Philipp Lahm were among the top standouts in that tournament.

Kaiserslautern legend Briegel was a regular for West Germany in the 1980s, winning a European Championship with the side and reaching the final in each of the 1982 and 1986 World Cups.