If Pep Guardiola doesn’t win the Champions League this season with Bayern Munich, his time there should rightfully be deemed a failure.
It could be fair to say that even if he does win it, his time there wouldn’t be considered a monumental success.
Guardiola has won everything there is to win at domestic level at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich. As a manager, he has won all of the major club trophies that he has contested in, and Manchester City fans will be hoping that he can bring that level of success to the Etihad Stadium.
However, despite his fantastic record in the Bundesliga, which has seen Bayern win the title twice under their tutelage of the Spaniard, their performances in the Champions League haven’t been as convincing.
The season before Guardiola took over at the Allianz Arena (2012-13), they completed a famous treble under Jupp Heynckes, which included winning the Bundesliga in record time.
In the Spaniards first season in charge of the Bavarians, they set a new record time in winning the domestic title. He brought with him his famous tiki-taka style of play which worked wonders in the league. In Europe though, it didn’t work as well as he hoped.
In a performance that dented Guardiola’s reputation almost beyond repair, Bayern lost 4-0 at home to Real Madrid, who then went on to win the competition.
What makes that result even more startling is the fact that there was just one change in that team to the one that beat Borussia Dortmund in the final a year earlier.
The 2014/15 season saw Bayern launch another assault on the biggest club competition in the world. However, they had to rely heavily on their home form. In the Round of 32, they drew 0-0 with Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine, before dismantling them 7-0 on home soil.
They trailed FC Porto 3-1 going into the second leg of their quarter-final, before thrashing them 6-1 at the Allianz to make it into the last four. They then faced Guardiola’s former club Barcelona, losing 5-3 on aggregate, with a resounding 3-0 defeat at the Nou Camp.
That same season, their main rivals in the league, Dortmund, were plagued with troubles and didn’t mount their usual challenge for the title. Despite this, Bayern were still comfortable winners, but not without a major slip up.
In their first game back after the winter break, they lost 4-1 away at Wolfsburg, their main rivals for the league that season. This was a sign that Guardiola’s side weren’t the unbeatable force that they once were in the Bundesliga.
He is a man who coaches one way – possession football. It’s nice to have a manager with one stand out philosophy, but what if it doesn’t work? At times, the team doesn’t seem to have a Plan B. For example, if a team threw all ten outfield players behind the ball, you might consider playing a slightly more direct style.
At time it’s frustrating to watch. As a fan, you find yourself sitting there urging them to shoot, or cry out for the team to just test the goalkeeper! Anything could happen, a rebound, deflection, you won’t know until you try at least. But when they find themsleves in that position, they continue to pass the ball around try and find an opening.
It might look good, if he doesn’t adapt his style ahead of his move to Manchester City, the reputation he built at Barcelona as one of the greatest tacticians of all time, might soon crumble down around him.