Monday 19 March 2018

Heat is on Pep Guardiola and his tactics after Bayern's humiliating rout by Real

Bayern head coach Pep Guardiola watches during the Champions League semi-final second leg
Bayern head coach Pep Guardiola watches during the Champions League semi-final second leg
Cristiano Ronaldo congratulates goalscorer Sergio Ramos during the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg match. Getty Images
Bayern Munich's supporters watch their Champions League semi-final second leg soccer match against Real Madrid in Munich. Reuters.
Bayern Munich coach Josep Guardiola (L) and Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti react during their Champions League semi-final first leg soccer match at Santiago-Bernabeu stadium in Madrid. Photo: REUTERS/Sergio Perez
Real's coach Carlo Ancelotti gestures to his players next to Bayern head coach Pep Guardiola, left, during a first leg semifinal Champions League soccer match between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich
Franck Ribery of Bayern Muenchen is watched by Pepe (R) and Xabi Alonso of Real Madrid (L)
Real Madrid's goalkeeper Iker Casillas and Real Madrid's Portuguese defender Fabio Coentrao catch the ball next to Bayern Munich's Brazilian defender Dante
Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid CF celebrates after scoring Real's 2nd goal from a free kick
Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (R) scores the 0-3 past Bayern Munich's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer
Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (R) scores the 0-3 past Bayern Munich's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer
Real Madrid's players celebrate winning 0-4
Real Madrid's Gareth Bale crosses past Bayern Munich's Jerome Boateng (R) to Cristiano Ronaldo (not pictured)
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates with Gareth Bale (R) after scoring a goal against Bayern Munich
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo (2nd L) celebrates his goal against Bayern Munich with teammates Pepe, Gareth Bale (R) and Karim Benzema (L)
Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos (3rd L) scores his second goal against Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery is challenged by Real Madrid's Xabi Alonso (R)
Real's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring his side's third goal
Real's Cristiano Ronaldo, right, celebrates scoring his side's third goal
Real's Sergio Ramos is congratulated by his teammates Luka Modric and Pepe, from left, as he celebrates scoring his side's second goal
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his goal against Bayern Munich with teammates Pepe (top), Gareth Bale (R) and Sergio Ramos (L)
Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos celebrates with his team mates Luka Modric (2nd L) and Pepe (2nd R) after scoring a second goal

Brian Homewood

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 last night’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.

Bayern looked anything but that last night  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."


Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport