Pep Guardiola’s obsession with possession is under scrutiny after Bayern Munich’s title hopes in the Champions League were shredded by Real Madrid.
Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti outfoxed Guardiola over both semifinal legs and his team crushed Bayern 4-0 in Munich on Tuesday to complete a 5-0 aggregate win.
One year ago, Bayern crushed another Spanish giant, Barcelona, 7-0 over two legs en route to an unprecedented club treble – the Champions League, the Bundesliga, and the German Cup.
In Guardiola’s first season in charge, Bayern became the earliest Bundesliga champion but the Champions League title is gone.
The German Cup is still within reach, but Bayern looks a lot less dominant than they did four weeks ago.
Feted until recently as a godsend, Guardiola is under fire.
“Pep Guardiola had to recognise that he perhaps picked a clever, courageous tactic for the two games. But that someone read through it,” wrote Munich’s leading newspaper, Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine wrote that Guardiola’s reputation as “the Messiah of the profession has been dented”.
“In both games against Real, Carlo Ancelotti proved to be a better strategist. Considering both legs, it was a dismantling,” the Frankfurt newspaper added.
It was always going to be tough for Guardiola to repeat the treble, but Bayern looked invincible as it cruised through the Bundesliga, going 53 matches undefeated to lift the title with seven games to spare.
Then, Guardiola made his first mistake.
Declaring the Bundesliga to be “over,” he started playing reserves and Bayern promptly lost, robbing his players of the chance to go through the domestic league season undefeated.
Bayern has lost four games in April, the same as in the previous two years.