Bayern pays the price for Guardiola’s poor tactical choices

Make no mistake, this Bayern team is capable of beating any team in the world. But Real Madrid are not any team in the world and you can’t beat them sleepwalking and hamstrung. You need to be well prepared and take your chances. Poor tactical choices made by coach Guardiola meant Bayern never had a fighting chance.

Bayern neither have the speed nor the organization among their back-four to maintain such a high line of defense deployed against counter-attacking monsters Bale-Benzema-Cristiano. But that is, in a way, beside the point. Even before BBC could thread a few strings of their marauding runs at lightning speed, Bayern were done and dusted. Buried by two powerful headers, from set-pieces, by Sergio Ramos. Ramos has this ability to take any high-octane tie on its throat by imposing himself. Mostly by making some rash fouls but sometimes carrying his team across the line all by himself – by scoring his rare goals from set-pieces. Tonight, he scored twice from set pieces – rarest among the rare. Set-pieces have always been a glaring, gaping hole in Guardiola’s teams.

This Bayern team needs a completely new set of centerbacks and a rethink of strategy when they play big teams. When a team boasts Robben, Ribery, Mandzukic, Muller, Kroos, Schweinsteigern and Lahm on the pitch and cannot score a single goal over 180 minutes, and get thrashed 5-0, something should be fundamentally wrong. Also, the decision not to start Mario Gotze, who is more creative and had the best chance to score in the first leg in the few minutes he played, was a risk that ultimately didn’t pay. Guardiola has a lot to answer.

Pep Guardiola is making this Bayern team the laughing stock of world football. Bayern heirarchy should be thinking what is wrong with this team?

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Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich, 11th March 2014.

A hero is the one who rises at a moment of crisis. A true hero is the one who ensures that a moment of crisis doesn’t arise in the first place. Arsene Wenger is a true hero and he needs no proof than the fact that he assembled the Invincibles in the 2000’s. But even for Arsene, replicating his own success is proving to be impossible. All his birds seem to fly out of the coop at the break of adulthood.

It was quite painful to see time and again, in the first half, that the ball had to be passed back to Fabianski and lost away with no sense of direction by Arsenal. Arsenal were afraid to try and pass it back up, when they had the ball. A few more services to Oxlade could have tested the Bayern defense more. Arsenal clearly wanted to play just for 45 minutes in the second half and try and kill Bayern quickly before they can get alert and lay siege to the Arsenal box. The team still needs to work on improving the work rate and pressing hard.

Podolski may have dips in his general form, but when the occasion beckons a superlative performance, he is still able to dust off the rustiness and marshall the team around. He badly needed support. It is a pity that key absences (due to injury) ensured Arsenal would never really pop the question to Bayern. It was just hope against all odds. Other specific players to impress were Oxlade Chamberlain and Fabianski.

This Bayern Munich doesn’t resemble, even remotely, to the all-conquering team bandied about by all and sundry. The Champions League is very much open this year. This team would struggle to pass muster against Atleti, a team designed to snuff out such excesses as ‘meaningful’ possession. Dante’s foul on Oxlade was pure desperation. It is a pity someone was behind or he would have seen red rather than yellow. Looking at some of Oxlade’s other runs through the Bayern back four, there could have been a lot more in that run (brutally and intentionally stopped by Dante by a kick on the shin).

The less said about Robben the better. With every passing day he seems to be intent on rubbishing his reputation. Bayern are doing well and there is no reason for sly dives and underarm tactics. It should be in his blood! I have this nagging question in my mind. What will Robben’s own family think about him every time he dives to try and draw a foul or a penalty? Will they think that this guy could cheat them (although they are family) when there is a moment of crisis? What would his own children think of him when they see him dive? Isn’t he ashamed of what stares back at him when he looks in a mirror? Does he now realise why people don’t even utter his name in the same sentence with real sportsmen like Messi (forgive this sentence for uttering both the names)?

This Bayern team has miles to go before winning the CL this year. On the evidence of this performance, it doesn’t look all rosy.