Bayern Munich suffered a narrow defeat against Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final clash on Wednesday night at the Vicente Calderon, and their chances of making the final in manager Pep Guardiola’s last season are in jeopardy. For the third year at Bayern, the head coach is struggling to get the best from his side, and it’s perhaps not a coincidence.
Bayern fared better in Europe prior to Guardiola’s arrival
Guardiola took over the German club in controversial circumstances. Predecessor Jupp Heynckes departed in 2013 after having sealed the treble, but there was a feeling that he was forced out of the door to welcome Guardiola to the fold. The Spanish coach was inheriting a side who were European and league champions so he was expected to win a host of major honours in his spell at the Allianz-Arena, but Guardiola’s fallen short in Europe.
Bayern Munich made the final of the Champions League in three of their last four seasons prior to Guardiola’s appointment, but they haven’t made it past the semis since. The ex-Barcelona boss has breezed through the group stages every season, but when the quality in opposition has been elevated in the latter stages Bayern have struggled to maintain their consistency.
Bayern’s results in the latter stages of the Champions League (under Pep Guardiola)
(19/2/14) Last-16: Arsenal 0-2 Bayern Munich
(11/3/14) Last-16: Bayern Munich 1-1 Arsenal
(1/4/14) QF: Manchester United 1-1 Bayern Munich
(9/4/14) QF: Bayern Munich 3-1 Manchester United
(23/4/14) SF: Real Madrid 1-0 Bayern Munich
(29/4/14) SF: Bayern Munich 0-4 Real Madrid
(17/2/15) Last-16: Shakhtar Donetsk 0-0 Bayern Munich
(11/3/15) Last-16: Bayern Munich 7-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
(15/4/15) QF: FC Porto 3-1 Bayern Munich
(21/4/15) QF: Bayern Munich 6-1 FC Porto
(6/5/15) SF: Barcelona 3-0 Bayern Munich
(12/5/15) SF: Bayern Munich 3-2 Barcelona
(23/2/16) Last-16 Juventus 2-2 Bayern Munich
(16/3/16) Last-16: Bayern Munich 4-2 Juventus
(5/4/16) QF: Bayern Munich 1-0 Benfica
(13/4/16) QF: Benfica 2-2 Bayern Munich
(27/4/16) SF: Atletico Madrid 1-0 Bayern Munich
(3/5/16) SF: Bayern Munich TBD Atletico Madrid
Guardiola continues to be outfoxed by opposing managers in Europe
Seven wins from 17 games in the latter stages is a woeful return for a side of Bayern’s standing, and the reasons behind their failure is simple too – Guardiola doesn’t play to the weakness of the opposition but the strength of his side. As a result, when Bayern come up against a side on their level, they struggle to come out on top. This season, their squad is notably deficient compared to the side that won the competition in 2013.
In 2014, Bayern were languid and had an ageing side incapable of matching Real Madrid’s energy levels and pacey threat on the break, ultimately being eliminated in the semis. In 2015, an in-form Barcelona side boasting the best attack on the planet tore Bayern to pieces at the Nou Camp in the semis. And this year, Atletico Madrid scored an individual goal and were defensively resolute to frustrate the Germans, again in the semis.
With home advantage in the second leg, Bayern Munich are 11/4 to win the Champions League, but will they fall short?