The Offside Rule’s Bundesliga expert Susie Schaaf looks ahead to how things will change at Bayern Munich in the post-Guardiola era
Pep Guardiola completed his tenure at Bayern Munich with a 4-3 penalty shootout win over Borussia Dortmund in the German Cup final, earning the Catalan manager his second domestic double in a testy, yet dominant, three years in charge.
Now comes the reign of Carlo Ancelotti, and with it comes a completely different coaching philosophy and the hope that Bayern can, once again, hoist the Champions League trophy – the only piece of silverware that Pep was not able to capture.
Guardiola coaches in an intensive, tenacious style, where there is not one thing he isn’t controlling at any particular moment – almost as if he is sat in front of a chess board – whereas Ancelotti is a calmer presence, nudging his players forward with their own sense of autonomy.
Both styles are effective, to be sure, but the latter just might be the perfect balm to soothe the ruffled edges of the former.
But how exactly will Bayern Munich change as the Italian trainer steps up to the helm? It is no secret that Ancelotti enjoys a small squad, so do not be surprised by a small exodus from the club. Often injured and unhappy in Munich, centre-back Medhi Benatia is certain to be leaving, along with fellow centre-half and panic buy Serdar Tasci. Fan favourite Sebastian Rode, not technically sound enough for Guardiola’s needs, will be able to find more playing time elsewhere, while Pierre-Emile Højbjerg will not return from his loan to Schalke 04.
The final parting will be the most bittersweet, with Mario Götze likely to move on to greener pastures. Götze never quite found his feet under Guardiola, having spent a fair amount of time injured or played out of position. Unfortunately for the young German talent, the two spots on the pitch he could comfortably occupy belong to Thiago Alcântara (better defensively) and Thomas Müller (nothing needs to be said here).
Bayern have already completed most of their summer transfer business by picking up young Portuguese talent Renato Sanches from Benfica and Dortmund captain Mats Hummels, and will likely bring in just one more player – a second striker to back up Robert Lewandowski.
Ancelotti seems to be content with the squad he has now, using Rafinha and Juan Bernat as backups to Philipp Lahm and David Alaba, respectively, while slowly phasing out aging wingers Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben with Douglas Costa and Kingsley Coman.
Guardiola constantly used players out of position, but this is unlikely to happen in Ancelotti’s tenure. Natural pivot Javi Martinez spent most of this season at centre-back (with another spell at No. 10 last year) and will return to the centre of the pitch as Xabi Alonso eventually makes way. Alaba and Lahm are likely to no longer feature as centre-back and midfielder, retreating to their previous wingback spots.
Pep’s Juego de Posicion makes way for Ancelotti’s Arrigo Sacchi-esque press, with subtle differences. The former was a study in fluidity (when it was working well) and the latter is a more direct ‘smash and grab’ style – a sort of return to the 2013 iteration of Bayern under treble-winning coach Jupp Heynckes, and one that will be most welcome to legions of FCB supporters.
Is one superior to the other? This is likely not a question to be answered now; only with time and space will people appreciate what Guardiola tried to accomplish in his three years with the club.
Whether you view Guardiola’s time at Bayern a success or a failure, one thing cannot be denied: almost to a man, the players will tell you that he has made them better, more complete. This bodes well for Ancelotti going forward, as he attempts to do what his predecessor could not – return the Champions League trophy to Munich.
Since 2010, Bayern Munich has undergone a revolution from a provincial powerhouse to one of the finest, most successful clubs on the world stage, helped by a series of teachers and trainers.
Louis van Gaal, as a teacher, brought them back to the Champions League final. Heynckes followed that as a trainer, leading the team to ultimate glory. Guardiola reassembled a treble-winning side while revolutionising individual players. And now they take the next step under a quiet leader in Ancelotti.
If this pattern of teachers and trainers continues, the future looks very bright for Bayern Munich.
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