Bayern coach's tactics too clever for his own good
Bayern Munich's humbling Champions League defeat by Real Madrid will increase the pressure on coach Pep Guardiola to change his methods, which were being questioned even before yesterday morning's (Singapore time) 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 yesterday 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 match 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, 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 former Colombia goalkeeper Rene Higuita.
ALL AT SEA
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.
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 to face bitter-rivals Borussia Dortmund in the German Cup final, where defeat would add 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.
"We lost heavily and we had only a few chances. We played badly and that's my responsibility.
"If you don't play well and you defend set-pieces badly, that's just how it is.
"We are playing at the highest level in Europe, and such mistakes are punished right away."
Things improved after the break when Guardiola moved Schweinsteiger into the attacking midfield with Javi Martinez taking his place alongside Toni Kroos.
"I told the players during the break that I had made a mistake," said the 43-year-old, who is under contract until June 2016.
"We couldn't control the defensive midfield in the first half and didn't put in a good performance, because the coach made a mistake.
"The players ran and tried hard, as they always want to do, but we didn't have the right players in the right positions at the end of the day."
Ancelotti deserves all the credit. He has changed everything. He has changed the mentality of the players.
— Real star Cristiano Ronaldo
I don’t think we played well tactically in the first half. The game was too open. It totally played into their hands.
— Bayern captain Philipp Lahm