How will Guardiola make Bayern Munich play?
Unexpected, surprising? Yes. Crazy, nonsense? Not at all. Although there were rumors of Guardiola being approached by Bayern, media in general thought the English Premier League would be Pep’s next destination mainly for economical and publicity reasons. These reasons ended up not having a big influence on Guardiola’s decision, although he considered going to London or Manchester, and perhaps will coach there in the future.
Then, why Bayern? Guardiola wanted a club where he could find all (or most of) he was looking for, and Bayern and the German league fulfill his requirements.
The Bundesliga is one of the best organized leagues in the world, with good stadiums, a great environment and a great fan base with big attendances. The English Premier League has similar characteristics.
But FC Bayern Munich is a club with history, with traditions, which has enjoyed great success winning 22 league titles and 4 Champions League trophies among other things. A team that has the economical power to acquire top players and a good infrastructure and human resources, starting with its management which is led by two of the club’s legends Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeness. Most of all, Guardiola sees a very competitive squad which, with a few additions, can win everything. His decision makes sense.
What about tactics? Will Guardiola adapt to the fast paced and intense German soccer? Probably not. Will he have Bayern Munich play like Barcelona? He will try, although he may find some mid-point, at least at the beginning. It may be difficult to have the players adapt to his playing style and philosophy when they are used to play something else.
A fact that can definitely play to Guardiola’s advantage is the way the German national team plays nowadays. Coach Joaquim Low has switched from the traditional German style that was fast, with long aerial passes, and a lot of strength and intensity to a style with more short ground passes but with quick runs, that relies more on the skill of the players; a game more elaborated. Since several Bayern players are regulars on the German national team, the adaptation may not be that hard.
Nevertheless, Pep will definitely bring a couple players that are more familiar with his tactics, and the midfield will be key to turn Bayern into a ‘Guardiolesque’ team. Many would think in Barcelona as natural source for signings, but most of Barça’s key players have long term contracts and are very attached to the club, so Pep will have to look somewhere else.
Manchester City’s David Silva would be a great match since he’s been with the Spanish national team that plays a similar style to Guardiola’s. Silva has the quality to carry a team on his back and be the mastermind of the attack, and could be make a good pairing with the great Thomas Muller.
Upfront, Bayern’s main guy is Mario Gomez, a pure striker that relies more on strength and power than skill. Guardiola normally doesn’t play with a player with such characteristics, and it will be interesting to see how he uses him. One thing certain is that Mario Gomez will not play as a ‘false nine,’ a figure used heavily by the Catalan coach at Barcelona.
David Villa, who is not enjoying much playing time at Barça, is an attacker that understands Guardiola´s principles, and could be a good fit for Pep’s Bayern, if his situation in Spain doesn’t change.
Guardiola’s surprising move to Germany will undoubtedly put the Bundesliga at a higher level, perhaps where it deserves to be, and will create great expectation among soccer fans and professionals who are willing to see if Pep can bring the same success to a team that is very similar to Barcelona in its structure and organization but very different in its playing philosophy.