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May 10, 2014

Careful, Pep! Bayern boss drops Bundesliga trophy

Bayern Munich sealed their 24th Bundesliga title back in March against Hertha Berlin and finally got their hands on the Meisterschale after an injury-time winner against VfB Stuttgart on Saturday, courtesy of substitute striker Claudio Pizarro.

- Report: Bayern Munich 1-0 VfB Stuttgart

Bayern ended the season on 90 points -- 19 ahead of Borussia Dortmund -- after drawing just three and losing two throughout the 2013-14 Bundesliga campaign.

And Pep Guardiola dropped the trophy. (Isn't that seven years of bad luck, or something?) It wasn't quite Sergio Ramos style, but the slippery Paulaner Weissbier did Guardiola in.

Many Bayern Munich supporters still find Guardiola's tactics questionable, but despite a recent dip in form, they finished with arguably their second-best season in 49 years. Too bad the best campaign was last time out under Jupp Heynckes. Bayern won 29 out of 34 league matches and ended up with a huge goal difference of plus-71 -- although the changing of the managerial guard has still caused some friction.

In the end, though, it's harsh -- perhaps even rash -- to criticise Guardiola for taking a treble-winning side under his wing. He has set about revolutionising Bayern's style of play, making it his own. He is an ideologue, after all, and will certainly need more time and a couple of transfer windows to see his true vision of Bayern. I have criticised his tactics throughout the entire season, and I am still unsure about what he wants to accomplish at the club -- but he needs time.

If the nets were about a foot wider on all sides, Bayern might have ended their season with a Stuttgart slaughter. Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Dante, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Daniel van Buyten all squandered chances to end the league season on a real high. Stuttgart's keeper Sven Ulreich must be given credit, though, for keeping his team in the game with wonderful saves from Mario Mandzukic, David Alaba and Arjen Robben.

The statistics give you a flavour of this match -- 24 Bayern attempts to VfB's eight and 73 percent possession from the home side. It wasn't a particularly bad showing for Bayern -- the team were fluid and controlled -- but they lacked the killer instinct in attack.

Robben was not the hero of the day, as that accolade went to Pizarro for his late goal, but the Dutchman was in fine form and rightly in contention for the Bundesliga player of the year.

What else is left to say about Peruvian international Pizarro?  His 176 goals is by far the record for non-German goalscorers in the league. He's out of contract with Bayern this summer, but with 10 goals this season as a back up to Mandzukic, he should be signed up for another term.

The Torjaegerkanone, sadly, was lost by Mandzukic on the last day to future Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski as he scored a brace against Hertha Berlin in his final Bundesliga match for Dortmund-- ending the scoring charts two up on his rival.

Celebrations and Bierdusche were the order of the day as Bayern made their way through the city to the New Town Hall in Marienplatz after this win. They'll have just one day to revel in their glory before looking forward to Berlin and Dortmund next Saturday for the DFB-Pokal final.

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