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Apr 24, 2014

Bayern's 'predictable' tactics slammed

FC's Craig Burley explains why Bayern Munich might have lost a bit of their edge coming down the stretch.

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola has come in for plenty of criticism for his tactics in the Champions League defeat at Real Madrid, while club chief Matthias Sammer admitted the European champions need to add end product to their dominant possession.

Hunter: Lahm switch a failed experiment
Delaney: So many passes, never the right one
Train: Real stunt Bayern's possession ploy
Schaaf: Champions didn't play like it

Bayern had 72 percent of the possession in the 1-0 defeat in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal at the Bernabeu on Wednesday, but fell to Karim Benzema's 19th-minute goal for the Spanish side.

Guardiola's side found it difficult to get into dangerous positions, with their best chance by Mario Goetze coming just six minutes from time.

By that point, Real Madrid could have been two or three goals to the good, with Cristiano Ronaldo in particular failing to convert good opportunities for Los Blancos.

"We’ve lost 1-0. That’s a fact," Bayern sporting director Sammer told reporters after the match. "We were dominant and controlled the play, but not the result.

"I don’t think any Bayern team has ever been so dominant here at the Bernabeu. But we have to turn it round in the return, we need ruthless finishing, and we need the crowd behind us. We can do it."

Sueddeutsche Zeitung criticised Bayern's
Sueddeutsche Zeitung criticised Bayern's "paralysing greed for possession."

Since clinching the Bundesliga in record time at the end of March, Bayern have only won one of their subsequent four league matches. Despite also progressing into the last four in Europe and reaching the DFB-Pokal final in that time, Bayern and, in particular, Guardiola were heavily criticised by German media on Thursday.

"Pep, that’s how you’ll blow your Treble dream," tabloid Bild headlined, and referred to Guardiola’s first ever loss at the Bernabeu as a coach as a "historic defeat."

Meanwhile, Guardiola and his tactics were cited as the main reason for the defeat in the Spanish capital.

"Slow, innocuous, predictable," declared the headline of a Spiegel Online article that focused on the duel between Guardiola and his Real Madrid counterpart, Carlo Ancelotti.

"Real’s bogey team had turned into a toothless tiger," the online outlet of Germany’s biggest news magazine commented. "Now Guardiola is also behind 1-0 in his battle to be the tactical king."

The broadsheet FAZ commented that "for the first time under Guardiola, Bayern are under real pressure" and wondered what exactly led Guardiola to his postmatch statement that he is "more optimistic than before the match" of reaching the final in Lisbon.

"Having failed to score an away goal, Bayern now need to win by a two-goal margin to make their third consecutive Champions League final. But how this can be achieved is the biggest question Guardiola and his players need to answer," the paper wrote.

In a piece headlined "Lahm & Co have no room for ideas," Berliner Zeitung commented that Bayern "are no longer the sovereign of European club football" and moreover that "the giants are in danger of becoming the victim of their own style of play, that leans towards monotony."  

Bayern, Berliner Zeitung said, played "as if Pep Guardiola had not developed a Plan B for the showdown" against Madrid.

Munich-based broadsheet Sueddeutsche Zeitung laid into Bayern's "paralysing greed for possession," and questioned Guardiola’s decision to leave Spain international Javi Martinez on the bench for the match.

SZ asked: "Has the best coach in the world maybe committed a tactical mistake by not starting Javi Martinez? The Spaniard was brought to Bayern to skilfully block fast counter-attacks. And those qualities might have been needed against the probably best counter-attacking team in the world."

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