The Pep Episodes XXXV

Against Juventus, Pep Guardiola already was “on the ground” and supposedly rescued by his team. In Mario Götze, he has a player who might need some rescue as well.

This article is part of a partnership with Grup 14, an organization dedicated to Futbol Club Barcelona and supporters around the world. The Pep Episodes is created by Alex Truica and originally published at Grup14.com.

He won a big game, but the praise was not for him, but for his team. The German media agreed that it wasn’t Pep Guardiola who won the thrilling, rollercoaster-esque game against Juventus, it was his team and their mentality.

“When Pep was on the ground, his team took responsibility. It reanimated Bayern with passion and two headers (not Tiki Taka),” SportBild even took at Guardiola and his preferred football style (even if it’s not even tiki taka, as Guardiola already clarified in the past). Other German outlets had the same opinion. “Cross, header, goal: Against Juve, Bayern didn’t save themselves with high tech tactics, but with good old Football.”

“After maybe the worst half under Guardiola”, noted Der Spiegel, “Bayern are in the quarterfinals – because of luck and willpower. Not that much because of playing skills and tactical stability,” said Süddeutsche Zeitung and added: “An elimination in the round of last 16: The big failure – even that of Guardiola – was up in the air. But Müller forced the overtime.”

There, Guardiola’s subs Thiago and Coman scored the two goals which granted Bayern a hard fought 4-2 overtime win, but that was just a footnote for many. The most important note was: Guardiola got it wrong again in a crucial game on the biggest European stage. “A long time it didn’t look like Pep and his team had a plan B. For 70 minutes the team was outplayed by Juve’s ambush tactics,” summed up sports magazine kicker. You might imagine how the media would have reacted if Bayern had been eliminated. Against Juventus, they simply got lucky – or forced their luck. Surely not many saw Bayern’s comeback coming after an uninspired performance. “A crazy comeback saves Guardiola’s treble mission. It granted Pep – even without brilliant football – a night of big emotions,” said news agency dpa.

A minimalistic win in Cologne – once again without Mario Götze

In the Bundesliga encounter against 1. FC Köln, the feelings haven’t been exactly good. Tired Bayern beat the home team in a minimalistic way 1-0, “with a lot of routine and even more possession Bayern dutifully fulfilled their stint”, noted Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). An early goal by Lewandowski, and after that they held on to their lead without overstraining themselves. Only three shots on goal prove that.

They rotated a lot at Cologne, but one didn’t play, again: Mario Götze. Not even a couple of minutes. Seeing him sitting on the bench like that was a “picture of misery”, said FAZ, “downgraded to being a background artist”, perceived kicker, “at the current moment you can assume a separation in summer”. BILD’s headline was pretty harsh as always: “Humiliated by Pep, forgotten by the bosses.”

Once again, Guardiola didn’t explain his reasons why he didn’t give Götze any minutes. The Catalan only said: “It was my decision and it was the best solution for Bayern Munich. If we win, I’ve made the right call.” This time, nobody disagreed with Guardiola. When he made two right calls against Juve with his subs, almost nobody recognized it either.

The Pep Episodes is a weekly column about the adventures of Pep Guardiola in Munich exclusively written for Grup14 by Alex Truica, a freelance sports journalist and editor. You can follow him on Twitter.

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