The Pep Episodes XXIV

In this edition of the Pep Episodes: “He can create a team by mail” – Bayern surprisingly struggled against Ingolstadt, but thanks to Guardiola’s piece of paper, they managed to win.

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 are created by Alex Truica and originally published at Grup14.com.

It’s common knowledge that Pep Guardiola changes his tactics several times during a game, but never before was it illustrated that well. Bayern struggled for about 60 minutes against the unknown club Ingolstadt, who played gutsy, pressed early and caused the German Champions several problems. It was Manuel Neuer who kept Bayern in play. After an hour, Guardiola called captain Philipp Lahm to the sidelines, giving him a piece of paper with instructions. Funnily, Lahm showed the note to some of his teammates, apparently the switched tactics and positions. Five minutes later, Lewandowski scored the opener, and after 75 minutes, it was Lahm himself who sealed the 2-0 win. Guardiola’s paper changed the game in a before and after. His note did the trick, but what was it all about? Which instructions did he write down?

“The coach told me that I should score – and preferably with my left foot. And as I’m a model professional I did exactly that,” Lahm joked afterwards, he didn’t want to reveal the content. “There were some things on there that I won’t make public, but everyone could see the way we were playing before then and how we were tactically a bit different afterwards,” the Captain added. “It was one of the metamorphoses only Guardiola asks of his team”, Süddeutsche Zeitung noted, while the Catalan admitted he switched some positions on the pitch, no big deal. But there have been to many changes to yell at his players on the field: “It’s easier if a player communicates that on the pitch, Lahm is smart enough,” Guardiola said. “He can create a team by mail”, went the eulogy of Süddeutsche Zeitung, while “Die Welt” said he “gave away love letters”. Now, they are top of the table over christmas for the fifth time in a row, that’s a new Bundesliga record. But the Bavarians didn’t care much about being autumn champions – and they couldn’t even think about it for long.

The next game is ahead, on Tuesday they play in the German Cup against Darmstadt. And they have seen who they’ll face in the round of last 16 in the Champions League – Juventus Turin. Surely not an easy clash. “We play against last year’s finalist, against one of the best teams in Europe”, Guardiola said, “they have the level of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern and they dominated Italy in the last couple of years.” Guardiola praised “the huge mentality” of Juve, “they always want to win, win, win. It will be some crazy games, I’m looking forward to returning to Italy.” If his team should struggle against Juventus, he’ll surely have a pen and a piece of paper in hand.

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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