The Pep Episodes XXXVI
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.
Eight more games. The last eight games. Eight games to win it all. Pep Guardiola has, if things go his and Bayern’s way, eight games left to indeed leave a legacy at Bayern. By getting what they have been craving since his arrival, what some even demanded of him: Winning the treble.
It all looks set now. The Bundesliga is only a compulsory task and more or less one win away, the German Cup is one win away since they qualified for the final in Berlin yesterday, and the Champions League final is in their hands too: Facing the mighty Atletico de Madrid, they have the return leg at home, which might prove to be a helpful advantage against Diego Simeone’s fierce men, who eliminated Barcelona in the quarter-final.
If they eliminate Atleti – it will be tough, but since Bayern played Juventus in the round of last 16, they have some experience now in facing a grim, restive, defensive-minded team – the grande finale in Milan would be the eighth and last game of Pep Guardiola’s reign.
Knowing how tough it will be against the Rojiblancos, Guardiola noted after the draw that Atleti threw out Barça twice in the past three years from the Champions League – a sign of their incredible quality: “Barcelona have dominated in the past few years and remain the best team in Europe – but Atletico have been the only team able to beat Barcelona twice. They know what they have to do.” Fighting spirit, passion, a persistent defense – only a few characteristics of the implemented ideas of Diego “Cholo” Simeone, the architect of the new Atleti, which always plays with the spirit of an underdog, partido a partido. “He has a lot of trust in his idea, in his team. The players follow him. He is one of the best in the world,” Guardiola was full of praise about Simeone, adding that under him “Atletico have reached a new level. When you see them play, you think: ‘Wow.’ And when you want to reach the final, you have to beat one of the best teams in the past five seasons.”
When you want to win the German Cup, you might have to beat Borussia Dortmund too, who on this Wednesday will be favourites against Hertha BSC in the other semi-final of the DFB-Pokal. If BVB qualifies, another thrilling final between the by far best two German teams awaits us on the 21st of May.
So even if Bayern, just like in recent weeks, again didn’t overly convince against Werder Bremen on tuesday night (2:0), this time at least they reached the final – at the end of the day it’s all that matters. Even if they needed a little help from the referee: A fairly controversial foul on Alaba, who otherwise would have scored an own goal, denied Bremen the equaliser; and a few minutes later Air Vidal took off in Bremen’s box to win a penalty with a shameless dive. Thomas Müller’s brace pretty much vanished into oblivion afterwards, with all the talk concentrating on Vidal. Pep Guardiola even apologised for the dive after the game, then he continued: “I’m pleased of course [with the result]. It’s going to be a great final in Berlin. I want to thank my players for qualifying for the final and giving me an opportunity to work with them for one extra week.”
He talked about one extra week on top of the Bundesliga campaign, because if Bayern fail to reach the Champions League final, Guardiola has only seven games left as Bayern’s coach. At best, it will be eight. Eight games to prove doubters wrong and leave a legacy at Bayern – not only with beautiful, incredibly dominant possession football, but with a historic treble as well.
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.