Ask the Opposition

Ask the Opposition 28 – Bayern Munich (pre-season)

Pep Guardiola has created a huge buzz at Manchester City and he hasn’t even taken charge of a single game yet! That changes on Wednesday when City face his former side Bayern Munich. Bayern began their own pre-season campaign with an exciting 4-3 win over Lippstadt 08 on Saturday, a match in which they were 4-0 up before the Oberliga Westfalen side almost completed a incredible comeback.

We caught up with Michel Munger, a Canadian expat living in Germany, and editor-in-chief of Bayern Central, to hear his thoughts on Pep, Carlo Ancelotti, and the upcoming friendly.

The big storyline of this friendly will be Pep Guardiola’s quick return to Munich for his first game as City boss. How is Pep perceived over there after his three-year stint?

The fan base is highly divided on Pep’s legacy. Jupp Heynckes left after winning a historic treble in 2013 and the team seemed to be as physically and tactically complete as possible.

Pep made many style changes and he brought a few players in. He experimented with the tactics and it did not always play out well. Couple that with the super high expectations, due to his reputation, and to the quality of the squad. Numerous fans were disappointed with the Champions League semis losses. Quite a few were quick to blame Guardiola for anything that went wrong with the team, from big-game losses to the doctor’s departure – even when the coach made the right calls.

On the other hand, we also saw fans who were extremely vocal about their support for Pep during his tenure. Some were so rabid they couldn’t even bring themselves to admit obvious mistakes, for example not starting Thomas Müller in a big game.

Long story short: the fan base has been bitterly divided for three seasons. I am glad that Pep is gone if only for that reason. It’s nice to talk about football without this dynamic.

Carlo Ancelotti is a hugely respected manager and a big coup for Bayern. Are you happy with his appointment or would you have preferred a Bundesliga coach after Pep?

I called for Ancelotti’s appointment, so you can easily guess where I stand! He is much calmer, known for making the relationship with his players the first priority, and prone to adapting tactics to the strengths of the squad. The flexibility is welcome after the yelling, gesticulating football philosopher who said “my way or the highway”.

Many of City’s big names will be missing on Wednesday. No Agüero, Kompany, De Bruyne or Silva, just to name a few. How many of Bayern’s stars can we expect to see?

You will see many names such as Philipp Lahm and Franck Ribéry, but keep in mind that the recent Euro and Copa shortened the squad. Missing will be Manuel Neuer, Jérôme Boateng, Mats Hummels, David Alaba, Thomas Müller, Arturo Vidal, Renato Sanches, Kingsley Coman, Mario Götze and Robert Lewandowski.

Bayern have an unbelievable squad and it’s hard to improve it much. But if you could add one player from Manchester City, who would it be?

Sergio Agüero because we only have one striker in Lewandowski. An injury at that position would greatly hurt Bayern’s prospects down the road. However, Agüero said he would stay at City until they win the Champions League. So, I am not expecting him to be available anytime soon. 🙂

Finally, do you think Borussia Dortmund stand ANY chance of challenging Bayern this coming season, even if they do finalise deals for Götze and Schürrle?

The honest answer is “we don’t know that yet”. Their team has changed with numerous transfers and we have to wait to see if Thomas Tuchel can make his new squad gel. However, counting them out would be ridiculous. They stayed close to Bayern last season, mostly by improving Jürgen Klopp’s team, and Tuchel is extremely competent.

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