In advance of the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against FC Barcelona in Munich this Tuesday, one question stands out: What would be the bigger miracle: Reaching the final in Berlin on June 6 despite a 0-3 loss in the first leg or convincing the Spaniard coach to extend his contract that runs until 2016?
Despite the fact that Bayern would have to score four goals (impossible or not?) against a superior side, it seems far more essential to quickly find out Guardiola’s intentions.
Media reports have thrown Manchester City into the ring as Guardiola’s next club in as soon as summer 2015 but they have been denied by the coach’s entourage. Rumours speak about a gigantic salary for Guardiola of up to 22 million Euros.
But doubts seem to be still alive as Bayern and their coach find themselves in the middle of a crisis after four consecutive defeats (Bundesliga: 0-0 to Bayer Leverkusen, 0-1 vs FC Augsburg, German Cup: 1-3 on penalties, Champions League 0-2 vs Barcelona). The last time it happened was back in 1991.
The 44-year-old Guardiola will soon be faced by Bayern’s plans to re-structure their team in order to make it more competitive.
The Germans will most likely be eliminated from world’s most important club competition at the semi-final stage for the second year in a succession, unsatisfactory for a club with such high expectations.
At present Guardiola’s team appears to be mentally and physically exhausted, as the coach seems to be himself, which leads to the conclusion that new faces are needed.
“It’s going to be an extremely tough task to reach the final, but we’ll still have a go,” said Guardiola. “But even if we are successful we have to talk about the team’s future soon and analyze its structure.”
Installing a new coach (Juergen Klopp/Borussia Dortmund and Lucien Favre/Borussia Moenchengladbach are being touted in the media as possible candidates) to take over a team put together by Guardiola would make even less sense.
It will be interesting to wait for Guardiola’s reaction after being confronted by Bayern’s considerations. From the club’s point of view, Guardiola would have to extend his contract to make the deal worthwhile.
Bayern is anxiously waiting for Guardiola’s answer. The Spaniard and Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge agreed to start talks right after the Bundesliga season finishes on May 23. Rummenigge has often emphasized that the club is keen to for Guardiola to sign a new contract.
For now, Guardiola’s biggest problem is his former club FC Barcelona and the fear of losing the second game as well, which would spark memories of last season’s defeats against Real Madrid when Bayern lost 0-5 on aggregate whereby the Spaniard was blamed for false tactics.
To be eliminated by Barcelona, pundits say, would show that Bayern’s quality does not match the standard wanted and that team and coach are having problems producing performances necessary to win the Champions League.
Guardiola was criticised by former Bayern players like Lothar Matthaeus, Didi Hamann and Stefan Effenberg for changing his team too often and choosing the wrong tactics.
In two years, Guardiola has lost his messiah-like status and comes over as an all over human coach fighting against ordinary daily problems.
Besides the answer about his future, fans around the world are waiting for Pep Guardiola’s answer as how he can induce a miracle against Barcelona. “An early goal would help to do the job, it’s not impossible,” said striker Thomas Muller.
It is expected that Bayern will still try to gain a high percentage of ball possession and try to shut out Barcelona’s outstanding attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez with a four-man defense helped by the holding midfielders.
Guardiola has given up plans to face Barcelona with a back line of three as he did in the first 15 minutes. He was forced to convert to a four-man defense after the original solution was unable to cope.
The only decision Guardiola has to make regarding his line-up for the second leg seems to be the one to choose between Mario Goetze and Bastian Schweinsteiger.