The two-time reigning Bundesliga champions are heading into their upcoming campaign as the heavy favorites to retain the trophy and have a three-peat, which is something the Miami Heat couldn’t do. The real narrative of Die Roten’s season will be if Pep Guardiola can lead them back to being the rulers of Europe.
Guardiola’s first year in Bavaria would be deemed a great success for most clubs around the world as Die Bayern won the Bundesliga in record time on March 25 and finished with the second most points in league history with 90. The 2012-13 team have the record with 91 under Jupp Heynckes. They also repeated as the DFB-Pokal Cup winners but the problem is that they were embarrassed by Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals. Bayern Munich lost on a 5-0 aggregate and the worse defeat came on their own home soil as they were thrashed 4-0 thanks to braces from Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos. They came close to accomplishing their preseason goal of winning a European treble like the year before. Many questioned how long the four-time La Liga Coach of the Year recipient would last in Germany if he failed to win the Champions League again. Fortunately for him, those people’s opinions don’t have an impact on his situation but chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge does. He fully supports the Catalan native.
“Bayern are never going to sack Pep Guardiola. I can even put that in writing for you. We have two perfect years behind us, won eight titles and some of our players have even put the cherry on top with the World Cup. And now we will continue setting records by being better than we’ve ever been after a World Cup,” said the two-time Ballon d’Or winner to the Welt am Sonntag newspaper last month.
The Barcelona icon last year played his side mostly in a 4-1-4-1 with Philipp Lahm reinvented as a holding midfielder but this season the 1992 European Cup winner wants to use a formation that his team’s were highly successful during his playing days. The 3-4-3 formation is his main choice this year, which he learned and played under soccer icon Johan Cruyff as an excellent defensive midfielder during Barcelona’s Dream Team days. The 24-time German League champions have so far signed left-back/left winger Juan Bernat from Valencia, so that David Alaba could potentially play farther up the pitch as a wing-back, striker Robert Lewandowski from hated rival Borussia Dortmund to be their talisman, goalkeeper Pepe Reina from Liverpool (who was on loan last year at Napoli) to be a solid backup for Manuel Neuer and midfielder Sebastian Rode from Eintracht Frankfurt to be a potential starter down the road.