Bayern Munich 2014/15 Season Preview: Pep Focuses on Champions League Title
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.
Star midfielder Toni Kroos was allowed to leave and joined Real Madrid last month. This loss will come back to bite Bayern Munich as the 24-year-old is entering his prime and just had a world-class performance in the World Cup as the playmaker and creative hub for the world champions. Mario Mandzukic left for Atletico Madrid when he was deemed as surplus after Lewandowski officially joined the club. Bayern are on the hunt for at least one more player after Javi Martinez tore suffered an ACL injury during the club’s 2-0 to Borussia Dortmund in the DFL-Supercup, Die Roten also lost to Dortmund last year. Guardiola stated last Saturday that help was on the way.
“We need a new player. We have to react and there are candidates. There are many candidates but only a few who would do for us. With this injury we have a special situation and now we must act. There are still two weeks,” said the 2011 FIFA World Coach of the Year in a press conference before the first round in the DFB-Pokal Cup.
Roma defender Mehdi Benatia is viewed to be their main target but Bayern are rumored to be battling Chelsea and Manchester United for his signature. Many of the five-time European Cup/Champions League winners key players are still getting back in shape after resting from the World Cup but left winger Franck Ribery is finally healthy.
Bayern Munich took the pressure off the gas after they won the Bundesliga early and their form dropped domestically as they lost and drew many games they would normally win. The team paid the consequences by the results that occurred against the reigning Champions League winners Real Madrid. Guardiola must keep his team motivated because even though his side will win the Bundesliga again, the main prize is the Champions League.
Meanwhile, Bayern Munich recorded their first win of the new season with a 4-1 victory over Preussen Munster, in the Germany Cup. However, manager Pep Guardiola has acknowledged his team has more work to achieve full fitness. Watch the video below: