Is it fair to judge Pep Guardiola's time with Bayern Munich by his shortcomings in the Champions League?

The German champions crashed out of the competition at the semi-final stage for the third consecutive year

Pep Guardiola cut a forlorn figure last night after the final whistle. For the third consecutive year, he was dumped out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage. The vultures were beginning to circle.

Rewind to the start of the season and he was the hottest property on the market. His announcement that he would be leaving Bayern Munich at the end of the season put Europe's elite on alert. 'If we're going to get him, it has to be now' was the message. And Manchester City did just that.

And, in all honesty, it's easy to see why. Fans of the Bavarian club welcomed him to Munich in 2013 following the success of Jupp Heynckes, who won the club’s first-ever major treble in 2012-13.

Guardiola had all but ruled Spain before leaving Barcelona. Three successive league titles between 2008 and 2012 was telling of the squad he had inherited and slowly cultivated. Difficult perhaps, it would have been, not to succeed in a team containing Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi.

Two Champions League trophies in 2008–09 and 2010–11, both coming against Manchester United in spectacular fashion, consolidated his reputation as the world's greatest coach.

So should his shortcomings on club football's biggest stage define his time with the German giants? Furthermore, has his time with Bayern Munich given way to any doubts as his ability to work with the best teams in the world?

We should not forget, getting to the Champions League semi-final is no mean feat. Even this year, Bayern came through an exhilarating quarter-final against last year's finalists Juventus to get that far.

On the previous two occasions they were beaten in the semi-finals by the eventual winners of the competition: Real Madrid in 2014 and Barcelona in 2015. Last year's Barcelona team beat them on the way to a second treble success in their history and gave a platform for some of Lionel Messi's greatest performances for the Catalan giants, none more so than against Bayern Munich at the Nou Camp last Spring.

Using similar tactics that Barcelona use now under Luis Enrique, none more so than multiple triangles, he has helped change the paying style of Bayern Munich. 

Barcelona operate in many different triangles to offer outlets to the midfielders. Image Credit: Liviu Bird, Sports Illustrated

 

Guardiola has worked tirelessly to add another dimension to the team, developing the role of Philip Lahm a footballer who he claims is the "most intelligent" he has ever worked with.

"It was my aim to achieve this [Champions League success]," Guardiola told reporters after last night's Champions League exit .

"At Barcelona, everyone asked me this question and it has been the same thing here. We have tried our best but it hasn’t worked out. In terms of my period here, it’s up to you what you want to think.

"I think I have helped the players here. I am very satisfied with the performances. Maybe it wasn’t enough but in the end, I am satisfied with everything that has happened here. Everything is good. I have done my best. The players know that.

"I have given my life for this club, from the first minute to the last and we played well tonight. Maybe we played not so well at other times.

"I am very proud. It was a real honour to train these players. I have really enjoyed it here and I am sure the future at Bayern Munich is perfect with these players."

Atletico Madrid could perhaps been seen as favourites for the tournament after their victory last night, in the last two rounds they have dispatched of two of the tournaments strongest teams. Bayern will have to settle for a third successive league title under Guardiola (should they avoid a slip in their final two games) and a second DFB-Pokal (German Cup) when they face Borussia Dortmund on May 21.

Guardiola set the record for highest number of games remaining (7) when he won the league in his first season in charge and in the same season picked up the highest number of points in the opening half of a season in the Bundesliga. He was one point shy of the all time total points record.

Some may question the quality of opposition in Germany and Bayern's monopoly of the league, but achievements like this do not come easily. Whatever his shortcomings at a European level with Bayern, his reputation as one of the greatest managers in European football should not be tarnished.

 

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