Is Wolfsburg among the best or Bayern’s overrated, the question is now

Bayern is one of the most financially powerful clubs in Europe, and if the parameter is only operations of the clubs, leaving out wealth of the owner, then this club is undisputed. Such position gives it commodity in relation to the UEFA rule of financial fair-play and the possibility to create a team they wish. It seems that all of Pep Guardiola’s wishes have come true and that Bayern has an extremely strong team, which should practically walk through Bundesliga, especially having in mind that they directly weakened their main competitor, Borussia Dortmund. The Champions League is a different thing, not only because of much stronger competition, but because of the system of competition where one bad day in the second stage can crush all dreams. Still, some of the events at the beginning of this season are throwing a shadow on estimation of Bayern’s strength in national scopes, even though it is too early to reject them as pretentious.

On their first American tour in the past ten years, Bayern scored only two goals in two matches, conceding the same number of goals but only in one match – defeat 1-2 against team of North-American stars, MLS All-Stars. Guardiola mixed the composition in this match, partly because of the fact that some of the players were exhausted after the end of the World Cup in Brazil. But, if there is an excuse for this defeat, then it is hard to find one in case of easy defeat against Borussia Dortmund in match for the German Supercup. Team from Dortmund was better in all aspects of the game, dominating the entire match, so Pep Guardiola can be satisfied his team was only defeated with a result 0-2. But, that is a bitter pleasure because worry about faint game has to be much bigger. After that match the media looked for an excuse in absence of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, but some even wrote that Dortmund played with a stronger lineup, pushing into the background the fact that Jurgen Klopp sent a team without even eight A-team players to the field: Roman Weidenfeller, Neven Subotić, Mats Hummels, Jakub Błaszczykowski, Nuri Şahin, Kevin Großkreutz, İlkay Gündoğan and Marco Reus. At the same time, two former stars of Borussia Dortmund, Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski appeared for Bayern. Precisely these two players are paradigm of Bayern’s policy in the past two seasons – strengthening their team and weakening their biggest competitor at the same time. Before the beginning of the season, Bayern led a small propaganda campaign, announcing they would bring the third star of Borussia Dortmund, Marco Reus, which is why in the end president of the club from Dortmund, Hans-Joachim Watzke reacted with criticism. Victory in match for the DFL-Supercup was Borussia’s response, and it was a victory of Jurgen Klopp’s chemistry over Bayern’s arrogance. But, it is justified to ask the question where Pep Guardiola was in that story.

Young Spanish coach was a true revelation for the world football while leading the team of Barcelona from 2008 to 2012, and system of game called tiki-taka will stay marked with his name as something recognized as new in football. However, only the name of the system is new, but that is a play of short passes that was applied by other coaches in earlier times. In difference to other coaches, Guardiola had top players, ideal for applying such a system, and the main were definitely Lionel Messi, Xavi Fernandez and Andres Iniesta. After a few seasons of domination, Barcelona’s game became recognizable and coaches of other teams found adequate responses to such tactics, so Guardiola left the team at the right moment. Management of Bayern saw in him a coach that can keep the team at the top of German and European football for years, so they sacked Jupp Heynckes with whom Bayern won everything that could have been won in season 2012/13, leaving the impression of the most powerful team in Europe. They have won four trophies with Guardiola on the bench – the UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World, title of champion of Germany and the DFB-Cup, but the most important one is missing and that is title of champion of Europe.

Expectations in the Champions League in the new season are tied exclusively to the final, while the title in Germany is practically written down upfront. After the match for the DFL-Supercup and the first round of the new championship, it could be said that they are reckoning without their host. There is another unconvincing show on the field behind the victory against Wolfsburg in the first round. In a match of average quality, Wolfsburg was even better in the second halftime. After the match, Pep Guardiola said that Wolfsburg is one the best teams of Bundesliga, which is disputable, at least regarding the lineup of the team of Wolfsburg in that match because midfielder Luiz Gustavo, forwards Ivan Perisic and Nicklas Bendtner, as well as goalkeeper Diego Benaglio were absent. Wolfsburg entered that match with six matches without a victory behind them, including the cup match against member of the 2. Bundesliga, Darmstadt, in which they did not score a goal in 120 minutes of game. Only around twenty days ago Bayern defeated Wolfsburg with a result 3-0 in final of the Telekom Cup, and all three goals were scored in the first halftime (both halftimes were 30 minutes each). Wolfsburg suffered defeats without a scored goal in the first four matches away last season. They did finish the season in the fifth place, but with 30 points less than Bayern and with terrible seasons for three giants of German football – Werder Bremen, Hamburger and VfB Stuttgart. However, regardless of the opponents’ qualities, a question is posed  about whether faint performance of Bayern and barren victory in the first round of the championship can be justified that way. Maybe the right answer should be looked for in the fact that Guardiola is forcing the tiki-taka system of Barcelona even though the profile of players of Bayern is completely different, and even Bundesliga is completely different in relation to the Spanish Primera Division. Guardiola’s monotonous approach to the game has long been revealed, and this system can no longer pass even for the Spanish national team, while German distinctive style was dominant at the recently finished World Cup. Bayern won the title in the previous season the easy way, but it seems that that will not be as easy in the new season. It is even needless to talk about the Champions League. In the end, time will show whether Bayern “ran into” strong Wolfsburg or if this team with style of game forced by Pep Guardiola is a bit overrated.

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