The hibernation is over. Pep had decided that he will handle the Bavarian next season. Coincidence or not, Pep chose Bayern Munich that have a lot of similarities with previously Barcelona he handled. Guaranteed, Pep will bring his trademark passing football to German side. The good thing is, B. Munich will not have any difficulty to adapt as they are only second best to Barcelona in term of possession game. Not only the playing philosophy, even the players characteristic resemble a lot. Lets see the comparison below.
There is slight difference in formation as Barcelona sticks to 4-3-3 and B. Munich plays 4-2-3-1. But, consider that both Robben and Ribery spent their time attacking and offer little in defence. Also, consider that all Barcelona forwards wil press and track back to defence. So, practically there is not so much difference between them.
Perhaps the biggest difference of both squad. Neuer boasts cat-like reflexes while Valdes doesn’t, but the latter has a great asset in his passing ability, something that Neuer will jealous for. Once Neuer said that he worked less than he did when he played for Schalke, but Pep arrival will change everything. Neuer will see a lot of time with ball, but instead of playing it with hand, he will play it with his feet. In Pep tactic, goalkeeper is the first foundation of attack and Neuer must adapt well for it.
Alves was the main man in width department. With Messi cut inside and the rest players tend to congest middle of the park, Alves was the key tactical figure to provide the width. Pep propelled him from great fullback into even greater one, but Pep will not miss him as Lahm is nothing short of his quality.
Puyol was the right back before he established himself as accomplished center back. Does it resemble Badstuber very much ? None of them are comfortable in sprinting along the flank and sending the cross to penalty box. Even if they are deployed as full back, they will as centerback at flank, prioritising in defence over offence. For now, Badstuber is still very inferior compared to Puyol. But he is still 23 and lets see how far Pep can develop him.
Another man in centerback, Dante, worths comparison to Pique. Contrary to their partner (Badstuber and Puyol), Dante and Pique are very comfortable with ball. Just how many defenders in the world can pass as good as Pique, let alone his trademark long diagonal pass. Not to mention his overlapping run from backline when the attack has met deadend. All of these can be found in Dante. Aside of some differences, there is little doubt that Pep will utilise Dante like Pique.
The question for fullback position is, who will be given a licence to charge forward and who will focus on defence ? Back in his Barca tenure, Pep chose offensive right flank and defensive left flank. In B. Munich case, the case will not be as simple as that. Lahm is great fullback with balance on his offensive and defensive side. On the other flank, Alaba favours offence over defence, frequently leaving his position as the hole in defence. As much as Pep loves attacking football, he still has to think the balance with the defence. Perhaps, Pep will utilise Alaba as “Alves” and Lahm as “Abidal”, but only time can tell.
Pep was close to sign in Martinez before the deal collapsed, but now he gets his second chance to play with the ex-Bilbao. There is no doubt that Martinez will operate similarly like Busquets does. He will distribute the ball from defensive line to Schweinsteiger, just like Busquets links Puyol-Pique to Xavi. He will act as centerhalf, positioning himself along centerback when his team attack. If somehow B. Munich run out of centerback (either due to injury or suspension), Martinez will play as centerback as he is also adept playing there. Uli Hoeness might not see Pep coming when he decided to splash hefty sum of money to acquire Martinez, but now it turns out to be a blessing.
Here comes the hotlink between Pep and Van Gaal. They worked each other as player and coach. Pep was the team’s playmaker while Van Gaal were moulding young Xavi into fine playmaker. Xavi enjoyed his peak performance with Pep, but the foundation was builded by Van Gaal (which was admitted by Xavi himselft). Now, history is repeating himselft. Schweinsteiger was a winger. He was eccentric unique figure as German didn’t have much technical player. But everything changed when he met Van Gaal. At first, everybody was skeptical about the idea of putting Schweinsteiger as metronome. No one would expect the experiment turned out to be great success. Schweinstegier plays at completely higher level than he had ever played as a winger. In term of pacesetting, he is on par with Xavi, Pirlo, and Scholes. What distinguses them is, the German is not the one who will spray deft throughball to split opponent defence. But, he compensates it with his presence in defence. It is interesting how will Pep work with Schweinsteiger. Will Pep sharpen his creativity edge or will he keep his attack-defence balance ?
Now, it is hard to compare Kroos and Iniesta. The former is the rising star while the latter has established himself as powerhouse in world football. Kroos is a passer who has exceptional eye for space, he will spot opponent’s weak spot and capitalise it. On the other hand, Iniesta is like an upgrade version of Kroos with unparallel dribbling skill.
To sum up the midfield, perhaps in future Kroos will remain as creative passer as he is now while Schweinsteiger too will remain unchanged. In short, defensive Martinez, balanced Schweinsteiger, and offensive Kroos.
Dribbling from right side then drifting inside, fast, explosive, and selfish. Name 2 players who fit the description and the answer will be Robben and young Messi (as if he is already old). There is chance that Pep will once more revive the combination of inverted winger and overlapping fullback as the resources are available. Pep had Messi-Alves, now he has Robben-Lahm. Different players, same devastating effect. The problems are, Robben doesn’t have an intention to press and a vision to pass. Homework for Pep.
It is the case of tranformation from central to forward. Both of them started in central position. Fabregas already pronounced himself as midfield linchpin in Arsenal with his passing and sudden forwarding burst.. The Spaniard was projected to replace Xavi as playmaker, but it turns out he plays in other position. In most case, he plays as a part of Barca tridente forward. It was almost similar to Ribery. Ribery was heralded as Zidane’s replacement. He played as trequartista in France national team then brought to Munich to add creative presence and replace Scholl. Now, the task of playmaking has been lefted to his teammate and he spents majority of his game in opponent final third.
Although Pep was renowned for his fluid passing game, he is not an alien to imposing figure of targetman. His previous tenure was coloured by his strife with Ibra, but it is not that Pep cannot utilise him. In fact, Ibra made an instant impact with his continous goal, including the winner in El Classico with his volley. The problem began when Messi started to want to play in more central role, encroaching Ibra’s position. Then, the rest is history. Now, it is unlikely that Robben will play in central position so Pep can continue his work with targetman with Mandzukic or Gomez. Although the Sweden is undisputedly better player, both of them aren’t bad players either.
It is very adventageous for both Pep and B. Munich as they have fair share or philosophy. They will not start from zero. Pep will have almost the same players like he had in Barcelona. Furthermore, B. Munich have completely better players than most of Bundesliga clubs. It seems that everything will go smooth and it seems the fans are already very optimistic. But, you know how football realm frequently shocks us. There is no guaranteed succes and it also applies to Pep-B. Munich case.