Will Pep Guardiola succeed at Bayern Munich?
Bayern Munich look set for a famous treble, so where does Guardiola go from here?
Bayern Munich were crowned champions this past weekend with six games to play, establishing a 20 point lead over second placed Borussia Dortmund.
The Bavarians went through a sour past two years, in which Dortmund pipped them to the title on both occasions, beating them in the league home and away and in the DFB Pokal final last year.
In addition to their misery domestically, they lost the coveted UEFA Champions League final to Chelsea in their own backyard, despite going a goal ahead.
This term however, they set things right first by cruising to the Bundesliga title, a more or less guaranteed victory against Augsburg in the DFB Pokal and emphatically knocked out Juventus in the Champions League.
The squad was reinforced in the summer with Mario Mandzukic brought in initially as cover for the Mario Gomez, but Mandzukic, who starred in EURO 2012 with Croatia has carried the form into the Bundesliga, displacing Gomez from the team. Dante, from Monchengladbach and Xherdan Shaqiri, from FC Basel further strengthen an already unassailable squad.
The German club can now create a piece of history by winning the DFB Pokal and the UEFA Champions League. But the major news at the start of next season will be the arrival of former Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola, replacing the outgoing Jupp Huyenckes.
The multi-trophy winning Spaniard is as good an addition to the coaching staff as a world-class player on the field. Not satisfied with the acquisition of a top coach to lead a top squad, Bayern president and General Manager Uli Hoeness apparently has opened the coffers of a €100 million for Pep to use when he arrives. The mere thought of this will scare opponents home and abroad. But the question is, in what way will this affect Bayern Munich?
First, we can assume it goes the positive way. New boss Guardiola would try to bring in a superstar such as Neymar or Gareth Bale, making Bayern even more of a formidable opposition.
Centre back is an area where Bayern could strengthen. Holger Badstuber is frequently injured, Van Buyten is approaching the end of his career and Jerome Boateng is not in the top bracket of central defenders.
They might well try strengthening this department by bringing in Mats Hummels from bitter rivals Dortmund or Juventus hard man Leonardo Bonucci, though these moves are very unlikely to happen.
If they were to spend €100 million then Bayern Munich would blow away other teams in the league making it a one horse race. In Europe, Bayern could become the Barcelona of the past five years, crushing opponents in their path.
The positive side is easy to suggest but there are two sides to every coin. Pep Guardiola played and coached his best football at Barcelona, a team with a lot of home grown talent from La Masia - mentally and tactical trained to play the ''Barcelona way".
The same cannot be said at Bayern Munich. They do have local talent such as Bastian Schweinsteiger, Phillip Lahm, Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller but there is a lot of imported talent as well.
It will be interesting to know what type of football Guardiola will want his men to play possession football as at Barcelona.
In the case that Guardiola opts to play the tiki-taka style so effective at Barcelona, it completely takes out the fantastic, and sometimes solo dribbling abilities of the likes of Ribery, Robben and Shaqiri, giving way to probably Kroos and Muller being used as wide men.
Also, the tiki-taka involves a more mobile and fluid playing frontman in the ilk of Cesc Fabregas or Leo Messi, meaning Mario Gomez and Mario Mandzukic's game styles would be totally out of sync.
Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben are two of, if not the biggest individuals at the club. Their hugely inflated ego wouldn't go down well with Pep Guardiola as seen in the cases of Samuel Eto'o, Ronaldinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who were frozen out.
Moreover, dropping Mario Gomez just because his game style is that of a penalty box poacher would cause irritation among the Bayern board and its fans. This is sure to cause disruption within the squad, making it look like a bunch of expensive individuals with a highly paid coach, a la Manchester City.
All this could dismantle the good work done by the Bayern board and coaching staff over the past 5 years which brought them to this position at the near pinnacle of football.
Costly purchases of Franck Ribery, Mario Gomez and Javi Martinez have been coupled with wise, low cost moves for Dante and David Alaba. Prickly personalities of Robben and Ribery have been well managed so far, bringing the best out of these top players.
Bayern Munich could either go on to become one of the best teams the world will ever see, or go down into shambles. Whatever happens, it will be because Pep Guardiola is pulling the strings.
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