Champions League final: Why Guardiola recommended Tuchel to be his successor at Bayern Munich

Pep Guardiola speaking to Thomas Tuchel

Two of the most introspective football thinkers go head to head in the Champions League final showdown between Manchester City and Chelsea on Saturday evening. 

Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel may prescribe to different tactical schools of thought but there is little to separate the pair in regard to their obsession with the game. 

Both managers are utterly consumed by tactics, philosophies and a perennial thirst for knowledge, and those traits have made them two of the most successful managers in the world. 

And while Tuchel is far from an experienced pretender making headway towards the managerial elite, there is a distinctive master vs the apprentice feel to this budding rivalry. 

After all, the pair have been on each other's radars since long before they crossed paths in the Premier League. 

Guardiola and Tuchel first faced each other back in October 2013, with Bayern Munich recording a seemingly routine 4-1 win over Mainz in the Bundesliga. 

Despite being on the receiving end of a humbling, Guardiola was deeply impressed by Tuchel's desire to take the game to the Bundesliga giants.

In fact, Mainz actually led 1-0 at the break and the final score wasn't a fair reflection of how the fixture unfolded.

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According to The Athletic, Guardiola was so impressed by Tuchel that he named him as the most interesting young German coach shortly after Michael Reschke took over as Bayern's sporting director in 2014. 

"We (Bayern) played against Mainz last season and they actually wanted to win against us! Many teams park the bus and are happy if they don’t lose too big. But he really put us under pressure. With Mainz! I have huge respect for him,” said Guardiola to Reschke.

As fate would have it, Guardiola and Tuchel ended up meeting in Schumann’s Bar in Munich for an evening of intense football discussion.

“It was like watching two grandmasters of chess, Fischer vs Spassky, locked in a battle of wits. Or Cicero and Socrates, discussing football philosophy,” said Reschke, who was sat with the two managers as they clashed their heads together over drinks in the Bavarian capital.

“I was a mere spectator. They were speaking in a mixture of German and English, and didn’t use any scientific terms at all, but it was still hard to keep up with them at times.

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"They could recall dozens and dozens of specific situations from ages ago and talked through how things might have panned out differently if there had been any changes. It was all about actions and reactions.

“They were so wrapped up in their discussions that other people in the bar and even the waiters didn’t dare approach them. They were in a bubble, for nearly four hours.”

The trio met again just a few weeks later in another Munich establishment as their mutual respect began to take shape.

Though Tuchel never got the better of Guardiola in their five encounters in German football, he left a stark enough impression on the Catalonian to convince him that the then Borussia Dortmund manager was the right man to replace him at Bayern Munich. 

Guardiola said to Reschke: "You have to bring him to Bayern!" 

The Athletic claim that although Tuchel met with Reschke and Bayern president Uli Hoeness to discuss the prospect of taking over at the Allianz Arena, the timing wasn't right. 

Every great rivalry deserves a compelling backstory. 

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