Bayern Munich may have endured a narrow defeat on the Bernabéu pitch yesterday, falling 1-0 to Real Madrid in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semifinal — but the defending European cup holders took a far worse drubbing from their home country’s own media, over manager Pep Guardiola’s “toothless” tactics.
The defeat puts Bayern Munich in a difficult position as they return home for the April 29 decider at Allianz Arena. Bayern, essentially, must defeat Real Madrid — who are surging toward what would be the storied club’s first European championship since 2002 — by a score of at least 2-0, or 3-1.
A 2-1 victory would put Real Madrid in the final, on the away goals rule.
Nonetheless, Bayern Munich remain confident after dominating the game Wednesday and holding possession for nearly 80 percent of the match — but lacking only the finishing touch.
“All we lacked was a goal,” said Bayern Munich and Netherlands winger Arjen Robben. “We’ve got to keep positive, though, and we have a lot of confidence for Tuesday. I’ve got to pay the team a compliment for the way we controlled the game here in the Bernabeu. We’ve not been great for the past two weeks, but tonight we were. We really upped our game.”
The German press were not nearly as sunny in their outlook as Robben, however, coming to a quick consensus that the Guardiola way of football — the same possession-focused style he employed at Bercelona and which brought Bayern last year’s Champions League trophy — was simply not suited to the confrontation with Real Madrid.
The tabloid newspaper Bild deemed the loss — the first ever suffered by a Guardiola-managed side at the Bernabéu — a “historic defeat,” and warned the manager, “Pep, that’s how you’ll blow your Treble dream.”
With Bayern Munich already clinching the Bundesliga championship and winning Germany’s domestic cup competition, the DFB Pokal, the Champions League trophy would complete the “treble” championship for Guardiola’s side.
The online edition of Germany’s largest magazine Der Spiegel was no more forgiving, calling Bayern Munich a “toothless tiger” in the game, while lambasting Guardiola’s conservative, possession-oriented tactic as “slow, innocuous and predictable.”
Another paper, Berliner Zeitung, slammed Guardiola for having “not developed a Plan B for the showdown,” saying that Bayern Munich “are in danger of becoming the victim of their own style of play, that leans towards monotony.”
The Munich paper Sueddeutsche Zeitung piled on, ripping the Guardiola-led Bayern Munich “paralyzing greed for possession.”
But Guardiola wasn’t letting the criticism shake him.
“The result is certainly not ideal, but we can still improve in the second leg,” said the Bayern Munich manager. “I am very optimistic. Even more than before this game.”