Having joined last summer, it was difficult to imagine how Pep Guardiola could improve the all-powerful Bayern Munich, a team that won everything within its’ grasp last season. However, the talented Spanish manager has some fixed ideas on what he wants from a team and he did not hesitate to implement his own style and a new tactical scheme in the team.
Last term, Bayern Munich used Jupp Heynckes’ 4-2-3-1 style successfully, benefiting from the excellent form of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez, who together formed the team’s double pivot in the centre of the midfield.
Nevertheless, Guardiola wanted to impose his own style and to leave his mark at the Bavarian team. The Spanish head coach introduced the team to a quite uncommon 4-1-4-1 flexible style with one man playing alone between the defence and the midfield lines, who is responsible for building up the team’s game from behind.
Against all the odds, the man Pep Guardiola choose to embrace that role was Philipp Lahm, which might seem strange, especially considering that Guardiola has talented defensive midfielders or deep lying playmakers such as Bastian Schweinsteiger, Javi Martinez, or even Thiago Alcantara at his disposal.
Nevertheless, Lahm, who has been considered the world’s best full-back several times, embraced the job with class and mastery and he is arguably been the key man in Bayern’s recent success this season.
Although considerably different from the tactical approach Guardiola used at Barcelona, this 4-1-4-1 is also very flexible and can easily be transformed into a 4-4-2 or into a 4-3-3 to fulfil the team’s needs at a specific moment.
Lahm works as something similar to a libero, playing slightly forward on the pitch, an idea that Guardiola might have recovered and improved from former 1980’s Spartak Moscow’s manager Konstantin Beskov, a coach that Guardiola has allegedly confessed to admire.
Lahm’s job, which pairs the roles of deep lying playmaker with the defensive midfielder, is to offer Bayern Munich a tactical flexibility and a quality of possession that helps to position the team in the opposition’s half without being easily exposed to counter-attacks.
Guardiola’s year’s sabbatical after leaving Barcelona has somewhat helped him to refine his coaching and tactical knowledge even further and this new approach with Bayern Munich proves that the Catalan manager knows what he is doing.
After the Bavarian team’s treble last season, there was apparently nothing else they could do that would surprise us; however, Guardiola refused to think like that and keeps on breaking records with his team, grabbing their 16th consecutive win in the Bundesliga last weekend and thus becoming the German team with the most consecutive wins in the top flight.
Now, they are taking aim at Inter Milan’s record of 17 consecutive wins in a row, something that judging by their recent performances will happen very soon.