MUNICH (AP) — Pep Guardiola's obsession with possession is under scrutiny after Bayern Munich's title hopes in the Champions League were shredded by Real Madrid.
Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti outfoxed Guardiola over both semifinal legs and his team crushed Bayern 4-0 in Munich on Tuesday to complete a 5-0 aggregate win.
One year ago, Bayern crushed another Spanish giant, Barcelona, 7-0 over two legs en route to an unprecedented club treble — the Champions League, the Bundesliga, and the German Cup.
In Guardiola's first season in charge, Bayern became the earliest Bundesliga champion but the Champions League title is gone. The German Cup is still within reach, but Bayern looks a lot less dominant than it did until four weeks ago.
Feted until recently as a godsend, Guardiola is under fire.
"Pep Guardiola had to recognize that he perhaps picked a clever, courageous tactic for the two games. But that someone read through it," wrote Munich's leading newspaper, Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine wrote that Guardiola's reputation as "the Messiah of the profession has been dented."
"In both games against Real, Carlo Ancelotti proved to be a better strategist. Considering both legs, it was a dismantling," the Frankfurt newspaper added.
After Tuesday's match, Guardiola bemoaned the lack of possession in the first half — although UEFA statistics show Bayern had two-thirds of possession for the game.
"We didn't have ball possession and that's why we had no control," Guardiola said repeatedly.
In Madrid, Bayern nearly monopolized possession but created few chances and conceded the only goal from a counterattack. In Munich, Real surprised Bayern by pressuring early and aggressively, and playing more attacking football, something Ancelotti hinted at beforehand when he said he would make "a few changes" to his game plan.
Continue reading this story on the...