By Drew Farmer
Bayern Munich’s Pep Guardiola signed off in style, as the German heavyweights won their record 26th German title on Saturday afternoon. The Bavarians defeated Ingolstadt 2-1 to put an exclamation point on Guardiola’s final season with the club, before he heads to English Premier League side Manchester City in the summer.
Guardiola’s Bayern sealed the title with one fixture to go as nearest rivals Borussia Dortmund lost 1-0 to Eintracht Frankfurt. In Guardiola’s three years with Bayern, the club successfully won the Bundesliga crown in all three of the Spaniard’s season at the helm.
For the most part, Bayern have been a juggernaut throughout the Bundesliga season. The club have lost only twice during the term, first at the hands of Borussia Monchengladbach in early December and then to Mainz in March. Yet, the Bavarian giants have rarely shown signs of losing their grip on top spot, even when knocked from the Champions League by Spain’s Atletico Madrid.
Guardiola’s possession based, pass attack, overwhelmed teams in the Bundesliga in 2015-16. The team have scored 77 goals, while giving up a mere 16. Bayern lead the Bundesliga in possession at 67%, a hallmark of Guardiola’s teams, and something that will be tested when he takes over at the Etihad Stadium. Manchester City will need to dip into the transfer market to accommodate Guardiola, if similar success is to be found in the north west of England.
This season, while Guardiola has seen the influence of club stalwarts Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben decline, the coach has got the best out of forwards Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller. Although many of Guardiola’s opponents will remind everyone he failed to secure the ultimate prize of the Champions League at Bayern, proponents will point to the successes of both forwards.
Lewandowski has turned in the best goal return of his career with 29, while Muller has nearly equalled the Polish star, turning in his best season in terms of goals with 20. Lewandowski has already been linked with teams in the English Premier League, but with his success in Germany, there is little reason for Bayern to sell their star hitman. Currently rated by TransferMarkt at £52.5 million, Lewandowski would fetch Bayern a tidy sum, if the club did sell him.
For anyone expecting Bayern Munich to capitulate once Guardiola leaves, they should think again. Carlo Ancelotti will take over at the club once Guardiola sets sail for England.
The Italian has been one of the most successful coaches in European football since coaching AC Milan to the Champions League title in 2003. Winning cups and trophies in Italy, England and Spain, Ancelotti was the best coach available to Bayern when he was put in place to succeed Guardiola. Bayern’s playing style may change, but the success should remain under the Italian.
Bayern’s 26th German title is 21 more than their nearest rivals Monchengladbach and Dortmund. That gap will only grow in the coming seasons unless something very un-Bayern happens in Germany.
Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @DrewMFarmer. Check out his new book, Soccer Travels, in paperback or on Kindle at Amazon.com.