It is said there has been a power shift of dominance in European football from Spain to Germany. This is true because one team over the past 1 year has dominated other than FC Barcelona and that is Bayern Munich. Bayern Munich did an unprecedented treble under the guidance of Jupp Heynckes last season. Bayern Munich were so dominant, the highlight of such dominance was Bayern’s annihilation of FC Barcelona in the Uefa Champions League semi finals. Barcelona have been the dominant force in Europe for over 5 years so Bayern tearing them apart took all by storm and the indication of the power shift to Bayern’s hand. It was only last season so saying it’s a power shift is too early. Bayern need to be the dominant force for many years before such can be said.
That said, Heynckes left the club and the man who had been at the heart of Barcelona’s dominance took over at the Allianz Arena. This of course, Pep Guardiola. Guardiola took over this season and had a mission to continue Bayern’s chase of all 6 trophies available to a club. He achieved that in his 1st full season as Barcelona coach but he had just half a task this time around since Heynckes had done the other half. Pep failed to complete the mission as Bayern fell to Dortmund in the German Super Cup but succeeded in the other two. So Bayern had 5 trophies which isn’t bad but it still put them on pole as the no.1 team in Europe and not Barcelona. Since Heynckes set the motion for Bayern to be no.1 in Europe, Pep had the task of maintaining that. He excelled with that in Barcelona but what is striking is that under Pep’s guidance, Bayern have been Invincible especially in the Bundesliga. So far, in 25 Bundesliga games, Bayern have won 23 and drawn just two and lost none. They have 71 points from a possible maximum of 75 points from 25 games. They have scored 74 goals and conceded just 12 goals in the process which makes Bayern have the meanest defence of table toppers in the big 5 leagues.
All of these have made Bayern so lethal that they are now officially the most feared team in Europe. Even Barcelona won’t want the lightening to strike a 2nd time if by chance they meet Bayern again in the UCL. This Bayern dominance has led me to wonder if Bayern is really under Pep’s control or the team is in simulation mode like in the football manager game or what I call ‘auto pilot’ mode. The coach is not really under control because the team knows what to do as there is already a system and it must not be altered. Such is what happened in Barcelona. Pep remodeled the team and it got to a point it was as if Pep’s influence was not felt anymore. It was just down to the players who knew what they were supposed to do. And when you have a player as talented as Messi, Iniesta and Xavi who have been given creative freedom, such teams will play to performances you can say are out of this world. If a coach has a specific tactic that work in every match, such as the now famous ‘tiki-taka’ that Barcelona use which of course was improved and revamped under Pep, I believe the coach has done his part and the rest is left to the players. I see such happening now in Bayern. They are filled with technically gifted and skilled players from goalkeeper to attack and such has been demonstrated in their dominance. These players started showing their brilliance under Heynckes and it has spilled over under Pep’s reign but it is really Pep or have the players just grown to become more lethal?
After all, Bayern play a similar pattern of ‘tiki-taka’ like Barcelona. Are Bayern in ‘auto-pilot mode’ or is the shear brilliance of Pep when he 1st took over as head coach at the Camp Nou in 2008 at work again? It’s hard to determine but what has been established is that Bayern are currently the most dominant team in Europe and not Barcelona. Like I said earlier, it is still just a year of Bayern’s dominance and only as time progresses will it be certain if a power shift has occurred from the Spanish league headed by Barcelona to the German league headed by Bayern Munich and if Bayern are really under Pep’s control or it’s a case of ‘flying without wings’.