Football News

Niko Kovac’s Bayern Munich players are still using techniques Pep Guardiola “taught” them

By Ben Green

Published: 17:39, 24 April 2019

Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara says ‘you can feel Pep Guardiola’s influence on the pitch’ three years after he left the German club.

The 28-year-old is on course to clinch his sixth successive Bundesliga title having won the competition three times under the current Manchester City manager.

Guardiola in Munich: Five key things to know…

  1. Having taken a two-year sabbatical following his departure from Barcelona, Guardiola joined Bayern in 2013.
  2. The Catalan coach won three consecutive Bundesliga titles as well as two DFB-Pokals during his tenure in Bavaria.
  3. He was unable to win the Champions League whilst in charge, suffering elimination in the semi-finals in each of his three seasons at the helm.
  4. Guardiola has since gone on to win the Premier League with Man City, but Thiago has revealed his ideas still resonate in Munich.
  5. The midfielder has lauded the philosophy of Guardiola, describing him as “one of the best coaches in the world”.

Guardiola initially signed Thiago from former club Barcelona upon his arrival in Bavaria, and the pair would go on to clinch a host of domestic titles in Germany.

The 48-year-old has since relocated to the Premier League, but Thiago has spoken in awe of the lasting impression he left on him and his teammates at the Allianz Arena.

“He definitely left his mark at the club because he and his ideas have shaped us enormously as a team,” the 28-year-old told Goal.

“You can feel it on the pitch. In some match situations, we still do things he taught us. But I think that we have managed to take the positives from each of our coaches and combine them.”

During his nascent years, Guardiola helped promote Thiago from La Masia to the first-team reckoning in Catalonia, and the Spain international went on to praise his former coach for having such a huge impact on his career.

He continued: “Pep made it possible for me to move up from Barca’s youth academy to Barca’s first team. He taught me a lot. Anyone who comes to the professional team as a young player has to learn day-by-day.

“With him as a coach, you learn much faster and with more detail. He was a great help for me from the beginning, also here at Bayern. He is one of the best coaches in the world, if not the best. And I’m sure he’ll give football a lot in the next few years.”

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‘We still play Tiki-Taka’

Guardiola has forged a formidable reputation for his Tiki-Taka philosophy, a style of play that encourages total control of the ball, and Bayern still look to utilise this system, even under Niko Kovac, says Thiago.

He said: “Whether you call it Tiki-Taka, Taka-Taka, or whatever, it’s important for me to control the match in every situation. In other words, if we are in possession of the ball, it must be clear to us that we still have to defend well.

“And if the opponent has the ball, we have to be ready to force him to make mistakes and take advantage of those mistakes.

“This superiority – with or without a ball – is the most important thing for me. If we have this superiority, we succeed – regardless of the playing style with a lot or a little less ball possession.”