Football Features

Where are they now? The Bayern XI from the “biggest f**k-up” of Pep Guardiola’s managerial career

By Muhammad Butt

Where are they now? The Bayern XI from the biggest f**k-up of Pep Guardiola's managerial career copy

Published: 21:30, 17 March 2023

If Pep Guardiola is to finally lift the Champions League with Manchester City, he will first have to bypass former club Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of this season’s tournament.

Infamously renowned for overthinking his tactics in the latter stages of European competitions, Guardiola suffered one his biggest tactical hiccups whilst managing his upcoming opponents: Bayern Munich,

In 2013/14 Guardiola’s Bavarians took on a Real Madrid side looking for La Decima, just three years after he had beaten them at the same stage with Barcelona.

This was a Real Madrid side that Guardiola knew like the back of his hand — but the former Barcelona boss saw his Munich side lose narrowly 1-0 in Madrid, before getting torn apart 4-0 at the Allianz Arena.

Guardiola has since referred to that second-leg defeat as “the biggest f***-up of my life as a coach,” also saying: “I got it wrong, man. I got it totally wrong. It’s a monumental f***-up. A total mess. I spend the whole season refusing to use a 4-2-4. The whole season. And I decide to do it tonight, the most important night of the year. A complete f***-up.

There’s no doubt that Guardiola did indeed get his tactical set-up wrong, while personal tragedy between both legs perhaps clouded his mind — although he’d never admit it.

But what is also true is that his players, who lobbied Guardiola hard to play that same 4-2-3-1 (or 4-2-4 as Pep calls it) all season, utterly failed to deliver when given their preferred formation.

But where are those players now? We’ve had a look, so read on and find out!


Manuel Neuer

Age: 36
Bayern appearances: 489
Bayern goals: 0
Current club: Bayern Munich

Manuel Neuer is a monstrous goalkeeper who, just a couple months after getting slapped by Madrid went on to be the best player at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, winning it with Germany.

Following a difficult phase a few years ago, Manuel Neuer returned to former glories and is still one of the best goalkeepers in the world, helping Bayern win their sixth Champions League in 2020 and their 10th-consecutive Bundesliga title last term.

Philipp Lahm

Age: 39
Bayern appearances: 517
Bayern goals: 16
Retired in: 2017

Lahm was hailed by Guardiola as one of the smartest players he’d ever worked with, and sure enough he played two positions to an elite level under the Spaniard. He is currently retired, having stepped down after winning a fifth consecutive Bundesliga title (his eighth overall) in 2017.

Jerome Boateng

Age: 34
Bayern appearances: 363
Bayern goals: 10
Current club: Lyon

Boateng went on to win the World Cup later that year with Germany. He ended his career at Bayern Munich in 2021 after a decade at the Allianz Arena and now plays for Lyon in France.


Age: 39
Bayern appearances: 133
Bayern goals: 5
Current club: Nice

Dante was taken through hell by Real Madrid and then by Germany themselves a few months later as he was on the pitch for Brazil’s 7-1 hometown hammering at the World Cup. Not good. He’s currently at Nice, however, and playing quite nicely as captain.

David Alaba

Age: 29
Bayern appearances: 431
Bayern goals: 33
Current club: Real Madrid

Alaba was a young stud back in 2014, and then Pep Guardiola turned him into one of the most complete players in world football. After over 10 years with Bayern, Alaba left the German champions in 2021 to join Real Madrid, where he has already won the Champions League and La Liga.

Bastian Schweinsteiger

Age: 38
Bayern appearances: 500
Bayern goals: 68
Retired in: 2019

Everyone’s favourite German statesman was a rock at the heart of the Bayern midfield for over a decade before moving on to Manchester United and then Chicago Fire. He retired in 2019 after a glittering career and currently spends a lot of his time posting pictures on Instagram with his wife, the former Serbian tennis player Ana Ivanovic.

Toni Kroos

Age: 33
Bayern appearances: 205
Bayern goals: 24
Current club: Real Madrid

Toni Kroos swapped Munich for Madrid not long after the debacle in 2014, and he hasn’t looked back since. The German metronome has been a passing grand master for Real Madrid to win four Champions Leagues, not to mention reaching the summit of La Liga thrice.

Arjen Robben

Age: 38
Bayern appearances: 309
Bayern goals: 144
Retired in: 2021

The Dutch dynamo goes down as one of the greatest players in Bayern history. Hell, that status was already assured in 2014 thanks to his winning goal in the 2013 Champions League final. Anyway, he played on after this and then retired in 2019 before going back on that commitment by returning to boyhood club FC Groningen. He actually retired for good in 2021 but recently ran a marathon, as you do.

Franck Ribery

Age: 39
Bayern appearances: 425
Bayern goals: 124
Retired in: 2022

Bullied into silence by Dani Carvajal back in 2014, Ribery will always be one of those “what if” players because even though he made over 400 appearances for Bayern the fact that he played for them over an entire decade means he should have made much, much more. Injuries are what they are though. He left in 2019 and joined Fiorentina, before turning out for Salernitana and retiring in October of last year.

Thomas Muller

Age: 33
Bayern appearances: 653
Bayern goals: 232
Current club: Bayern Munich

Bayern’s killer forward got better and better under Pep Guardiola and then couldn’t seem to hit his peak levels in what should have been his peak years. However, the self-confessed Raumdeuter (or “space interpreter”) has enjoyed a creative renaissance in recent years, providing 43 assists across the last three seasons, which is more than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues.

Mario Mandzukic

Age: 36
Bayern appearances: 88
Bayern goals: 48
Retired in: 2021

The workhorse who was subbed off at half-time against Madrid left Bayern that summer. He tangled with Real Madrid plenty though, first playing for Atlético Madrid (losing in the quarter-finals) and then Juventus (losing in the 2017 final despite scoring an overhead kick!). After a year in Qatar, Mandzukic returned to Italy with AC Milan, before retiring in 2021.


Javi Martinez

Age: 34
Bayern appearances: 268
Bayern goals: 14
Current club: Qatar SC

Bayern’s injury-ravaged utility man came off the bench back in 2014 and basically did the same thing throughout his career in Munich, before joining Qatar SC in 2021.

Claudio Pizarro

Age: 44
Bayern appearances: 437
Bayern goals: 125
Retired in: 2020

Everyone’s favourite Peruvian veteran was a useful sub during his second stint at Bayern after being a stud striker the first time. At the grand old age of 41 he was still playing in the Bundesliga for Werder Bremen, but the 2019/20 season proved to be his final season.

Mario Gotze

Age: 30
Bayern appearances: 114
Bayern goals: 36
Current club: Eintracht Frankfurt

The man who stabbed Borussia Dortmund in the back only to find out he didn’t have the iron will to make it at Bayern Munich was a sad sub in 2014 (he was a happy sub a few months later when he came off the bench to win the 2014 World Cup for Germany). Guardiola always believed in him but once the Catalan left Bayern, so did Gotze.

He’s now at Eintracht Frankfurt after a renaissance in the Netherlands with PSV. The German playmaker recently helped The Eagles reach the knockouts of the Champions League in their debut season in the tournament, though Napoli proved too strong for them.

Unused Subs:

Pierre-Emile Højbjerg

Age: 27
Bayern appearances: 25
Bayern goals: 0
Current club: Tottenham

Hojbjerg was a teenager Guardiola was preparing for the big time back in 2014 and whilst that never happened for him he’s currently a key player for Antonio Conte’s Tottenham side after impressing at Southampton.

Lukas Raeder

Age: 29
Bayern appearances: 3
Bayern goals: 0
Current club: Duisburg

Raeder never made the grade at Bayern and after spells in Portugal, England and the lower leagues of German football, the goalkeeper is currently playing for third tier Duisburg.


Age: 37
Bayern appearances: 266
Bayern goals: 6
Current club: Sao Paulo

Rafinha was a Bayern squad player for damn-near a decade. He left for Flamengo, did a Continental Double with the Brazilian side and then lost the Club World Cup final in extra time. After half a year with Olympiacos, Rafinha is back in his native Brazil, joining Gremio in 2021 and then Sao Paulo last year.

Daniel van Buyten

Age: 45
Bayern appearances: 239
Bayern goals: 28
Retired in: 2014

Big Daniel van Buyten retired after the 2013/14 season finished as his contract was not renewed.