Football Features

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

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 14:15, 4 May 2022 | Updated: 13:40, 6 May 2022

Pep Guardiola is on the verge of another Champions League final with Manchester City but there is still a massive game to navigate.

Man City, who finished as runners-up in the Champions League last season, take a 4-3 lead to the Santiago Bernabeu where they will face the final boss of the European Cup: Real Madrid.

The first leg was a thriller that Man City could have led by as many as four goals at times, but they were ultimately pegged back to a one-goal advantage thanks to the brilliance of Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema.


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This isn’t Guardiola’s first Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid though. In 2013/14 Guardiola’s Bayern Munich side 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, personal tragedy between both legs perhaps clouded his mind although he’d never admit it. But what is also true 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!

Starters:

Manuel Neuer

Age: 36
Bayern appearances: 470
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 recently their 10th-consecutive Bundesliga title.

Philipp Lahm

Age: 38
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: 33
Bayern appearances: 363
Bayern goals: 10
Current club: Lyon

Boateng built from the Madrid defeat and got even better, becoming truly imperious for the next year (winning the World Cup) until Leo Messi dropped him in the following year’s Champions League semi-final.

He’s been in steady decline ever since and left Bayern last summer, after 10 years at the club, joining French side Lyon. After a decent start in France, Boateng has seen his playing time lessen towards the end of the campaign.


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Dante

Age: 38
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. Struggled mightily without Guardiola’s guidance and is one of the players from this team that face the Catalan coach in the 2022 semi-final.

After over 10 years with Bayern, Alaba left the German champions last summer to join Real Madrid where he has already won La Liga, playing 30 games en route to the title at the heart of their defence.

Bastian Schweinsteiger

Age: 37
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. Retired in 2019 after a glittering career and currently spends his time taking nice pictures of he and his wife former tennis star Ana Ivanovic on Instagram.


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Toni Kroos

Age: 32
Bayern appearances: 205
Bayern goals: 24
Current club: Real Madrid

The other former player Guardiola faces in 2022, Toni Kroos swapped Munich for Madrid not long after the debacle in 2014.

Since then he’s been a key passing cog that helped Real Madrid win three straight Champions Leagues, not to mention reaching the summit of La Liga again. He may need two runners to function at a high level against elite opponents, but Kroos is still the very best.

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 last summer but recently ran a marathon, as you do.

Franck Ribery

Age: 39
Bayern appearances: 425
Bayern goals: 124
Current club: Salernitana

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. Left for 2019 and joined Fiorentina amid reports of retirement, spending two years there before joining Salernitana and being named captain.

Thomas Muller

Age: 32
Bayern appearances: 624
Bayern goals: 226
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 be his peak years. However, the self-confessed Raumdeuter (or “space interpreter”) is enjoying a creative renaissance of late with 17 assists to help Bayern win the Bundesliga this season.

He also recently pledged his future to Bayern, signing a contract extension until 2024.

Mario Mandzukic

Age: 35
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 last summer.


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Subs:

Javi Martinez

Age: 33
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 last summer.

Claudio Pizarro

Age: 43
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: 29
Bayern appearances: 114
Bayern goals: 36
Current club: PSV Eindhoven

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 Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven after spending time on the bench watching the next generation of geniuses do their thing at Borussia Dortmund.

Unused Subs:

Pierre-Emile Højbjerg

Age: 26
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: 28
Bayern appearances: 3
Bayern goals: 0
Current club: Lokomotiv Plovdiv

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 in Bulgaria.

Rafinha

Age: 36
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 in January.

Daniel van Buyten

Age: 44
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.

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