opinions | 2015-04-23
The Pep Episodes (V)
Praises for Guardiola and Thiago after a convincing triumph against Porto
"Pep or nothing," ran the headline of Süddeutsche Zeitung after Bayern Munich's more than impressive win against FC Porto in the quarterfinal of the Champions League. The Bavarians destroyed the Portuguese champions with a 6-1 scoreline and Pep Guardiola was the hailed protagonist after the game.
The paper's headline referred to a sentence Guardiola once said in a rather typical Bavarian yet not proper German declaration, that the player he wanted was "Thiago, or nothing." On Tuesday, one could see why Pep wanted him that bad. His passes, his vision, his agility - and Thiago was the one who broke the deadlock with a fine header against Porto.
Guardiola was proud of his midfielder's performance; Thiago overcame a year-long injury and turned out to be the most important player in the last couple of weeks: "After a year out, just imagine...he is back and he's doing really well. Thiago really played very well out there tonight. His strength is his mentality," Guardiola said.
Süddeutsche noted: "A long-cherished Bavarian hope turned concrete: That Guardiola and Thiago make the proud Bavarian club better, not only everyone for himself, but together." Bayern's performance, especially in the first half was that impressive, they showed the whole football world who they are with a "statement win", as Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Thomas Müller both put it. The game "should impress every potential semifinal opponent," because Porto was "dissected alive" with "surgical precision," wrote the newspaper.
Guardiola's "perfect matchplan"
This, of course, was due to "Guardiola's perfect matchplan", as kicker and other German outlets stated. Guardiola said he analyzed the opponent as he always does. Given the absence of Porto's two starting full backs, this time Bayern attacked through the wings which worked tremendously.
"Obviously tactics and the lineup are important, but at the end of the day, mental strength makes the difference at this level," Guardiola said. He added: "I am very, very happy about this performance, especially after the recent weeks when we had our problems scoring goals." The Barcelona legend admitted that he always believed in his team, even after the 1-3 loss in the first leg. "Even after the game in Porto I had the feeling that we could make it."
Luis Enrique happy for Guardiola
Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge could not contain his joy: "We're very proud that Pep is our coach. He's the best and most sought-after coach in the world. He has exceeded all our expectations."
Luis Enrique, Barcelona's coach, said after he sealed his semifinal pass with Barça: "There were a lot of people that wrote them off and the fact that they scored six with a lot of players out says everything about Guardiola as a coach and Bayern as a team. I am very happy that Guardiola has gone through because I like when good things happen to my friends."
On Friday, the Champions League draw will reveal if the two friends are going to be reunited soon.
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The Pep Episodes are a weekly column about the adventures of Pep Guardiola in Munich contributed by Alex Truica. You can follow him on twitter: @kicker_atr
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WRITTEN BY: Alex Truica
Creator of The Pep Episodes. Has a Bachelor degree in journalism and works as a freelance sports journalist and editor, covering international football.