Opinion: The big mistake | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 30.04.2014
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Opinion: The big mistake

Fantastic, unique, outstanding - the commentators of the Bayern match outdid themselves this season with superlatives for Bayern's defeat on Tuesday. All of that came to an end, as Guardiola made one critical mistake.

The faces of the players: flat. The facial expressions of the supporters in the stadium: gloomy. The expressions of the Bayern fans next to me in the football pub: stunned. All of them seemed to be asking themselves two questions - How could this even happen? And: Is this really happening?

Unfortunately, yes. The very same Bayern Munich who were untouchable in the league. The great Bayern Munich - defenders of their crown in the Champions League, treble-winners last season, champions in record time - humiliated in their own stadium by Real Madrid. Awoken, by the harsh reality of football, from the dream of winning the Champions League title.

To clarify, once again, they were playing in front of their home crowd and the score stood nil-to-four. Many expected a comeback from Bayern after the 1-0 first leg defeat. Nobody had anticipated such a historic defeat. And still, there was sufficient evidence before that it would be very difficult for Bayern to progress to the final.

With the success began the problem

All of the main problems in the Bayern match began long before that memorable evening. To be more precise, they began on 25 March - a day, which marked a significant turning point in Bayern Munich's season. That night, in Berlin, Bayern celebrated the earliest league championship in the history of the Bundesliga and put some impressive finishing touches to the season - which up until that point - remained without a defeat.

Then: winners interviews, pats on the back and more celebrations. The well-known "Mia san Mia"- feeling was widespread, the team was very satisfied with itself and more than happy to celebrate their own greatness.

In the middle of the ecstasy, there was something lost, all of a sudden, in the hour of self-satisfaction - the flow. It's what the Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi would call "a state of intense concentration and total immersion in the activity," quite an accurate description Bayern before their championship win.

After the first of three targeted titles, Bayern were neither concentrated nor absorbed in their matches that followed the triumph in Berlin. Although they still controlled possession in these matches, they didn't get enough from their opponents or the games.

Their style did not appear to be simpler, but was more cumbersome and predictable. The movement was shorter with less energetic bursts of speed.

The feeling of invincibility was gone

At the root of the problem lay a mid-season break, which had been openly backed by coach Pep Guardiola and sporting director Matthias Sammer. It was all about recovering from burn-out and the need for rests before big challenges, they said.

The outcome was, however, that Guardiola made a lot of changes, the team played below average and the rest of league could smell the distortion of the competition. And even Bayern itself saw that this self-imposed break was a big mistake.

Everything was gone - the precious feelings in competitive sports of self-confidence, invincibility and the so-called automatics of the passing game. The flow was missing. The frantic search for it in the last few weeks came to no success at all.

Over two legs against Real Madrid, Bayern Munich were a pale shadow of themselves: lacking imagination in attack, unable to create chances from possession with glaring errors and lapses in concentration.

The model - Jupp Heynkes

Pep Guardiola could have made it much easier for himself. He would have only needed to copy the concept of his predecessor, Jupp Heynckes, who had also led the team to an early championship and prevailed by winning the treble.

So that's how this season will be a big flaw for Bayern Munich, despite the records and, perhaps, a double victory in the German Cup final against Borussia Dortmund (May 17). A mistake that could end up spurring Bayern on to do better next season.