Expert Interview: Are Bayern a better side this season than under Jupp?

After the success of our interviews in the quarter-finals of the Champions League with experts of each of the 8 teams, we have decided to speak to more experts of the remaining four competing teams, to get a better understanding of how they see the ties, and what we can expect. You can read our previous interviews here.

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The expert for this interview is Lucas Swain. He has worked for the likes of FourFourTwo, Squawka and Footy Accumulators while also appearing on TalkSport.

It’s the question that is being asked by everyone, are Bayern a better side this season than under Jupp?

Well, the answer to this can be defined as subjective. This Bayern won the league quicker and in a much more impressive manner than that of Heynckes, but since then they’ve looked poor.

Bayern’s league form has been very worrying of late which has led to Sammer speaking out about the squad – not for the first time this season, either. His beliefs are the squad is too nice to each other and it’s resulted in this lax attitude where they’ve dropped points. These games have been rendered pointless by many, but winning becomes a habit and it’s a good one to be in.

The problem with the current side is how exposed they are at the back. Bayern’s most useful form of defence is their possession, but that’s not a safe game to play. When Bayern play against a good offensive team and/or a team who press they’ve been punished and will continue to do so unless they improve at the back.

So, who is better? It’s hard to say. But some notable figureheads are not in favour of the football philosophy Guardiola is trying to impose.

Bayern struggled to break down Manchester United in the quarter-finals with question marks raised over their capabilities. Could a solid defence keep them at bay?

My personal response to question marks of Bayern’s performance was that it was easy to criticise – 9/10 men in the box is extremely hard to break down. However, there did seem to be a dearth or idea at times, but when Man Utdwere forced to open up Bayern danced through them. Nonetheless, Guardiola’s sides – both Bayern and Barcelona – do tend to struggle against sides who park the bus.

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Ronaldo and Bale have been in the form of their careers this season. What measures need to be taken to keep them under control? Could Lahm & Alaba’s attacking influence be effected too?

Bayern will look to utilize their possession to stop Ronadlo and Bale – the most effective way to stop them is to starve them of the ball. But Bayern are susceptible to counter-attacking football which both Bale and Ronaldo thrive on, so they should prove problematic either way.

Given Real Madrid’s own problems at the back, I can’t imagine Lahm and Alaba’s influence going forward will be reduced too much. When Bayern are in possession we’ll see them take up the fullback-come-central midfielder role we’ve seen often this season. This tie has the potential to be a shoot-out between Bayern and Madrid – both sides’ weaknesses play to the other’s strengths.

Does Pep Guardiola need to adopt more direct tactics to succeed in the Champions League?

I wouldn’t say so. Guardiola’s sides can be ‘found out’ by teams who do play extremely deep, but when Mandzukic plays Bayern do become much more direct. Often this season the Croat has come off the bench and rescued Bayern – see Manchester United away as case and point.

What’s the biggest advantage that Bayern Munich have over Real Madrid?

Real Madrid struggle to defend. The Galaticos may be impeccable going forward, but a sea of Bavarian red hammering Sergio Ramos, Pepe and co. could end in yet more red. Blood or cards, take that as you will…