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'Special moment'

Revelry only brief for maestro Pep

For a brief moment a weight fell from Pep Guardiola’s shoulders and he could contain his emotions no longer. When Mario Götze made the score 2–0 less than a quarter of an hour into Tuesday’s match in Berlin, the boss raised his arms in joy and even allowed himself a triumphant smile. But only for a couple of seconds. Guardiola immediately snapped back into work mode, issuing detailed instructions to David Alaba – and he only smiled again at ten minutes to ten when his first German championship with Bayern was 100 percent confirmed.

“It’s a very special moment for me,” said the 43-year-old after the match at Berlin Olympic stadium. He thanked Uli Hoeneß, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Matthias Sammer “for the opportunity to coach these outstanding players.” Guardiola, it is universally acknowledged, is a modest, unassuming and stylish gentleman. Naturally the Spaniard awarded himself no words of praise – but others did, including Matthias Sammer.

“Let me emphasise that it absolutely wasn’t easy for Pep Guardiola to pick up where Jupp Heynckes left off last season and make a few important adjustments,” commented the board director for sport. “Guardiola is a wonderful fit with this club and this team. He’s not just a true expert, he’s a fantastic human being.“ Rummenigge recently described Guardiola as “a real stroke of luck for FC Bayern.”

Quest for perfection

The players who train under the Spaniard on a day-to-day basis confirmed what the management thinks. “We’re delighted we have Pep Guardiola. He’s bringing us on,” said Manuel Neuer. Team-mate Toni Kroos described the boss, who has now collected his first championship title outside Spain, as “unbelievably committed, meticulous and thorough. On top of that he’s human and likeable. The way he works with us is really impressive.“

Bayern played festival football under Heynckes last season, but it is no accident that Guardiola has succeeded in raising FCB’s game to a new level in many respects. “Our transitions are even quicker when we have possession, and we switch straight to pressing when we need to win the ball back,” explained Kroos. Arjen Robben thinks the biggest change is that today’s Bayern “want to be even more dominant and create even more attacking pressure.”

Regardless of what now happens in the Champions League and domestic cup, Guardiola’s first season is already exceptional. “It’s hardly easy taking over a team that’s just won the treble,” Kroos pointed out. Guardiola has found precisely the right methods to continue an extraordinary run of success, and his first Bundesliga title with Bayern is the reward. But how did the coach celebrate? “With a little red wine and a little white wine,” he said, although nothing more extravagant than that. Pep is Pep. He still has work to do!