Pep Guardiola came into Bayern Munich this year saying that he was NOT going to completely transform Bayern into the German Barcelona. However, after their Audi Cup performance, we’re seeing a very different story. The list of what we’ve seen so far: dominating Barcelona in possession (the first time that has happened to them in 5 years), quick one-twos through the middle, a majority of attack through the middle and a high defensive line. Pep has even taken it so far, that he used short corners against Manchester City, even with the dominant height advantage. Whether the inclusion of Baycerlona is something good for the Bundesliga, it’s not good for a top striker who is used to playing the exact opposite.
The story started off against Hamburg:
Mandžukić does not find it worth his time to attack the player receiving the ball from the throw in, while Pep wants players to challenge every play. We saw a similar situation unfold in Barcelona, when Zlatan Ibrahimović had the same lackadaisical attitude at times. Zlatan felt like it was better to save his legs for attack, than to chase after every ball in the back. Zlatan’s playing percentages that have worked for him year after year, while Pep is trying to instill a system requiring an “ALL IN” attitude from every player. Sadly enough, it looks like the same problem is about to arise at Barcelona.
Luckily, Mandžukić backed up his attitude by putting in all of these:
Mandžukić vs Sao Paulo
Mandžukić vs Manchester City
Mandžukić vs Barcelona
Like him or not, Mandžukić is a natural goal scorer. His success hinged on the fact that Bayern loved to attack, and Mandzo got a lot of looks. Mandžukić’s success also stemmed from the fact that when he touched the ball, he had a high probability of scoring or just putting the shot on frame. With Pep, Bayern are facing a lot less wing play, a more patient attack and mounting frustration for a striker who is used to a more voracious attack. Fortunately, Mandza is stilling finding ways to score with less looks. Unfortunately, Pep has a bad history with players (especially strikers) from Eastern Europe.
The situation is a ticking time bomb. Mandžukić is going to need to keep scoring consistently throughout the year so that Pep does not have a reason to bench him. Once Mario starts slumping, watch for sparks to fly!