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The debate on Guardiola’s brand of football

AS AS 03/05/2014 Alfredo Relaño

I think the overwhelming defeat Madrid inflicted on Bayern is has stirred up an exaggerated reaction and in my opinion, has provoked a very blurred take on the different styles of football and their effectiveness. Tata Martino’s comments in yesterday’s press conferences are just one example: “Criticizing Guardiola is akin to wanting Spain to lose” - as was how easily Bayern seem to have lost faith in the system or Guardiola’s own willingness to sacrifice himself to defend his model which, after explaining that the underlying logic for losing the game 4-0 was for ceding too much possession to their rivals. In short, it’s a betrayal of a style of football.

The possession-based approach is an excellent one, it’s attractive to watch, intelligent and has brought many glorious victories to our national side (for me, the most radical changes were made by Luis Aragonés) and Barça. All of us have gleefully revelled in watching those matches. So don’t worry Martino, we will continue to be happy when Spain win. It’s completely different for someone to think that it’s the only way of playing football. Football can be played in whole host of ways – some more stingy than others, some more generous and between the two, styles which are dynamic and others, more considered. None of them are capable of plucking the holy souls from purgatory. It’s only football.

It’s another thing entirely to think you can do the same things with Xavi, Iniesta and Messi in the side as without them. In the same way, it would be ridiculous to force those three into playing a physical, long-ball game. It was intriguing to see whether Barça’s short-passing system could be exported and employed at Bayern – in the minds of their fans, and their rivals, it means something else. It’s a risky experiment and those who have decided to apply it (Beckenbauer and company) are the ones who have the least rights to start complaining. The real debate is whether this style is suitable for Bayern with the players they have on board. It’s not the system that is in doubt, or the coach who decides to use it, what is worth scrutinizing is why the match ended 4-0...

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