Pep Guardiola's three-year career as Bayern Munich manager is coming to an end. On Tuesday the Catalan will coach his final Champions League game in the Allianz Arena, and if he's able to defeat Atlético Madrid, he'll finally have a chance of winning the European Cup as the Bavarians' boss.
Champions League winner or not, Guardiola's time in Munich has been a resounding success. Bayern's motive behind Pep's appointment was simple: to create an identity for the team while winning trophies. The trophies have come: two Bundesliga titles, a German Cup trophy, an European Super Cup and a Club World Cup are already in the bag after his first two season, and he has a real chance of ending his Bayern stint with a Treble.
Pep was also successful at creating an identity for Bayern. And it is not a German version of Barcelona; it's its own thing, a style built in the ideas and philosophies of the coach, but completely adapted to the way football is played in Germany. Pep's Bayern is incredible and historical already, and will be even more legendary if the third season finally ends with a Champions League trophy.
There is no fair way in which Guardiola's Bayern is defined by his success (or lack there of) in the European Cup. Yet that's how it's going to be judged, and it is Pep's personal challenge to answer the critics, inside and outside his head.
Yes, this is going to be a REALLY good match.
Attack. This is the word for Guardiola and his men. Thomas Müller was benched for most of the first leg, but we know that's not going to happen at the Allianz Arena. Müller is just too important to play for anything less than 90 minutes, and he is even better when play at home. Robert Lewandowski was quiet in the first leg, but he needs a big night on Tuesday to finish his incredible season in a big way.
Douglas Costa and Kingsley Coman are the only available wingers because of injuries to the Robery duo, and they are also huge for Bayern to provide width and try and stretch Atleti's defense to a point where Simeone's men just have to concede space. Thiago Alcântara wasn't at his best at the Calderón, and it might be a good idea to keep him on the bench to come in against tired legs from the Colchoneros.
Guardiola gets a big boost on defense with the return of Jerome Boateng, who is set to start and bring strength and physicality to the Bayern back four. David Alaba and Philipp Lahm will be huge to win the midfield battle as both help Xabi Alonso to keep possession and distribute from the back, and the performances from these three will dictate Bayern's showing on Tuesday.
It's almost impossible to break down Atlético, especially when the first leg advantage gives them the opportunity to defend for 90 minutes, but after a very good second half in the Calderón, Bayern have shown they can score at least once at home to book a place in the Milan Final.
We already know what Atleti will do, and there's no point in analyzing them again after five incredible years of Diego Simeone's work. There are few clubs in history more deserving of an European Cup than this Atlético side, and they will defend their entire history on Wednesday. We know they're good on that, regardless of where the game will be played or how great the opponent is. We're in for a sensational performance from the Colchoneros defense, that's for sure. We just need to find out if it'll be enough to stop the best scoring offense in the Champions League for a second straight match.
Bayern (4-1-4-1): Neuer | Lahm, Boateng, Alaba, Bernat | Alonso | Coman, Müller, Vidal, Costa | Lewandowski
Atlético (4-4-2): Oblak | Juanfran, Godín, Giménez, Luís | Saúl, Gabi, Augusto, Koke | Griezmann, Torres
I really don't know who's going to the Final and I'm not rooting for a team because I love both for different reasons, but I think Pep's too invested in validating his Bayern job with a Champions League to let this one slip away: 2-0 Bayern.