1 Set Kroos loose
Toni Kroos, out for the past two months with a groin injury, has played the majority of the campaign at the tip of Bayern’s midfield triangle, drifting into deeper positions to help retain position, then scampering forward to create overloads in the final third. As Bayern struggled to get the ball past Dortmund’s first-half pressing on Saturday night, they missed Kroos’ positional intelligence. Kroos’ technical brilliance is unquestionable, but Pep Guardiola will appreciate his movement and selflessness– and there’s a feeling that the 23-year-old German playmaker can become even better. The new manager might be pleased Kroos missed the European Cup final through injury – he, more than anyone, will have the hunger to ensure Bayern reach the final in Lisbon next year, and he could become Guardiola’s most important player.
2 Find the ideal role for Götze
As the injured Mario Götze cheered on Dortmund from the sidelines at Wembley, he must have wondered quite where he will fit in at Bayern when he completes his €37m transfer later this summer. It seems most likely that Guardiola will deploy the 20-year-old as a false nine – the highest attacker up the pitch, but more of a No10 than a No9. Lionel Messi’s development into one of the all-time great footballers came after Guardiola moved him into that central role, and Götze has experience of playing as a false nine for Germany, showcasing his direct dribbling, but also proving he has an eye for goal. There may be further signings, but with Götze and Kroos set to play significant roles, Guardiola’s regular selection will be significantly different to the XI that started on Saturday.
3 Perfect the back-three alternative
As Dortmund pressed with intensity at the beginning of the final, Bayern were forced back. By half-time they had completed twice as many passes as Dortmund, but the vast majority were close to their own goal. In response, Bastian Schweinsteiger dropped into the centre of defence to form a back three, but this didn’t help Bayern work the ball forward. Under Guardiola, Barcelona often dropped Sergio Busquets back into the centre of defence, but there was more certainty about the way the entire side shifted between the two formations.
Bayern’s problem was that Thomas Müller, the attacking midfielder, didn’t drop deep to offer an easy forward passing option – under Guardiola, who experimented with a back-three starting formation during his final season at Barça, Bayern will look more fluent when a midfielder drops back, and Javi Martínez is a better fit there than Schweinsteiger.
4 When to use an orthodox No9
On Saturday, Guardiola was probably watching both his future strikers – Dortmund’s Robert Lewandowski is expected to follow Götze to Bayern, to provide competition for the first goalscorer Mario Mandzukic.
While Guardiola became famous for his distrust of traditional strikers at Barcelona, he broke the club’s transfer record to sign Zlatan Ibrahimovic, in the belief Barça needed a static central striker to offer variety and directness to their buildup play. His personal relationship with the Swede deteriorated quickly, but both Mandzukic and Lewandowski are more hard-working than Ibrahimovic, and Mandzukic is particularly adept at pressing from the front, then dropping back to make Bayern compact without the ball. Götze may start many games up front, but the pursuit of another top-class No9 suggests Guardiola will regularly use a player in that mould.
5 Encourage cohesive movement
For Guardiola’s Barcelona, what initially appeared to be sporadic drifts from attackers given licence to roam freely was actually incredibly detailed, pre-planned, integrated movement that originated from the training ground. Guardiola places big emphasis upon covering space efficiently – this gives his side a variety of options in possession and fully stretches the opposition, but also means the players are distributed evenly across the pitch, and therefore in a position to press without leaving gaps.
One area in which Bayern can improve when they have got the ball is their movement off it. Robben and Müller switched position to great effect in the second half, but that type of rotation will become much more regular under Guardiola. With Müller, Kroos and Götze all highly versatile, Bayern will become even more unpredictable when attacking.