When it was announced that current Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola would replace Jupp Heynckes as Bayern Munich coach in 2013, European football stood up to take notice of the record German champions' intent.
The Catalan already had one of the most impressive CVs in the game, having led Barcelona to Spain's La Liga title three years in a row, and guided them to two UEFA Champions League crowns. In three bountiful years in Bavaria, he polished it off to perfection.
A third UEFA Super Cup was followed by an outright record third FIFA Club World Cup within his first six months in the Bayern hot-seat. A hat-trick of Bundesliga titles, making him the first foreign coach to win Germany's top flight three times and the first of any nationality to dominate Germany's domestic game in his first three campaigns, and two DFB Cups swelled his personal trophy cabinet.
The glut of silverware did not tell the full story of the legacy Guardiola left when he moved to Manchester in 2016, however.
After top-secret talks with Bayern decision-makers Uli Hoeneß and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Guardiola's appointment was announced in January 2013, as Heynckes insisted it would be his last year in football management. "As a worthy successor to Jupp Heynckes, only a coach of Pep Guardiola's calibre comes into question," said Hoeneß.
"Pep Guardiola is one of the most successful coaches in the world, and we're certain he will add great flair to both Bayern Munich and German football. We're looking forward to the partnership from July 2013," added Rummenigge.
Six months later, Guardiola's impact was immediate.
In a packed Allianz Arena auditorium, with the eyes of world football trained on the biggest managerial appointment in years, Guardiola sat back in a seat still scolding from the departure of treble-winning Heynckes and said: "Guten Tag und Grüß Gott" – good morning and hello in the local twang.
Guardiola had half a year to prepare for his new job, and among the hours inevitably spent analysing the players and team he would inherit, he had found the time to learn German. An excellent first impression set a suitable tone for the three glorious years that followed.
"I'm ready," Guardiola continued. "My time at Barcelona was wonderful but I needed a new challenge. Bayern gave me that opportunity."
A measure of how big that challenge would be came in his first official game in charge, a 4-2 defeat to Jürgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund in the DFL Supercup. However, Bayern had won their first three Bundesliga fixtures and drawn their next when Chelsea were beaten in the UEFA Super Cup, and Guardiola's first title in Munich duly arrived.
The record champions went on to win 15 of his first 18 games in charge – a club record matched only in 2020 by Hansi Flick. That run included a revengeful 3-0 at Dortmund, substantial 4-0 at Schalke and formidable 7-0 at Werder Bremen.
With Thiago Alcantara – the one player Guardiola was insistent on signing upon arrival in Munich – the pivot in a 4-1-4-1 formation, propping up the ludicrous richness of Franck Ribery, Toni Kroos, Mario Götze and Thomas Müller, with Arjen Robben – fitness permitting – providing a deadly alternative, and with Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger offering tactical flexibility in front of the defence, with 4-2-3-1 becoming the norm towards the end of his first season with Bayern, Guardiola had a wealth of talent to choose from.
A painful 5-0 aggregate defeat to Real Madrid – like salt to a gaping wound of the former Barca coach – in the semi-finals of the Champions League was the only blot on a copybook, coming after Bayern had wrapped up the title in record time, after just 27 Matchdays, and gone on to win by 19 points from Dortmund, scoring 94 goals for their 90 points – just one shy of their league record from the previous season. Their 28-game unbeaten run from the start of the season remains a league record.
DFL Supercup revenge over Dortmund was to follow at the start of Guardiola's second season, which signalled the start of another era in Munich – that of a certain Robert Lewandowski. He was still only warming up with seven goals, and Bayern 11 points clear, when they fell to their first defeat of the season on Matchday 18. That 4-1 loss to nearest challengers Wolfsburg saw Guardiola make a mental note of a certain Kevin De Bruyne, influential with a brace for the Wolves.
Bayern remained untouchable on German soil, but a 3-0 defeat at Camp Nou, Guardiola's former home, led to similar pain in Spain as Barcelona ended his hopes of winning the Champions League with a second club, and De Bruyne reinforced his reputation by helping Wolfsburg beat Bayern in the DFB Cup final.
Another record was achieved at the start of Guardiola's final season on the Bayern bench, with his side winning their first 10 games before drawing 0-0 at Eintracht Frankfurt. By that stage, it was already clear that another Bundesliga title was heading Bayern's and Guardiola's way, but could they go a step further in Europe?
Bayern marched into the semi-finals, where they were once again given Spanish opposition, and a trip to the Iberian peninsula yet again proved fatal, with a 1-0 loss at Atletico Madrid. Though Bayern levelled the tie numerically at the Allianz Arena, a 2-1 win was not enough to avoid elimination on away goals.
A 3-1 win over Hannover on the final day of the season saw Guardiola chalk up his 82nd win in 102 Bundesliga fixtures in charge of Bayern, equating to a win percentage of 80.4 percent. Flick bettered that with 87.5 percent in 2019/20, albeit from his first 24 games in charge, while you have to go down to Ottmar Hitfeld's 58.4 percent to find the Bayern coach with the next best record.
Watch: Guardiola gets a 'beerful' after completing Bundesliga hat-trick
Guardiola’s Bayern scored 254 goals in 102 league matches – a Bundesliga record – and they conceded just 58 goals in total, at an average of 0.6 per game. He combined a ruthless attack with a mean defence, with no coach who has taken charge of more than two league games boasting a better defensive record, which includes 59 clean sheets.
He bade Bayern and Germany farewell with his seventh trophy, a DFB Cup win over a Dortmund side who simply could not get close enough to the Catalan's all-conquering, record-breaking, era-defining team.
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