Bundesliga

The Carlo show: where Ancelotti's Bayern title-winners surpass Pep Guardiola's

As he has been doing all season, Robert Lewandowski was at the double to inspire Bayern Munich to another Bundesliga title. Sound familiar? That's because it has happened in each of the last two seasons.

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On 7 May 2016, the Pole scored twice in a hard-fought 2-1 win at Ingolstadt as Pep Guardiola rounded off his spell in Bavaria with another Bundesliga crown. Fast forward just under a year, to 29 April 2017, and Lewandowski was at it again, netting two in the Bavarians' 6-0 win at Wolfsburg that wrapped up a fifth consecutive league title, a first for Carlo Ancelotti in Germany.

Watch: hear Lewandowski's reaction to another title in the video below:

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As Lewandowski scored a brace in victories that sealed those two titles, one might assume there was little to choose between the league-winning campaigns – Guardiola's last; Ancelotti's first – but in fact, upon closer inspection, there are three key reasons why the Italian managed to bring the title to Munich faster than his Catalan predecessor did last season.

Firstly, 'Carletto' has trusted in his experienced, older players; secondly, he has established a relaxed, hands-off atmosphere at the Allianz Arena; and thirdly, he has made several subtle, but effective, tactical tweaks.

Perhaps in keeping with his Italian roots, Ancelotti has firmly placed his faith in Bayern's old guard. Xabi Alonso, Philipp Lahm, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery may have a combined age of over 135, but they have richly rewarded Ancelotti's trust.

Alonso and Lahm have demonstrated once again that speed of thought outdoes fleet of foot every time, while old pals Robben and Ribery – Robbery – have scored a combined 15 Bundesliga goals this term, compared to just six last time out.

- © Imago

The champions have fired in 79 goals in 31 games so far and, with three games left, are on course to surpass the 80 goals that Guardiola's Bayern scored in 2015/16. Lewandowski has enjoyed another superlative campaign: the Pole, currently on 28 goals, is once again eyeing the Torjägerkanone and improving on last term's total of 30.

Ribery is another example of the benefits of Ancelotti's hands-off approach, telling German magazine kicker earlier in the campaign that he would "eat grass" for his new coach. "Ancelotti knows how to manage his players," he said. "I'm pleased he is here because he's just the right man for us." The proof is in the pudding: under Ancelotti, the Frenchman has doubled last season's goal tally.

Even Thomas Müller, who has featured less than in previous seasons, remains customarily full of cheer, if the evidence in the video below is anything to go by.

Watch: Thomas Müller promises plenty of celebration for Bayern following a fifth consecutive Bundesliga title:

- © gettyimages / Alex Grimm/Bongarts

Ancelotti's light touch drew praise from Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge following last weekend's title win. "Carlo is an outstanding, experienced coach," said Rummenigge. "He's done very well this season, otherwise we wouldn't be standing here as champions three games before the end of the season. We have a coach in whom we trust implicitly."

Thirdly, if there have been smiles all round at Bayern this term, it has been in large part due to on-field performances: Ancelotti's hands-off approach with his players has translated into a number of subtle, but effective tactical tweaks.

Watch: Ancelotti shares his delight at his first Bundesliga title:

Tying in with his fondness for older players, Robben and Ribery have been restored to the flanks – Robben on the right, Ribery on the left. Playing as inverted wingers and cutting inside has not only been the catalyst for the rush of goals – as demonstrated by Robben's typical strike in Wolfsburg – but has also created space out wide for Lahm and David Alaba, the overlapping full-backs, who have thrived this term.

Indeed, in the space vacated by Robben and Ribery's drifts inside, Lahm and Alaba have been able to deliver countless crosses for Lewandowski and, in Robben and Ribery (who come inside, as opposed to Douglas Costa and Coman who, under Guardiola, stayed wide), there are two extra men to meet the ball in and around the area (see Ribery's opener against Borussia Dortmund in Der Klassiker for proof).

Watch: click play on the video below for highlights of Bayern's Bundesliga win against Dortmund:

On top of that, Thiago has been pushed forward into a classic number ten role where he has enjoyed his finest season since arriving at the club in 2013. The Spaniard has thrived in the advanced position behind Lewandowski, scoring five goals and returning as many assists in a remarkable campaign.

And then, of course, there is the aforementioned, peerless Lewandowski up front, on fire again this term. It might be a prudent investment to back the Pole scoring twice at some point next April to seal another title for the Bundesliga's most affable Italian coach, who continues to do things his own way - quietly and successfully.

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