Football: Pep Guardiola dealt final blow

Bayern's David Alaba, like his team, is spent after they were knocked out by Atletico Madrid on away goals, exiting the competition at the semi-final stage for the third time in a row.
Bayern's David Alaba, like his team, is spent after they were knocked out by Atletico Madrid on away goals, exiting the competition at the semi-final stage for the third time in a row.PHOTO: REUTERS
Bayern Munich's Xabi Alonso opened the scoring with a free kick, after the flight of the Spanish midfielder's shot was altered by a deflection off Atletico Madrid defender Jose Gimenez. Atletico forward Antoine Griezmann equalised with a valuable awa
Bayern Munich's Xabi Alonso opened the scoring with a free kick, after the flight of the Spanish midfielder's shot was altered by a deflection off Atletico Madrid defender Jose Gimenez. PHOTOS: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Bayern's David Alaba, like his team, is spent after they were knocked out by Atletico Madrid on away goals, exiting the competition at the semi-final stage for the third time in a row.
Atletico forward Antoine Griezmann equalised with a valuable away goal after he was put through one-on-one with Manuel Neuer, leaving Bayern needing to score three to progress. PHOTOS: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Bayern's David Alaba, like his team, is spent after they were knocked out by Atletico Madrid on away goals, exiting the competition at the semi-final stage for the third time in a row.
Bayern's Polish marksman Robert Lewandowski put his side back in front, heading past Jan Oblak from close range. But alas, it was too little too late, as the German side were made to rue Mueller's missed penalty.PHOTOS: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Guardiola's last season at Bayern ends with despair in Europe for third year running

MUNICH • Pep Guardiola squandered his "final bullet" on Tuesday as Bayern Munich were shot down by Atletico Madrid's men with golden guns.

Antoine Griezmann scored his 31st goal of a remarkable season to take Atletico through to their second Champions League final in three years on away goals (they won the semi-final first leg 1-0 in Spain). But it was the man supplying the team's ammunition who deserved the credit for masterminding another sensational achievement.

With his dark suit and air of menace, Diego Simeone could pass for a James Bond villain and European domination is now within his grasp.

 

Only an extra-time defeat by Real Madrid prevented Atletico from winning a Champions League and La Liga double two years ago and their neighbours would not relish a reunion in Milan this month if they beat Manchester City this morning (Singapore time).

"Life is not about revenge, but about new opportunities, and this is a new opportunity," Simeone said.

POURED HIS LIFE INTO THE CLUB

I've done my best. I've given my life to this club from the first minute to the last minute.

PEP GUARDIOLA, Bayern Munich manager, after failing to guide the German giants past the Champions League semi-finals in each of his three years at the club.

GIANT-KILLERS

It's just unbelievable what we have achieved. We have beaten two of the strongest teams in Europe - first Barcelona in the quarter-finals and now Bayern.

DIEGO SIMEONE, Atletico Madrid manager, on his team reaching their second Champions League final in three years.

  • 4 

    Pep Guardiola has been knocked out in his past four Champions League semi-finals.

    9 

    Antoine Griezmann is Atletico's top scorer in the Champions League with nine goals.

    2 

    Thomas Mueller has missed his last two penalties in the Champions League.

    632 

    Xabi Alonso's goal was the first time Atletico had conceded in 632 minutes in any competition.

Tuesday's extraordinary match in which Thomas Mueller and Fernando Torres missed penalties in Bayern's 2-1 win was worthy of a final. That will provide no consolation for Guardiola, who will leave Munich at the end of the season after three years, having failed to get past the last four in the competition that matters most to his employers.

After defeat in the first leg, he insisted: "I am not dead. After this match, everybody 'killed' me. But I am still here. I have one more bullet left."

But he is now shot. The celebrations if Bayern clinch Guardiola's third Bundesliga title at Ingolstadt on Saturday are likely to be muted and sadness permeated his valedictory address last night.

"I've done my best," he said.

"I've given my life to this club from the first minute to the last minute."

Bayern scarcely deserved to be eliminated after winning on a night when they mustered 37 attempts on goal. But neither did Atletico, whose resolve throughout an agonising five minutes of stoppage time was incredible to behold.

Simeone has added quality to his tenacious side of 2014, all with the same budget as England's Newcastle United, and euro for euro deserves to be acknowledged as the best manager in the world.

Bayern had enjoyed 70 per cent of possession and had 17 shots in the first half, but only had Xabi Alonso's deflected free kick to show for it after Jan Oblak saved Mueller's penalty.

Simeone's half-time response was to switch to 4-5-1 despite his side trailing. This seemingly counter-intuitive tactic worked, as Atletico scored in the 54th minute through the outstanding Griezmann, who slotted past Manuel Neuer when sent clear by Torres.

Robert Lewandowski restored Bayern's lead with a close-range header in the 74th minute, which set up the final siege.

Torres seemed to have found a way out when he was awarded a fortuitous penalty, but it was saved by Neuer, and it was left to his Atletico team-mates to spare his blushes.

"It was unbelievable how they (Bayern) played. It was great to see such intensity. I was literally in love with this game," said Simeone, who in his excitement appeared to strike his assistant Pedro Pablo Matesanz on the side of his left arm during the match.

"But we soaked up the pressure and we won the game. It's just unbelievable what we have achieved.

"We have beaten two of the strongest teams in Europe - first Barcelona in the quarter-finals and now Bayern."

Guardiola's players failed to provide such salvation for their manager who, harsh as it may seem, will leave Munich for Manchester City as something of a letdown.

When asked if he viewed his time in Munich as a failure despite winning five trophies so far, including two German league titles, the Spanish manager said: "Yes, in terms of what we have won.

"It was my goal to win the Champions League final with Bayern after doing it with Barcelona (in 2009 and 2011).

"Perhaps we have helped the players, maybe it's not enough, but it was the important thing for me."

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 05, 2016, with the headline 'Pep dealt final blow'. Print Edition | Subscribe