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Europe remained a bridge too far for Guardiola’s Bayern

By Reuters - May 04,2016 - Last updated at May 04,2016

Bayern’s head coach Pep Guardiola walks during the Champions League second leg semifinal football match against Atletico de Madrid in Munich, Germany, on Tuesday (AP photo by Matthias Schrader)

BERLIN — Departing Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola has been assured a bittersweet farewell at the German club with the pending celebration of a record fourth straight Bundesliga title soured by another failure to shine on the European stage.

For the third season in a row, Bayern crashed out of the Champions League in the semifinals to Spanish opposition on Tuesday, a 2-1 victory over Atletico Madrid not enough to prevent the Bavarians from losing on the away goals rule.

The Spaniard, who will join Manchester City next season, can still win two more trophies, the league and German Cup, but he will not go down as one of Bayern’s all-time great coaches, having never conquered Europe during his three-year stint.

His failure to clinch the Champions League means he will be unable to become the fifth Bayern coach to lift the continent’s most prestigious trophy, with the man he succeeded among the elite quartet to have achieved that feat.

Jupp Heynckes was told midway through the 2012-13 season that his contract would not be renewed to make way for Guardiola, who had taken a 12-month sabbatical after claiming 14 trophies in an astonishing four-year reign at Barcelona.

The German coach was unhappy at the way he was treated by Bayern but still went on to win their first-ever treble in 2013, and expectations were sky-high when Guardiola arrived in a whirlwind of media attention.

The 45-year-old enjoyed unprecedented freedom from Bayern club bosses from day one but his departure after the German Cup final later this month will be a far more subdued affair.

European exploits

“Of course, it was my aim to win this competition here,” said Guardiola, who led Barcelona to a pair of Champions League victories during his trophy-laden tenure in Spain.

“We tried our best and played as well as we could. But I am happy with my time here, I have enjoyed it here. We wanted to win the Cup but it does not change my time here.”

Guardiola’s success at Munich was always going to be measured by his exploits in Europe and three successive failures at the penultimate hurdle will cast a shadow over an otherwise stellar performance on the domestic front.

“Titles are just statistics. I can just tell you that I gave everything for my players. I worked hard to adapt to the Bundesliga and make my players better. I have no regrets,” he said.

Guardiola can still usher in a record fourth consecutive league title this week and add a German Cup to the five trophies he captured in his first two years in Germany but while he has no regrets, his captain does.

“We have to look forward now,” Philipp Lahm said. “We can win the league title and then also have the Cup final [against Borussia Dortmund].

 

“It can still become a good season but it is sad that we could not reward our coach and his coaching team with a goodbye in the [Champions League] final.” 

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