With Bayern Munich already champions of the Bundesliga, it’s no secret where their priorities now lie.
With a wide-open Champions League second leg due midweek, manager Pep Guardiola named a much-weakened side against Augsburg in the league yesterday, and it resulted in their first defeat since 2012.
Arjen Robben, Philipp Lahm, and Franck Ribery weren’t even in the matchday squad, while Dante and Jerome Boateng were unused substitutes. Mario Gotze, Thomas Mueller, and Xherdan Shaqiri were brought off the bench.
Following the match, Guardiola was heavily criticized by many in the Bundesliga.
Eintracht Frankfurt manager Armin Veh told German media he believed Pep’s teamsheet was an insult to the Bundesliga and he got what he deserved.
“Of course you can lose against Augsburg,” said Veh. “But when I look at his lineup, I must say, he sealed his own fortune.”
The Bundesliga manager also said it’s not good for the competitive balance of the league. “If you do that against teams that play for the Europa League places or against relegation, I think that’s not good.”
Veh wasn’t the only one to comment on the selection. Schalke sporting director Horst Heldt, often in the media speaking on the future of his young star Julian Draxler, had a more humorous tone about Pep’s lineup.
“This is not a good look [for Bayern Munich]. Maybe they’ve got a lot of injuries.” Yeah, that’s it.
Guardiola defended his selection, saying, “If this had been important, then Philipp, Franck, and Arjen would all have been here. The Bundesliga is over – that’s in Bayern’s trophy case already and is staying there.”
For Pep, the risk is not just a loss in the Bundesliga but more importantly a loss of momentum. Bayern have not won in a three-match stretch across all competitions, an eternity for this dream team.
Was Guardiola right to rest his stars with the second leg against Manchester United coming up? Or should he have gone for an unbeaten league season and a win heading into their midweek match?