While arguing Josep Guardiola's strategy against FC Porto, whether it was an arbitrary decision or a mathematical need, I said one thing was for sure, and that was that Guardiola had deviated from his historical practice. A quasi-Jupp Heynckes strategy, which has Guardiola's traditional passing dominance but also has an unusually fast and direct finishing style, was never a goal scoring option for him in his Barcelona days. Nevertheless, I believe he would not have been able to beat Porto with six goals if he had chosen to stick to his formal plan. What made the game so open was his decision to play the game wide, both vertically and horizontally in the opponent's half. However, as I noted, it is a great strategy against teams like Porto, who stay in their own half and look for a counter, but teams that try to dominate the game and force you to play in narrow spaces were always going to be a real challenge for Guardiola. Thus, it was not a surprise for me to see Munich struggling to find opportunities and seemingly imprisoned in their own half.
Luis Enrique, who has been managing Barcelona since the beginning of the season, did not make a drastic change in his team's settled strategy. The strategy that has been raised by Johan Cruyff, Frank Rijkaard and Josep Guardiola, in other words "tiki-taka," still is the main strategy for Barca, and Guardiola simply lost the game against a strategy that carried him to the top. Of course, I will not ignore the huge impact of Lionel Messi on the game but if his team had not pushed Munich into their own half and forced them to play in a narrow space he would not have scored two goals. For instance, Tito Villanova, Pep Guardiola's successor, chose a much more conservative and traditional strategy throughout his season in charge and unfortunately Barca's journey in the Champions League ended in disaster. Thus, despite the fact that the media forgot the historical background of Barcelona's game and gave all the credit to Lionel Messi, this game was a result of an architecture forged by many coaches over the years. It was an old one, but a good one.
However, the logic behind this strategy is very simple. Bayern, who try to combine Heynckes' and Guardiola's strategy, actually were never challenged by such a dominant strategy. Thus, Barca's decisive victory means a lot, especially in terms of how to use space and time. When dominant team gets the ball, naturally it leaves the opponent two options; fighting fire with fire, pressing the dominant team and heightening the tension, or staying in their own half and waiting for a quick counter attack. I guess everyone expected Guardiola and his team to choose the former, but until the second half it was kind of the latter. Of course, Bayern's new combination does not have as historical a background as Barca's, thus it is normal for them to receive these kind of losses. Guardiola must have seen that such his direct and wide attacking style is not suitable for every opponent.
I like Ter Stegen's style, he has good reflexes and learned to play the ball efficiently at Barca. Nevertheless, for a team like Barcelona, which mostly plays in the opponent's half and leaves empty spaces in their own half, Claudio Bravo is the right choice. A goalkeeper has to act like a playmaker in Barcelona's game and he obviously has better foot skills than Ter Stegen and he is a lot quicker, which makes him able to cover his defenders' mistakes. Using both goalkeepers is a nice solution and I have no problems with it, but if I had to choose one, I would pick Bravo.
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