Pep Guardiola and the 94 passes

PEP GUARDIOLA saw the first real fruits of his Bayern revolution in Manchester on October 2 last year. During their 3-1 Champions League victory over Manchester City at the Etihad, his players finally executed the possession-based football he had been drilling them in since the summer.

The performance led Bayern president Uli Hoeness to comment. “For 80 minutes we played perfect football – the best football I’ve seen in my life.”

In an exclusive extract from Pep Confidential: The Inside Story of Pep Guardiola’s First Season at Bayern Munich, author Martí Perarnau describes an incredible passage of play in the second half which summed up the German side’s dominance over Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

“Then, in the 65th minute, Bayern lay on a gigantic rondo – a succession of passes which astonishes the world of football for its precision, speed and duration. During nearly three-and-a-half minutes, Bayern put together 94 passes involving all 10 outfield players. The team pass the ball for more than 200 seconds during which time the Etihad Stadium goes silent and the City players pretty much surrender.

“During this succession of passes the ball bounces off the English defenders twice, it is deflected by Clichy once and Jesús Navas wins it back once, but manages to keep it in City’s possession for only seven seconds before Lahm robs it back with a brilliant tackle.

“All in all it’s so spectacular that that very night various YouTube users put all 3 minutes 27 seconds up on the internet – sometimes with accelerated motion and accompanied by the theme tune from The Benny Hill Show.

“The giant rondo sums up what Pep has been asking his players to learn how to do. The stats tell the story: Toni Kroos passes the ball 18 times in this one action, then Robben (14), Schweinsteiger (13), Ribéry (12), Rafinha (11) and Lahm (10). The defenders and centre-forward have been involved slightly less – Boateng (7 passes), Alaba (6), Müller (2), Dante (1).”