Pep Guardiola has a history of complacency when the league is already won

Pep Guardiola has done tremendous work at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now Manchester City in the league, winning six titles in eight seasons.

A seventh is almost guaranteed for Manchester City this season, but Pep has meanwhile struggled in Europe with the resources at his disposal, failing to get past the semi-finals of the Champions League in his past five seasons.

As the semi-finals are played in April when the league has already been wrapped up, will we see this Manchester City side also slip into complacency in April?

Manchester City have lost two of their last three games in cup competitions and they’ve lost their last two games in the Champions League.
Manchester City have lost two of their last three games in cup competitions and they’ve lost their last two games in the Champions League.

Bayern Munich 2013-14

Pep won the league comfortably during his first season at Bayern Munich, dropping just six points between August and April with three draws and 24 wins.

His first loss in the league came away to Augsburg on April 5 with a much changed side, as Pep was resting his star players for the Champions League quarter-final games against Manchester United either side of that weekend.

Bayern lost the following weekend in the league at home to Borussia Dortmund. This 3-0 defeat was the only time they dropped points at home in the league that year. But worryingly, Pep had fielded his strongest side against Bayern’s league rivals and it was still not enough.

Bayern would go on to lose 5-0 on aggregate over both legs against Real Madrid in the following weeks.

Bayern Munich 2013-14. Bun-Bundesliga. DFP- DFP Pokal Cup. UCL- Champions League.
Bayern Munich 2013-14. Bun-Bundesliga. DFP- DFP Pokal Cup. UCL- Champions League.

Bayern Munich 2014-15

The following year, Bayern Munich again wrapped up the league early and would go on to lose three of their final four league games in May.

A much rotated side lost to Bayern Leverkusen on May 2, with the semi-final game against Barcelona to come the following midweek.

Barcelona beat Bayern 3-0 at the Nou Camp, meaning Munich’s 3-2 win at home a week later was not enough to win the tie and they lost 5-3 on aggregate.

Bayern lost to Freiburg in the league in their last game of the season to cap off five losses in under a month for the German champions.

Bayern Munich 2014-15. Bun-Bundesliga. DFP- DFP Pokal Cup. UCL- Champions League.
Bayern Munich 2014-15. Bun-Bundesliga. DFP- DFP Pokal Cup. UCL- Champions League.

Bayern Munich 2015-16

In his third and final season in Bavaria, Pep Guardiola learnt his lesson and continued to play his strongest eleven in the league through April and May, resting them only once for the league game between the two semi-final ties.

It was all for nought as he lost in the semi-finals of the Champions League but their loss to Atletico was their only defeat in April and May across all competitions and Bayern would go on to win the final two games in the league with their strongest eleven.

Bayern Munich 2015-16. Bun-Bundesliga. DFP- DFP Pokal Cup. UCL- Champions League.
Bayern Munich 2015-16. Bun-Bundesliga. DFP- DFP Pokal Cup. UCL- Champions League.

Manchester City 2017-18

With the league wrapped up, the EFL Cup already in the trophy cabinet and an early exit from the FA Cup under their belt, the Champions League is all Manchester City now have to play for.

Here are Manchester City’s potential fixtures for the rest of the season:

Potential Manchester City fixtures for the remainder of the season.
Potential Manchester City fixtures for the remainder of the season.

With the double already secured, the Champions League trophy would cap off a remarkable treble for Pep. But he still has potentially five Champions League games remaining to focus on in addition to eight Premier League fixtures.

The league could be officially wrapped up at home to Manchester United on April 7, but the quarter-final legs come either side of this fixture.

At this stage of the European tournament, Pep cannot afford to rest key players and he cannot put out anything but his strongest XI against at home to United when a trophy presentation is at stake.

So when can Pep rest his players?

Manchester City’s game against Swansea on April 22 will be called off if Swansea beat Spurs in the FA Cup this weekend. Spurs are strong favourites to win that so the fixture against Swansea should go ahead.

City will likely play a weaker XI against Swansea and West Ham to preserve legs for the Spurs game on April 15 and the first leg of the semi-finals.

It’s also key to note that although Swansea, Huddersfield and Southampton look easy on paper, all three will likely be battling for survival in the final three games.

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So will he rest them?

Two of Manchester City’s four defeats have come in the Champions League in games which would not affect their progress in the competition.

City’s lineups for these games included second-string players including Yaya Toure and Phil Foden. Crucially, David Silva, Kevin de Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero were all absent from the starting lineups.

Pep has seen how complacency slipped into his Bayern side in the past as they have lacked match sharpness and he will aim to play his strongest XI as often as he can.

This bodes well for those looking to target Manchester City players in their fantasy football teams between the semi-finals and the final.

But be warned, the Swansea and West Ham games look like the ideal games for Pep to rest players.


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