[dropcap]B[/dropcap]ayern Munich have their biggest game of the season tonight as the Bavarian powerhouses face a brave Porto side in the Champions League quarter-finals.
The Bundesliga outfit were surprisingly poor in their first leg in Portugal last week, with uncharacteristic defensive lapses resulting in a 3-1 defeat at the Estádio do Dragão.
Although a 2-0 victory at the Allianz Arena tonight will be enough to see Die Roten through to the last four of Europe’s elite competition, Bayern have given themselves a significant challenge to overcome.
For Guardiola, accepting the job in Munich following his decision to leave Barcelona was an exciting decision – but one that left him with little room for error.
Given that his predecessor Jupp Heynckes won the treble the year before the Spaniard arrived, the bar has been set at an almost unreachable level.
Bayern have cantered to the verge of the Bundesliga title this season, while his side are through to the semi-finals of the DFB Pokal.
The proud Catalan coach recorded this domestic double in his first campaign in Germany, with the Allianz Arena outfit odds-on to repeat the feat this term.
However, given Bayern’s intimidating financial position and star-studded squad, unbelievably winning the double is not deemed as enough to satisfy the insatiable collective demand for success.
Guardiola stated as much at his pre-match press conference and he will have entered into this season knowing that becoming European champions was the ultimate goal of 2014-15.
Last season Bayern’s European dreams turned into a nightmare at the semi-final stage, with capitulation at the hands of eventual winners Real Madrid.
A 4-0 home loss, where the coach’s tactics were highlighted as a key reason for defeat, sullied the Spaniard’s inaugural campaign in German football.
Despite their fearless display in the first leg last week, Porto cannot be held in the same regard as last season’s conquerors and elimination at the hands of Julen Lopetegui’s men would be regarded as massively disappointing.
Guardiola has another season on his current deal at the Allianz Arena and made it clear in yesterday’s press conference that he would be in Bavaria to fulfil it in 2015-16.
However, whether the Spaniard departs Bavaria next summer or in 15 years’ time, his reputation as one of the game’s best coaches will be pinned on European glory.
Bayern’s current domestic dominance is unrelenting and unquestionable – but there is an argument to state that it already was before Guardiola arrived at the club.
For Guardiola to further Bayern’s cause and his own reputation, having the German club consistently challenging for the Champions League crown is a pre-requisite.
Despite his imperious domestic success during four years in the Camp Nou hotseat, his crowning glories were two Champions League triumphs in 2009 and 2011.
Regardless of his success in Germany so far, for the period to be deemed anywhere near as significant as his time at Barcelona, European glory is needed.
Bayern are by no means out of contention against Porto and cannot be discounted due to the sheer quality at their disposal.
However, failure to overhaul the first leg disappointment would be a sizeable blot in Guardiola’s almost unblemished copybook.
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