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Pep Guardiola preaches control, Bayern Munich lost it at the end against Manchester City

In their Champions League loss to Manchester City, Bayern Munich lost the one thing Pep Guardiola preaches more than anything else.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Heading into every match, Pep Guardiola devises a game plan on how to beat the opponent. That game plan could involve any number of players set up in varying formations depending on the opponent, but it always evolves out of one simple notion. Pep wants Bayern Munich to control the match from start to finish.

It sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is. Guardiola swaps players in and out of varying formations designed to beat a particular opponent the team is facing on that day. It doesn't matter to the Spaniard which players are on the field. All that matters is that they execute his game plan. Control.

When Bayern took the field against Manchester City, it was a strong team, but it wasn't Bayern's best. For different reasons, Bayern started the match without Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thiago AlcantaraJavi Martinez, Philipp LahmMario GötzeThomas Müller, and David Alaba. On this day, with Bayern having already secured first place in the group, Guardiola chose to send Sebastian Rode and Pierre Højbjerg out to face the English Champions.

Mehdi Benatia was handed his walking papers after only twenty minutes, and Bayern were reduced to ten men. Guardiola brought on Dante for Rode to help at the back, and even with one fewer central midfielder, the plan remained the same. Control.

Down a goal after Sergio Agüero converted the penalty, Bayern didn't waver. They focused on what they could control: the ball. And, they did. Bayern would finished the match with 55% possession according to nearly all statistics. Pep was pleased.

"I'm very, very proud of my team. We played for a very long time with ten men against the English champions and we showed huge, huge character. We dominated possession, we didn't allow them many chances and we controlled the game. But that's the Champions League for you. What's happened today is good. Maybe it's a good lesson for us, because if something like that happens in the Round of 16 or the quarter-finals, you're out."

"We controlled the game." This is Pep's mantra. This is what he's been preaching for the last year and a half. Down a man for over an hour, Bayern controlled the champions of England at their house. Despite only being down one goal, Man City were not even in the match.

However, being down a man eventually catches up to you. Manuel Pellegrini made some changes, and Man City were fighting for their Champions League lives. With five minutes remaining, two of Bayern's most steadfast players this season, Xabi Alonso and Jerome Boateng, slipped. They lost focus. They lost... control.

After controlling a match for eighty five minutes while being down a man on the road, two uncharacteristic mistakes cost Bayern a victory. Pep knows this. The players know this. In order for this club to get back where they want to be, they must stay in control.

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