Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola sat in front of reporters at the Allianz Arena, a day before the second leg of his team’s Champions League semifinal against Barcelona, doing his best to believe. “I’m the coach, I’m a realist, and I’ll never say we don’t have a chance. We have to play with our hearts and our heads,” he said to the amorphous mound of reporters. They were the sounds of a man with a robust skill set relying heavily on hope. Overcoming a 3-0 deficit against, as he called them, “one of the best teams in Europe in the last 15 years,” isn’t a task that one approaches with enthusiasm.
A little over 24 hours later, Bayern Munich was effectively dead. Barcelona eradicated all plausible hope after Neymar secured a brace roughly 30 minutes into the contest.
Let’s take a look at a man losing hope and then having to wait for the end.
This is depressing, so consider yourself warned. Here’s Pep Guardiola’s evening.
There’s belief at the beginning. Even more so when you take an early one-goal lead. Ideal starts are typically how miracles begin in soccer. Bayern’s Mehdi Benatia provided that to Guardiola when his header in the ninth minute gave Bayern a 1-0 lead. There was a buzz in the air. Hope was alive. Well, it at least had a pulse.
But that buzz — and the coinciding hope — starts to wither when your opponents’ first goal registers on the scoreboard. Hope starts to leak. That’s when you look down the touchline and see a man standing where you used to stand, in front of the team you used to coach, wearing the clothes you used to wear, gesturing, just like you used to gesture.
And then it hurts a little more when that man’s team scores a second goal, puncturing your bladder of hope. Suddenly it seems as if everyone’s against you. Even the linesman.
The resin of hope that once felt almost real becomes a distant memory.
This isn’t the type of thing one just walks off. But Guardiola’s a man who doesn’t accept people saying he can’t do something, so he tried to walk it off anyway.
Regroup, refocus, and return. Maybe you see something you missed the first time.
But when he returned, nothing had changed. The smell of burnt hope and familiarity hung like a cloud over the sideline.
And that motherfucker Luis was still over there, waving his arms like a Pep impersonator, acting like he was doing something.
There was a late rally. It was 2-2, and then 3-2. There was a knock at the door. It was hope, giggling from behind the dense barrier. But this time he didn’t answer. Guardiola knew better. He tried to convey hope to his players. He gave it a shot. But everyone knew that it was a lie. Especially Pep.
Desperation often follows the loss of hope. When someone reaches that stage, regretful deeds happen. Like an attempted karate chop toward a player who joined Barcelona right after Guardiola’s departure for Bavaria.
But at some point, when you’re running on hope fumes, you just have to concede and hope to fight another day, in a competition that doesn’t include Barcelona.
But the worst part is the patronizing hug at the end. The hug where that motherfucker Luis tries to squeeze the remaining hope out of Guardiola. Let the man suffer in peace, Luis.
Pep was a good man. Thankfully, we’ll always have YouTube videos with terrible EDM to keep his past feats alive. That’s the beauty of the internet: when there’s no hope left inside, there’s always a reservoir of hope stored online. And people keep coming back over and over and over again to get more. Because it’s hope. And it’s addicting.
Hope. It’s a hell of a drug.