Pep Guardiola is regarded as one of the best coaches in world football right now. His in-game tactics are second to none. He came to England and made Manchester City one of the elites winning two of the last three Premier League titles.
But Guardiola last tasted success in Europe back in 2010-11 with Barcelona. He has failed to get beyond the semi-finals since then.
It seemed this season was Guardiola’s best chance to win the Champions League since City was out of the contention for Premier League too soon and was focusing on the Champions League.
Guardiola has a history of tinkering with his team’s approach to accommodate the opposition, especially in the Champions League. He did it again last night by playing Eric Garcia instead of Phil Foden. He played in a 3-1-4-2 formation instead of his regular 4-3-3 to match up with Lyon.
Guardiola went for a three-man defence of Laporte, Garcia and Fernandinho with Rodri sitting in front of them. Gundogan and De Bruyne were handed the responsibility of controlling the midfield while Walker and Cancelo played as wing-backs. Sterling and Jesus played upfront.
This seems to be a mistake by Guardiola as City lost on creativity upfront. They missed Foden while Garcia doesn’t seem to be mature enough to play in such a crucial match. He did something very amateur when he decided to go forward instead of holding his position in the build-up of Lyon’s second goal. If Garcia held his position Lyon couldn’t have gotten into a goalscoring position.
A big Champions League knockout match is incomplete without Guardiola overthinking it making some drastic changes to his starting 11. Playing Eric Garcia instead of Phil Foden clearly backfired.
Guardiola said: “In this competition, tactics is not the most important thing. We worked three days on this. We discussed it and reviewed it. The way we played was really good. It was not a problem. I know how it works. I know why we did it.”
“We will recover and restart and try to do it again. I am not able, with these guys, to break this line at the quarter-final.”
“I think after what these guys have done, we deserve to go through but we are not able. Life is how you stand up again and next season we are going to try again.”
Maybe Guardiola will stick to City’s basics one day in a Champions League knockout tie and they might win the European competition, who knows!
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