How Pep Guardiola ‘the overthinker’ lost the Champions League final spot
Manchester City have been knocked out of the UEFA Champions League semi-final in spectacular fashion by Real Madrid and Pep Guardiola is to blame.
The result at the Santiago Bernabeu sends Real Madrid to the final in Paris 6-5 on aggregate and signifies yet another crushing disappointment on the big stage for Manchester City.
Manchester City led both the game and the tie going into additional time and looked set to surely advance to a second consecutive Champions League game until Pep Guardiola made some errors that ultimately proved costly in hindsight.
Here are the major reasons Manchester City blew the lead and how Pep Guardiola was culpable this time without ‘overthinking’.
When Riyad Mahrez scored that wonderful goal, the celebrations from Pep Guardiola and the rest of the City bench showed that they thought the job was done.
Guardiola’s substitution five minutes after the goal was indicative of that as he brought on Jack Grealish to replace Gabriel Jesus.
Although Grealish nearly vindicated him with a goal but his attempt was cleared off the line by Ferland Mendy, it probably was still the wrong choice at that point in the game.
Why mess with the winning formula? Most likely because he thought he had the game in the bag and wanted to use his substitutes regardless of how they impacted the game.
Pep Guardiola has not won the UEFA Champions League since 2011 and has only played one final in those 12 seasons which may have affected Guardiola’s confidence in this competition.
Perhaps after the careless Grealish substitution, Pep realises as the clock winds down that he has not had much success in this competition and then panicked.
He took off Riyad Mahrez the goalscorer and brought on 37-year old Fernandinho in his stead in an effort to defend and remain solid for the closing five minutes of regulation time.
The substitution backfired because in doing so, Pep gave away City’s biggest strength which is sustaining possession. He instead let Real Madrid have the ball in hopes that his team could hold out for a win by sitting back as they did in the last round against Atletico Madrid.
The problem with willingly letting Real Madrid have the ball and do as they please is that they actually have the quality to break down defensive blocks as Guardiola learnt in an unsavoury fashion.
Now in his sixth season as Manchester City head coach, last season’s crushing final defeat to Chelsea is the closest Pep Guardiola has gotten to lifting the “big ears” trophy.
Clubs like Monaco, Tottenham and Lyon have successfully knocked him out in his time in Manchester and tonight’s result proves that this is a noticeable pattern and not just sheer lack of luck.