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Champions League final: Did Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola tinker too much against Chelsea?

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Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea: City showed 'courage' in Champions League final – Guardiola

Pep Guardiola was in a pragmatic mood following Manchester City's Champions League final defeat to Chelsea, but was it one tinker too many by the City boss?

Having seen his side sweep aside many challengers both in Europe and on their way to the Premier League title, Guardiola sprung a surprise with his team selection in Porto.

He left out captain Fernandinho and fellow holding midfielder Rodri from his starting line-up and instead chose to play the more attack-minded Bernardo Silva alongside Kevin de Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan.

The outcome was that City never really managed to get a grip on midfield throughout the game, their defence was exposed while their attack was also hampered as they finished the game on the wrong end of 1-0 defeat having managed just a single shot on target in 97 minutes.

Guardiola has been known to adjust his team selection to try and outfox his opponents.

Asked why he made the changes he did for this game, he replied: "I did the best in the selection.

"Against Lyon [in 2020] like it was against PSG, Dortmund, I tried the selection the best to win the game. The players know it, I think Ilkay Gundogan played good, we were exceptional."

But was it the wrong decision? Or did Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel simply have the measure of him?

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"I think [tinkering too much] will be levelled at him because he changed the way he had played all season," former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand said on BT Sport.

"He has always had Rodri or Fernandinho in there but he changed it. We know tactically he tinkers, he might have seen a weakness in there but Thomas Tuchel nullified any threat.

"We saw Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling played really wide, they've not really done that this season and maybe that is something City did wrong."

'This might make him determined to get Harry Kane'

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Pep Guardiola walks past the Champions League trophyPep Guardiola had led Manchester City to the Champions League final for the first time in their history

Former Chelsea striker Chris Sutton felt City players should also shoulder some of the blame for failing to put in a performance.

"Where do Manchester City go from here? This was the one Pep Guardiola wanted to win, they did not turn up on the night," he said on BBC Radio 5 live.

"A team as talented as City, they did not work Edouard Mendy enough tonight and that will be of real frustration for them."

However, Sutton had said prior to kick-off that not starting Fernandinho would prove to be a mistake.

"You need your leaders and Fernandinho is that," he said.

"Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira were enforcers and he can drag their team up, you want him standing next to you in the trenches."

For ex-Everton and West Ham midfielder Don Hutchison, the defeat highlighted just how much Manchester City need an out-and-out striker for next season.

"Pep will take a lot of criticism and I am a big fan," he said on BBC Radio 5 live. "I don't consider this a failure – yes, it is the big one but I hope he doesn't come under too much criticism.

"This might sharpen Pep's mind and he might say if I am going to win the Champions League, I need 30 goals a season, I need Harry Kane."

'Magician' Tuchel trumps Pep again

To put it down to Guardiola just getting it wrong would also downplay the fact that Tuchel has not just got the better of the City boss once this season, or even twice, but three times.

Tuchel took charge of Chelsea in January but in that time he has overseen victories against Guardiola's side in the FA Cup, Premier League and now the Champions League.

"To do what he has done coming halfway through the season is nothing short of a magician," Ferdinand added.

"He has come into this country and played Pep Guardiola's side three times this season and won all three."

'A genius but he got it wrong' – what you said

James in London: More often than not, football is an unexpected game, perhaps Pep thought it was too much about him this evening. This is why we all love it so much, and it's only going to get better with the Euros in June!

Irfan: As a Bayern fan, I felt Guardiola was great for tactical excellence and discipline across the season. But something was missing in the top, top moments in Europe. It feels the same today.

Khan Karn: Pep is a genius but he got it wrong tonight, had to start with Aguero. Toothless up front. Those half-chances would have been converted by Aguero. Commiserations.

Tom Hosier: People need to start respecting Tuchel a lot more. Tactically spot on against Man City three times now! The impact he has had since coming in has been insane!

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Comment posted by SteveFEditor, today at 00:35SteveFEditor

00:35Most City fans will have been able to name the side that could have won the game… it would have included Fernandinho, but not Sterling. That being said, congratulations to Chelsea… they deserved it on the night…1668K

Reply posted by killingjoke, today at 00:49killingjoke

00:49to SteveFEditor"Most City fans will have been able to name the side that could have won the game… it would have included Fernandinho, but not Sterling. That being said, congratulations to Chelsea… they deserved it on the night…"killingjoke replied: Spot on and thats what makes this loss so much harder to accept, faced with that team selection every City fan knew what was coming, its simple, pick Sterling, lose, Pep handed this cup on a plate to Chelsea with an absolute shambles, De Bruyne, Foden nulified by his tactics and Mahrez up for sale no wonder he was quiet, a masterclass in how to make a mess of a cup final1068More replies (16)downK

Comment posted by kickabout, today at 01:14kickabout

01:14He’s a fraud. Had the best squad in the world ar Barcelona then Messi came through to top it off. Took Bayern backwards on the European stage and then spent years and billions of pounds at Manchester City trying to win the champions league and at the final hurdle completely messed with team selection and tactics.17541D

Reply posted by DR1, today at 01:17DR1

01:17to kickabout"He’s a fraud. Had the best squad in the world ar Barcelona then Messi came through to top it off. Took Bayern backwards on the European stage and then spent years and billions of pounds at Manchester City trying to win the champions league and at the final hurdle completely messed with team selection and tactics."DR1 replied: Couldn’t agree more!6615More replies (27)downL

Comment posted by LuThe, today at 00:55LuThe

00:55Of course Pep got it wrong. As he’s done previously in CL at crucial junctures. Out-thinking himself when the solution was simply to do what had got them before to quarter/semis, and this time the final.

Why drop Fern/Rodri? Result: no cohesion from back to front, no cover for CB’s, no competition for Kante & co in the middle.

Spursy? No ‘Pepsy’ = to ruin what’s working for no fathomable reason.1343L

Reply posted by Lets Agree To Disagree, today at 01:10Lets Agree To Disagree

01:10to LuThe"Of course Pep got it wrong. As he’s done previously in CL at crucial junctures. Out-thinking himself when the solution was simply to do what had got them before to quarter/semis, and this time the final.Why drop Fern/Rodri? Result: no cohesion from back to front, no cover for CB’s, no competition for Kante & co in the middle.Spursy? No ‘Pepsy’ = to ruin what’s working for no fathomable reason."Lets Agree To Disagree replied: Guardiola needs to trust what has worked and bought him to this point and apply the principle of ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.860More replies (6)downM

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Comment posted by mustardcustard, today at 00:52mustardcustard

00:52It just goes to show that the whole Pep mania is a myth, he has always has the riches to buy the best at Barca, Bayern and at City. This is a man who paid £41m for Nathan Ake, just think about that for a second.

The last 20 minutes of the final were truly shocking. We could have been watch ing a Sam Allardyce team simply hoofing it long, with Kyle Walker long throw ins into the bargain.12816Y

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Reply posted by Youwhat, today at 02:11Youwhat

02:11to mustardcustard"It just goes to show that the whole Pep mania is a myth, he has always has the riches to buy the best at Barca, Bayern and at City. This is a man who paid £41m for Nathan Ake, just think about that for a second.The last 20 minutes of the final were truly shocking. We could have been watching a Sam Allardyce team simply hoofing it long, with Kyle Walker long throw ins into the bargain."Youwhat replied: What the frigg was he and city playing at 😳273More replies (1)downM

Comment posted by Maso73, today at 01:04Maso73

01:04I am not a fan of either club but if I were to pick the best manager and best managed team in the EPL, it is Leeds. When did Pep manage a team with low budget squad and win with development and strategy?11815M

Reply posted by More on this story, today at 03:21More on this story

03:21to Maso73"I am not a fan of either club but if I were to pick the best manager and best managed team in the EPL, it is Leeds. When did Pep manage a team with low budget squad and win with development and strategy?"More on this story replied: A good shout for Leeds, perhaps West Ham too at the moment?479More replies (12)downD

Comment posted by Dallas Cowboys Liverpool FC, today at 01:05Dallas Cowboys Liverpool FC

01:05Never understood why Guardiola always gets away from what has worked for him up to that point and tries new formations/tactics in the most important games? Every time he does this it backfires on him.910L

Reply posted by LondonCri, today at 01:27LondonCri

01:27to Dallas Cowboys Liverpool FC"Never understood why Guardiola always gets away from what has worked for him up to that point and tries new formations/tactics in the most important games? Every time he does this it backfires on him."LondonCri replied: I feel he tends to act with that air of grandeur that follows him in mind .3110More replies (3)downA

Comment posted by ani4ani, today at 00:56ani4ani

00:56I’m no Chelsea fan, but they were a better team and City were poor; they won the league at a canter but only because the rest, for the majority of the season were well below par.

KDB and Stirling were very poor tonight.777C

Reply posted by Celts, today at 01:44Celts

01:44to ani4ani"I’m no Chelsea fan, but they were a better team and City were poor; they won the league at a canter but only because the rest, for the majority of the season were well below par.KDB and Stirling were very poor tonight."Celts replied: Pep absolutely bottled it with his team selection.394More replies (3)downK

Comment posted by killingjoke, today at 01:18killingjoke

01:18What was Guardiola thinking, play the same as all season tried and tested that blew the prem away, or tinker around, playing your best players out of position nulifying them and the leave out the current form player Fernadinho out and play Sterling who currently has zero form, every recent match he has featured in City lose, baffling, Peps reputation took a knock tonight with this shambles713F

Reply posted by frazer, today at 07:20frazer

07:20to killingjoke"What was Guardiola thinking, play the same as all season tried and tested that blew the prem away, or tinker around, playing your best players out of position nulifying them and the leave out the current form player Fernadinho out and play Sterling who currently has zero form, every recent match he has featured in City lose, baffling, Peps reputation took a knock tonight with this shambles"frazer replied: Too much money – like the lottery winner that doesn’t quite know what to spend the next million on281More replies (2)downU

Comment posted by Untold Reality, today at 02:17Untold Reality

02:17Pep is his own worst enemy. No aguero, fernandinho, rodri, Jesus but he started Silva, sterling, when they’ve hardly played latter part of season? As a villa fan I don’t mind though, as it means there’s still only 5 English clubs that are in an elite club of having won the European cup 😎621F

Reply posted by Footy_fan, today at 07:09Footy_fan

07:09to Untold Reality"Pep is his own worst enemy. No aguero, fernandinho, rodri, Jesus but he started Silva, sterling, when they’ve hardly played latter part of season? As a villa fan I don’t mind though, as it means there’s still only 5 English clubs that are in an elite club of having won the European cup 😎"Footy_fan replied: Don’t worry – he will come good next year539More replies (6)downM

Comment posted by Mike, today at 01:22Mike

01:22Tough situation for Pep, really. It’s impossible to name the right team when the opponent has N’Golo Kante562H

Reply posted by Honest discussion, today at 02:03Honest discussion

02:03to Mike"Tough situation for Pep, really. It’s impossible to name the right team when the opponent has N’Golo Kante"Honest discussion replied: He’s unbelievable. Just as when you see Messi beat a player, and wonder how did he do that? So it is with Kante’s tackles. It’s surely going to be a free kick, but no, somehow he made the tackle from a seemingly impossible angle. As a CDM, he is the GOAT.491More replies (9)downA

Comment posted by Altone, today at 00:50Altone

00:50how gardiola could pick Sterling after his diaboliclal bumbling this season beggars belief595D

Reply posted by DonsCan, today at 02:35DonsCan

02:35to Altone"how gardiola could pick Sterling after his diaboliclal bumbling this season beggars belief"DonsCan replied: Like Ole playing Pogba and Rashford on Wednesday. Idiotic.326More replies (4)downK

Comment posted by kennycanuck, today at 02:21kennycanuck

02:21This one will stick in Pep’s throat for
a long long time. TT had Pep read like a book.
His eyes must have lit up when he saw Man.C’s lineup.490R

Comment posted by Rickiesredarmy, today at 00:50Rickiesredarmy

00:50You think he would have learned his lesson from previous tinkering. Maybe not – on their biggest ever night. Weird. Kudos to Tuchel though- completely owned Pep – again.450S

Comment posted by sirjc, today at 01:24sirjc

01:24Pep selection was horrific … no Rodri or Fernandino in starting 11. Aguero 15 mins …. Really. Same crap against Lyon last year. Tuchel has his #.442H

Reply posted by HABlet, today at 01:45HABlet

01:45to sirjc"Pep selection was horrific … no Rodri or Fernandino in starting 11. Aguero 15 mins …. Really. Same crap against Lyon last year. Tuchel has his #."HABlet replied: How can Tuchel have Pep’s number when the latter did something totally unexpected ? Illogical, captain.1123More replies (5)downF

Comment posted by footnote, today at 01:10footnote

01:10James had Sterling in his pocket , Kante ran the midfield , De Bruyne Foden Gundogan created nothing despite all the hype .443T

Reply posted by The Spin Doctor, today at 01:13The Spin Doctor

01:13to footnote"James had Sterling in his pocket , Kante ran the midfield , De Bruyne Foden Gundogan created nothing despite all the hype ."The Spin Doctor replied: And a good thing too. James will not get very far with Dollars, Euros or Rupees in his pocket. :)306More replies (7)downL

Comment posted by Localist, today at 01:00Localist

01:00Seems odd doing the individual prizes before the end of the season. Even with the FA Cup final loss, surely Tuchel should be manager of the year given what he’s achieved in his tenure?4610R

Reply posted by Rubbertires, today at 08:52Rubbertires

08:52to Localist"Seems odd doing the individual prizes before the end of the season. Even with the FA Cup final loss, surely Tuchel should be manager of the year given what he’s achieved in his tenure?"Rubbertires replied: I’d go with that, maybe the fans should vote on such matters.41More replies (3)down1

Comment posted by 1 on 1, today at 01:131 on 1

01:13He got away with playing without a striker for most of the season. Playing the champions league final without a defensive midfielder is an error he will never make again.361K

Reply posted by killingjoke, today at 01:21killingjoke

01:21to 1 on 1"He got away with playing without a striker for most of the season. Playing the champions league final without a defensive midfielder is an error he will never make again."killingjoke replied: Not so sure, made a similar mess of of a relatively easy tie with Lyon370More replies (1)downM

Comment posted by Matthews , today at 01:53Matthews

01:53Got tired of reading articles about this being Manchester City’s year, and how they deserve the CL lol, Kante had something to say about that.333M

Reply posted by More on this story, today at 03:26More on this story

03:26to Matthews "Got tired of reading articles about this being Manchester City’s year, and how they deserve the CL lol, Kante had something to say about that."More on this story replied: When Lawro predicted they would win I knew they would be in trouble!371More replies (1)downM

Comment posted by Milky Bar Senior Citizen, today at 00:58Milky Bar Senior Citizen

00:58Would love to have seen an interview with Frank Lampard at the final whistle.334Removed commentMore replies (5)downM

Comment posted by mr Smith , today at 01:35mr Smith

01:35He needs another £1billion guys, don’t blame him, he’s a fraud, spent spent spent 5 years 1£billion spent , he brought 1(one) player from the academy!296J

Reply posted by Joe King, today at 01:49Joe King

01:49to mr Smith "He needs another £1billion guys, don’t blame him, he’s a fraud, spent spent spent 5 years 1£billion spent , he brought 1(one) player from the academy!"Joe King replied: You mean something like three of the highest transfers in the history of Premier League, all made by “Manchester” United (past and present) ?1814More replies (2)downMore commentsBack to topunknown
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