Guardiola gets his lines wrong
From the off, Pep Guardiola's starting formation for his Manchester City side was odd, with no holding player in the centre of the park and without a recognised striker. His team featured a raft of creative players looking to dominate control of the game. It reminded me of a Barça game under Guardiola against Santos where Cesc Fabregas played as a false nine, complimented by a number of ball players. At least that side featured Busquets, who could fill in with defensive duties. On that particular day, his Barcelona side faced a free-flowing Santos team featuring a certain Neymar Jr. and not a dogged Chelsea side, who dig their heels in deeply defensively and are able to spring quickly and effectively on the counter.
Failed plans for Guardiola
His formation failed to work as Chelsea's counter-attacks pierced through City like a knife through butter. Despite being excellent in moving City defenders out of position, Chelsea striker Timo Werner was wasteful in front of goal and this was instrumental in the game just being decided by a solitary goal at the interval. When Guardiola amended his line-up with the introduction of Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho and Agüero, it was too late. The final, his first since his spell with Barça was over. His plan was either a poor one or his players failed to execute their orders well. Whatever the flaw in the system, his game plan fell perfectly into the hand of Tuchel, one of Guardiola's admirers who was astute in his game management of the Porto final.
Style of play
This Champions League final and indeed Villarreal's Europa League win or the LaLiga title secured by Atleti have showcased a type of game based on a solid rear-guard, with high intensity and an ability to create lightning quick counters. It's also somewhat ironic that the biggest global stars in the game...Messi, Mbappé, Neymar, Haaland and Cristiano, have all failed to win their respective domestic league title. There is also a shift in seeing more and more focus fall on the man on the bench and that's not a direction that appeals to me. All it remains for me to do is offer my congratulations to Tuchel, a coach who was sacked not so long ago by a PSG side boasting the talents of Neymar and Mbappé and who was on the losing side in the 2020 final.
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