Did Pep really “overthink” the UCL Final ? - By Manan Grover
The 2020/21 Uefa Champions League final saw two English giants , Chelsea and Manchester City take on each other for the elusive title . Chelsea looking to win their second title , while Manchester City were setting sights to win their first ever Uefa Champions league . Manchester City were led by one of the most decorated manager Josep (Pep) Guardiola , whom people have perceived as a manager who is undoubtedly the best ... but also “overthinks” or over-analyses big European games . Some of the examples are the infamous defeats by the hands of Lyon , Tottenham , Liverpool & AS Monaco . This time too , Chelsea came out on top after winning against City and the credit for the loss went straight to Pep claiming he “overhthinked” once again . But did he do so ? Manchester City lined up with a simple 4-3-3 formation on paper , but the intriguing part being the team lacked a proper defensive midfielder and the inclusion of Raheem Sterling in the line up , a player who didn’t have a good season. A lack of striker was not a big deal as they have played and enjoyed success without playing a proper number #9 .Also, Ilkay Gundogan , who played as a box to box midfielder for a majority of the season was deployed in a holding role.
While attacking , Pep’s side looked to take a shape of a 3-2-5 with Kyle Walker ,Ruben Diaz and John Stones being Centre Backs , Zinchenko and Gundogan playing as two holding midfielders, Phil Foden & Bernardo Silva being two attacking midfielders on left and right hand side respectively, Raheem Sterling & Riyadh Mahrez being the two wingers and Kevin De Bruyne as a false 9. City were aggressive right from the kick and they pressed chelsea’s players to force them to play long balls . While attacking they tended to create a 5 player diamond in the middle to overload the chelsea midfield . This forces Chelsea’s centre backs to balance the overload and they often left their lines to do so . Due to a lack of number 9 and wingers who tended to stay wide .. city were unable to make full use of the the space created .Also , not to forget that city don’t have good ball playing defenders ..which led the unusual run by the attackers into space go in vein . Although they’re were few moments in which this plan worked , but that was only due to good king balls by either Ederson or the midfield to pick sterling in space , who couldn’t capitalise the opportunities due to great defending by Chelsea defence. Talking about the goal that Man City conceded , it was due to lack of awareness of Gundogan , who cannot be blamed due to him playing out of position . Pep tried to make things better by bringing on a proper defensive midfielder in the form of Fernandinho which definitely provided more stability at the back , but didn’t help in creating the attack. All in all , Pep’s tactics were great on the paper and on field too , but the problem this time was not selecting the right players and making late substitutions which couldn’t make the game go in City’s favour. Taking away no credit from Chelsea who showed one of the best defensive performances of the season.
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