Has Pep Guardiola’s system reached its limits?

The disappointment was evident on Pep Guardiola’s face on Wednesday night. ISABEL INFANTES / REUTERS

Since 2011, the Mancunian coach, whose team is one of the favorites in the competition, will not lift the cup with big ears this season.

When we were better in the match, we qualified for the final. We took control of the game and they started playing high and scoring. I experienced knowing that we were not in the final, but we were close. They have the ability to write history, as I have already said.This Wednesday night, the disappointment was huge on Pep Guardiola’s side. While Manchester City dominated – even in the game – the first leg of the semi-finals of the Champions League against Real Madrid (4-3) and despite a one-goal advantage at the end of regulation time in the second leg , the Citizens were eliminated from the competition, beaten by a steely-minded Real Madrid, who equalized within two minutes before grabbing their ticket for the C1 final in extra time . A new disappointment for the Spanish coach who has not raised a big ear since 2011 when he led the “bigFC Barcelona of Xavi Hernandez, Andrés Iniesta and Lionel Messi.

SEE ALSO – The joy of Real Madrid after qualifying for the finals of the Champions League

The massive club runs…

Over the past eleven years, Pep Guardiola’s results in the Champions League have not been bad in themselves. However, it remains clear that these are not enough because of his status on the one hand – he is considered one of the greatest technicians of the 21st century.e century – and on the other hand the mastodons he led. Because after leaving FC Barcelona in the summer of 2012, with a full list, the Spaniard took the reins of FC Bayern Munich from July 2013; FC Bayern Munich, which had one of the best seasons in its history with a historic league-national cup-Champions League treble. Three years later, the former midfielder settled in England, in Manchester more precisely, to manage the Citizens; The people were then in full development and had almost unlimited resources to improve their workforce.

…but the results were less than expected in C1

However, whether in the Bavarian club or the British team, Pep Guardiola did not repeat in the Champions League the performances he had when he officiated in Catalonia. It was as if he was confronted, outside of his own land, with a magical glass ceiling that he could not break, year after year. With FC Bayern Munich, his career in the best European cups remains more than honorable since he reached the last four in each of his seasons (2013-2014, 2014-2015 and 2015-2016). But there is no title and no finality despite the brilliant and experienced workers. Since he led Manchester City, the Citizens have risen in the ranks, establishing themselves for many years among the great favorites of the competition: round of 16 in 2016-2017, quarter-finals in 2017- 2018, in 2018-2019 and in 2019 -2020, then finally in 2020-2021. Many also thought that last season’s edition was the right one for the Spanish technician, that he would find the joy of lifting the cup with the big ears. Unfortunately for him, his team came up against the tenacity and efficiency of Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea.

Offensive principles of play…

More disappointingly for Pep Guardiola is that both in Germany and in England, his teams have dominated their domestic competitions. In three seasons across the Rhine, the former Johan Cruyff player won the Bundesliga each time, in addition to lifting the DFB-Pokal (German Cup) twice. Across the Channel, the Citizens have greatly enriched their record since 2016 with three Premier Leagues – and perhaps a fourth this season – an FA Cup and four League Cups. To all his trophies, of course, we must add the polished game offered by his formations. Because the native of Santpedor brought up to the date of “total soccer» and deeply influenced the world of football by his desire to master the game, to attack in numbers, but also by his tactical courage, he who does not hesitate to invent (or reinvent) concepts like «fake number nine“- understand playing without a professional striker – or “the inner part– meaning to put his right or left back in the middle in the build-up of the play when most teams use these players to split.

…to adapt to win?

This game is what makes it its strength, its originality… but it’s also the source of its limitations on the biggest stage in Europe since 2011. In fact, we saw it even this Wednesday, the teams didn’t know its how to defend correctly when they are deprived, even temporarily, of the ball and they no longer have the physical or tactical resources to exercise intense and high pressure when the ball is lost. As if they are so used to having a puff that they can no longer sublimate defensively in important moments. This is what Arsène Wenger said Bein Sports this wednesday night:Look at the 1-1, when Grealish was against Carvajal he was easily outplayed, too easily. He must really fight to stop this center! You don’t want the ball in the box, anything can happen when everyone is moving forward. Here City failed to secure the game, with their way of defending on the flanksexplained the former Arsenal manager. Because they were given a chance. Even if you look at Benzema’s handover (in the equalizing goal, editor’s note), they didn’t really attack the ball. They made big mistakes.At the end of the contract next year, Pep Guardiola should have one last chance to bring back a first Champions League to Manchester City. Considered dogmatic at a strategic level, will he be willing to adapt his principles to regain Europe’s best trophy?

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