Guardiola defends his horrendous mistake in Champions League defeat to Chelsea as Tuchel expresses shock

May 30th, 2021 by Olasunkanmi Ibikunle

Pep Guardiola has explained his decision not to start with a holding midfielder as Manchester City lost the Champions League final to Chelsea.

And he said he did not know if he has any regrets about his selection and tactics.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel admitted he had been surprised that Fernandinho was not in the line-up, but said that he and his staff had predicted everything else City had planned.

City lost 1-0 after a disappointing performance in Porto, in which the Londoners’ defensive midfielder N’Golo Kante taking man of the match honours.

Guardiola decided to leave both holding players – Fernandinho and Rodri – on the subs bench until he brought on the Brazilian in the second half.

He has played one or the other in almost every other game this season, but changed it for the final – a tinker that he seemed to have ironed out of his make-up.

Chelsea took full advantage, exposing the lack of cover, while City’s much-vaunted defence had its poorest game for some time.

It was an attacking decision from Guardiola – it allowed him to squeeze Raheem Sterling into a strong front five, and he played Ilkay Gudogan as the holding man.

That has worked in the past, usually against teams that play deep, when the Germany international’s passing quality makes a difference.

Guardiola said: “I decided the decision, to have quality players. Gundogan played many years in this position.

“To have speed, to find the small players, the quality, the brilliant players, inside, in the middle and between the lines. This was the decision.”

Asked if he regretted anything about his selection and tactics, Guardiola chose to praise Chelsea, who were excellent on the night.

“I don’t know – the decisions I made, the players did everything to try to win the game.”

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel was surprised that Fernandinho did not start, saying: “I expected Fernandinho in the line-up. He chose a very offensive, technical line-up, very hard to steal the ball and recover the ball. Everything else we pretty much expected.

“I think the game was exceptional, the first time we are here.”

Photo Credit: ChampionsLeague/Twitter

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