Pep’s gamble backfires

Porto, May 30

It was billed as the night when Pep Guardiola would lead Manchester City to their first Champions League title but it ended with questions again being asked about the Spaniard’s decision-making in the biggest games in Europe.

Last season the Spaniard departed from his settled approach for the quarter-final, single leg game in Lisbon against unfancied Olympique Lyonnais, switching to an unfamiliar three-man defence as City fell to a shock 3-1 defeat.

On Saturday, Guardiola shuffled his cards in an attempt to foil the tactics of Chelsea’s German manager Thomas Tuchel but in doing so left his side without the key elements that had taken them to their first final.

Either Brazilian Fernandinho or Spaniard Rodri have occupied the holding midfield role for the past two seasons and there was some debate over which one would start in the final. Few, if any observers, expected that both would start on the bench with Ilkay Gundogan asked to drop back into a deeper role.

It was a move that simply did not work. Without the protection they normally enjoy, City’s defence was exposed early and often as the match wore on. — Reuters

Tuchel fairytale

Porto: Bursting back into the Estadio do Dragao dressing room dressing spraying bubbly from a bottle over his squad, Thomas Tuchel let out his emotions. Losing Champions League finalist last season. Fired by Paris Saint-Germain in December. A Champions League winner six months later with Chelsea. What a whirlwind year it’s been for the German manager. Little wonder he’s not so keen to meet his own boss. It took 123 days from his hiring by Chelsea to meet Roman Abramovich. It was timed to perfection — after beating Manchester City in the final. “It was the best moment for the first meeting,” Tuchel said, “because now on it can only get worse.” AP

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