How 'overthinking' has scripted Pep Guardiola’s Champions League failures
- Against Chelsea, playing Raheem Sterling ahead of central midfielders was questioned
- Guardiola has been blamed for overthinking in the big games of the Champions League by experts
- Guardiola's has reached the final of the competition only once in the last ten years
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was in the line of fire following his 1-0 loss to Chelsea in the Champions League final on Saturday. The Spaniard has often been criticised for experimenting with his tactics on the big European nights, and despite his insistance on having selected the best possible team, he once again faced all too familiar questions about 'overthinking'.
Many thought playing Raheem Sterling ahead of either Fernandinho or Rodri cost City the final. Sterling, a winger, has been in and out of the team in recent months and his selection ahead of the defensive midfielder pair, one of who has started 59 of the last 60 games, seemed to be a risky gamble.
Sterling was kept quiet for most of the final by Chelsea right-back Reece James as the London club exploited the lack of a defensive cover in midfield to dominate much of the final. The only goal of the night came from a defence spilitting pass from Mason Mount to send Kai Havertz through on goal, while N'Golo Kante was there to thwart the danger in a similar situation involving Kevin de Bruyne near the Chelsea goal.
Pep's history with tinkering
In the 2019-20 season, when City faced Lyon in the quarterfinals, Guardiola opted for a 3-5-2 formation, which was relatively new to the team. And it did not work well for the Cityzens as it hindered their creativity. And the very high backline also added to their misery as the French team scored their first goal in a 3-1 win with a simple long ball behind the defense.
During Guardiola’s Bayern Munich days, going into the second leg of the semifinals against Real Madrid in 2014, he went for a 4-2-4 formation, which resulted in a humiliating 4-0 defeat at home.
In 2016, facing Monaco in the round of 16, Guardiola’s men won the home leg 5-3 and lost the away leg 1-3. Again, the focal point was Guardiola’s style of attack-at-all-cost.
A year later, when City faced Liverpool in the quarterfinal, Guardiola opted for an extra CM, Ilkay Gundogan, instead of winger Sterling, in the first leg. This enabled Liverpool to dominate the midfield, eventually losing the match 3-0.
Taking a closer look at Guardiola’s managerial career in the Champions League, he has been subject to raised eyebrows on multiple occasions. He has been blamed for overthinking in the big games of the competition, having never won a Champions League since his departure from Barcelona in 2012.