The Blues failed to impress on the biggest stage after Pep Guardiola surprised everyone with a shocking tactical change in the Champions League final.
The manager put out a team without a recognised defensive midfielder, changing the way his side have played so far this season. As a result, the Blues didn’t look anything like themselves, and that decision led to a disoriented display at the Estadio do Dragao.
Chelsea’s Kai Havertz put his team into the lead in the first half and the London side kept City away from their goal for the rest of the game courtesy of a robust defensive display. N’Golo Kante bossed the midfield and helped his team get their hands on the Champions League trophy.
The Blues will come back from this, they have to, but now it's time to sulk and absorb the pain before the players move on to their respective national teams for the Euros.
Here are five things we learned from yesterday’s numbing defeat…
This one’s on Pep
Pep Guardiola’s men collapsed on the pitch when it mattered the most, but much was down to his own decisions. Just when the fans thought that the Catalan had learnt his lesson from his previous Champions League blunders, he came out with a surprise of his own. He decided to go into the game without a defensive midfielder - an awfully wrong decision.
From starting the season with two defensive midfielders, to ending it with none, Guardiola got it horribly wrong on Saturday night. Gundogan was exposed, players were played out of position and Fernandinho’s presence was missed in such a crucial game.
The horrors of Lyon were just fading away, and fans started trusting Pep, thinking he would have realised his mistakes and learnt from it, but all of it went down the drain last night. There’s no doubt about his quality, he’s still the best manager on the planet, but his ‘surprises’ on important Champions League nights have let us down once again, and rest assured – this one’s on Pep.
Heartbreak for Agüero
In what could have been one of football’s most beautiful endings, Sergio Agüero left the pitch with tears in his eyes.
The man who promised to be with us till we got our hands on that Champions League trophy, had to see his hopes crash in front of him on Saturday. The Argentine had given us nothing but joy, the least we could have given him was a Champions League winner’s medal.
In a way, Agüero’s win would have served as a redemption for Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Joe Hart for not winning the Champions League with the club they loved, but in the end, we failed you, Sergio.
Need to shake things up...
There is an urgent need to go back to the drawing board and start planning for the future, at least that’s what the best sides do after a painful loss. Pep Guardiola and the board will need to make some changes to the squad, replace the deadwood and pump some hunger back into the side.
A world class striker is a must - be it Harry Kane or Erling Haaland - because the Blues simply cannot play without a marksman or rely solely on the underperforming Gabriel Jesus for another season.
Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish could serve as a fresh source of creativity and a proper left back is necessary after multiple seasons without one. All of this will definitely come at a cost, some big names could be shown the door, but change is inevitable and in this case a must.
Chelsea, cross town rivals Manchester United and Liverpool will all be there, gunning for that crown next season and the Blues must make changes if they want to keep winning.
City do learn invaluable lessons
The Blues have always dreamt of winning the Champions League and have on various occasions looked like the favourites to get their hands on that trophy - but agonising defeats in the past have kept them from achieving their ultimate goal.
As they walked past that giant silver trophy last night, Pep Guardiola and his players will have learnt another valuable lesson from this deeply upsetting defeat. It will be an experience from which the club can either bounce back stronger than ever or go into a downward spiral and collapse.
The team are accused of lacking experience in such high-pressure knockout games, but after last night, there is nothing more left to experience. We can only hope that the players and the club can use this pain and agony to transform into a vengeful European beast next season.
Overall a successful season!
From the dark abyss of the bottom 10 to being crowned the Premier League champions with three games to play, Manchester City have come a long way this season.
Don’t let a one-off Champions League Final loss distract you from the fact that Pep Guardiola’s men have played 61 of the total 62 games to be played this season, only missing out on the FA Cup Final. City have remarkably turned their season around since the beginning of 2021 and the two title wins will still be a brilliant achievement when we look back at this unprecedented, COVID-hit season in a few years’ time.
The good thing about football is that it starts all over. We close this chapter and start writing another brilliant one in a few weeks’ time.
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