DANNY MURPHY: Pep Guardiola’s attack options turned out to be too predictable against Chelsea

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DANNY MURPHY: Pep Guardiola’s attacking line-up turned out to be too predictable against Chelsea … it’s not the first time he’s misunderstood tactics in the Champions League and ruined Manchester City’s dream.

  • What on paper looked like an offensive line-up turned out to be too predictable
  • The threat from Sterling, De Bruyne, Foden and Mahrez never materialized
  • Tuchel established a well-organized defense unit and Chelsea were worthy victors

Pep Guardiola thought about it again during a big Champions League night. He didn’t make a mistake like last year against Lyon, Manchester City lost because Chelsea were also fantastic on the night, but what on paper looked like an attacking line-up turned out to be too predictable.

I don’t really think the lack of a midfielder, Rodri or Fernandinho, cost City in the back. The goal they got was more of a case of Oleksandr Zinchenko not following his runner and Ederson got into a blood storm coming out too quickly. Other than that, City was sturdy enough at the back.

But where Pep was wrong was in the final third. The delectable options of Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez never materialized as Foden and De Bruyne were used as the two false nines and Chelsea’s back three didn’t have to worry about someone running after him .

Chelsea comfortably dealt with the threat from Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden as false nines

It would have been more of a threat if Sterling had been deployed centrally and De Bruyne had fallen deeper and pulled the strings.

You always want your most creative player to have more touches than anyone else and that was not the case with De Bruyne on Saturday night, even before his injury.

I’ve talked about his versatility and his contribution to every position on the field, but at the greatest opportunity you want him to have more influence than he was as the farthest player forward.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola rethought it during a major Champions League night

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola rethought it during a major Champions League night

He really needed a De Bruyne to deliver him from midfield, it would have been more beneficial if he’d been number 10 and let Sterling or Gabriel Jesus score.

Pep is not crazy and he will think about that afterwards. In hindsight, of course, is a great thing, but it didn’t work out at night and it’s not the first time at the Champions League business end for City.

Another consequence of not starting Rodri or Fernandinho is that Ilkay Gundogan remained the deepest midfielder. That’s the Gundogan who has scored 17 goals this season and whose forward runs were so important in City’s 21-game winning streak as they peaked.

Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne struggled to impress on Saturday night

Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne struggled to impress on Saturday night

De Bruyne did not miss Gundogan closer to him and that was probably also a mistake in City’s tactics.

Let’s sing the winners too. Chelsea fullbacks Reece James and Ben Chilwell have just played the best games of their career.

Thomas Tuchel has set up a well-organized defense unit and Mount’s pass in front of goal was great. Chelsea looked impregnable, but they were helped by Pep not playing his cards wisely. With the way the game was set up, there was always a good chance that the team that scored first would win.

Manchester City may have earned it over the course of the season, but on the evening Chelsea were worthy winners

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