Decisions that Cost Manchester City the Champions League Final

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Manchester City were just 90 minutes away from glory in Porto when they took on Chelsea in the Champions League final. But their day ended in agony as the Blues emerged victorious and a questionable decision or two from Pep Guardiola contributed to the defeat.

For all the tactical brilliance that the Spaniard has, there is a tendency, especially in European games, for him to complicate things. There have been instances where the Spanish boss went with a different formation all together but in this case, it was the exclusion of a certain player.

Fernandinho has been one of the stars of the City midfield ever since his arrival in 2013. Though the presence of Rodri has restricted his appearances this term, the Brazilian’s experience and tactical acumen are crucial to the team.

And in this season’s Champions League tournament, the midfielder has made some important contributions. A notable example was the semi-final second leg against Paris Saint-Germain where he frustrated the likes of Neymar and Angel Di Maria. Given how well he had played, it was expected to be a mere formality that he will start the final.

But Guardiola decided to try something new in the biggest game of the season. Not only was Fernandinho left out, but Rodri also didn’t make the starting line-up. City took to the pitch without a recognised defensive midfielder against a team that loves to hit on the counter. This was a recipe for disaster, and it was clear to see how this decision made the west Londoners play with more freedom.

rodri

In hindsight, City were lucky to concede just one goal as the lack of a presence in front of their defence, gave their opponents too many chances particularly in the first half. And the impact of the Brazilian midfield general was instantly noticeable when he came on for Bernardo Silva.

Immediately, the Citizens had more control in the middle of the pitch and were able to find some gaps in the Chelsea setup. One can only speculate how differently the match would have gone had Fernandinho been included from the start. It definitely would have given Manchester City more of a chance to get behind the Blues’ defence. As City head back to England, Guardiola will be left thinking about his decision-making.

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