Pep Guardiola, one of the best coaches in history, is also wrong. And like every human being, he learns from mistakes. The last final with Manchester City, in 2021 against Chelsea in Portugal, the Catalan went from studious. He kept his eye on the cast of London and neglected his own: overanalysis won over his heart. Thus, he went out to play without a central midfielder and without an area striker. He lost 1-0 and the criticism fell on him.
None of that happened now in Turkey, beyond the fact that the English picture did not shine or shine. F ue simple Guardiola and put those who had to put in the place they had been playing (only modified the position of John Stones). And City beat Inter 1-0 and were able to lift the Champions League with a goal from Rodri, that Spanish midfielder who had left his place in the final at the Do Dragao stadium in 2021.
Manchester City were champions without playing well, so Guardiola's first reaction was not to celebrate, but to go and greet Simone Inzaghi, the rival coach. Then Pep did give himself to joy. And he deserved it: in the end, his team was the best of the tournament (won 8, drew 5 and did not lose).
Together again. Pep Guardiola and the Champions League trophy. Photo: AP
In big games, the midfield is usually the key. And there, in that sector, was where Inter prevailed in the battle. He did not let him be the Italian cast and made him lose his identity, so the English team looked lost, alien. Those commanded by Inzaghi did not press forward or get behind: they sought to populate the middle sector with legs. Thus, the central midfielder Marcelo Brozovic could be in the same line of suffocation as Lautaro Martínez, who defended lying on the left. Nicolò Barella and Hakan Calhanoglu were also intense.
Inter was better in the first stage because they played better than they were supposed to and because they looked for something different from what they had been doing. Perhaps the scenario weighed on City. Spaniard Rodri missed more passes in Turkey than in the rest of the season and John Stones struggled to fit in the middle. There were also no spaces for Ilkay Gündogan and for Kevin De Bruyne, who did not play behind Haaland, but inside on the right. Inter's idea was to get half the pitch and come out against. The first part of the plan went perfectly, but it did not bring danger to Ederson's goal.
City's game didn't flow because it didn't find passing circuits. In the few that he succeeded, he could disturb, as in that diagonal of Haaland that culminated with a good save of Onana to the Norwegian striker. In addition, Pep's team risked little. On top of that, in the English, De Bruyne was quickly injured, who had also left with discomfort in the other Champions League final against Chelsea, in 2021.
In the second half everything continued in the same way, except for that lethal run into the free space of Bernardo Silva. The Portuguese found an alley and Akanji sent the deep pass; Silva's cross behind was served to Rodri, who defined by opening his foot to score the only goal of the final. "I played for shit, but I scored the goal," the 26-year-old midfielder said afterward.
Julian Alvarez did not leave the bank. Maybe he's a champion. Photo: AFP
Of course City had to suffer, it could not be otherwise. Before Rodri's goal, Ederson denied Lautaro Martinez the shout after a mistake in the exit of the English. And already on the end, the Brazilian goalkeeper saved an impossible header to Romelu Lukaku, although it should be said that the definition of the Belgian went to the exact place where Ederson was. Julian Alvarez, meanwhile, did not add minutes.
Without shining much less, Manchester City took off the mufa and could consecrate itself for the first time in the Champions League. And yes, Guardiola's team won by playing ugly, as everyone does. This is also why Pep is the best coach in the world.