Home » Manchester City: Shortly before the final, Guardiola’s great humiliations are listed

Manchester City: Shortly before the final, Guardiola’s great humiliations are listed

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Manchester City: Shortly before the final, Guardiola’s great humiliations are listed
Champions League Manchester City

Shortly before the final, Guardiola’s great humiliations are listed

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The Champions League final between Manchester City and Inter Milan takes place in Istanbul on Saturday. Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland are determined to make history. For City it would be the first triumph in the premier class.

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Manchester City and Pep Guardiola are on the verge of redemption. Only one victory separates club and coach from the long-awaited Champions League triumph. Will they manage it in the final against Milan or will “City-itis” strike again?

HPep Guardiola publicly accepted the bouquet after landing on the runway, but the object of his desire is different in Istanbul. With the cup in his hands, the Spanish coach star wants to get back on the plane on Sunday so that the whole football world can see: he can still do it!

Guardiola has been chasing his third Champions League triumph for twelve years, sometimes tripping himself up spectacularly in the pursuit of perfection. In the final on Saturday (9 p.m. / ZDF and DAZN) with Manchester City against outsiders Inter Milan, he should refrain from daring experiments. Too much is at stake: the title treble and the maiden victory for Man City – and also his personal reputation as a coaching genius.

“I’m measured by winning the Champions League,” says Guardiola

What: Action Images via Reuters

“We have to win the Champions League,” said Guardiola shortly before the showdown in the Atatürk Olympic Stadium: “Sooner or later you have to win in Europe to reach the next level.” The Premier League titles already won this season and in the FA Cup are nice though. But the longing of the club, which has spent an estimated two billion euros on transfers since the sheikhs from Abu Dhabi came on board in 2008, is the Champions League. “I’m measured by winning them,” Guardiola knows.

He did that twice with FC Barcelona (2009 and 2011). But with Man City and before that with Bayern Munich, bad luck and Guardiola’s miscalculations prevented the big coup. The day before the final, the British newspaper “Mirror” listed “Pep Guardiola’s Champions League failures” again. “The Independent” wrote of the “City-itis” that Guardiola had already afflicted: failing in the most tragic way possible shortly before the goal of one’s dreams.

While it was Spanish teams like Bayern that he failed at, a colorful mix of English, French and a Spanish team developed in Manchester, which eliminated City in a very surprising way. The semi-final defeats in 2016 against Atletico and 2022 against Real Madrid were particularly bitter and close. Manchester was clearly better in both duels, but missed too many chances. Guardiola was blamed for the 2021 final defeat because he had six attacking midfielders, but neither his two regular sixes nor a real striker.

Guardiola’s failure in the Champions League since 2014

  • 2013/14: semi-finals, Real Madrid
  • 2014/15: semi-finals, FC Barcelona
  • 2015/16: Semifinals, Atletico Madrid (all with Bavaria)
  • 2016/17: Round of 16, AS Monaco
  • 2017/18: quarter-finals, Liverpool FC
  • 2018/19: quarter-finals, Tottenham Hotspur
  • 2019/20: quarter-finals, Olympique Lyon
  • 2020/21: Final, Chelsea FC
  • 2021/22: Semifinals, Real Madrid (all with Manchester)

Simone Inzaghi is planning another final humiliation for Guardiola as against Chelsea and then coach Thomas Tuchel. But the Inter coach considers his fellow coaches to be the “best coach in the world” who has divided modern football into two eras: “Before and after Guardiola.” Even before superstars like Erling Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne and The Nerazzurri have great respect for Ilkay Gündogan. “But in football in particular there are hundreds of examples,” said Milan’s German winger Robin Gosens, “in which the supposedly smaller player beats the larger player”. And teammate Federico Dimarco illustrated what is probably Inter’s greatest chance of winning: “For us, the final is a dream, for them it’s an obsession.”

An oversized Champions League trophy stands on Istanbul's Taksim Square

An oversized Champions League trophy stands on Istanbul’s Taksim Square


The pressure on Manchester and especially on Guardiola is immense. In view of this, the coach should not deviate from the successful formation and tactics. Haaland plays a key role in this, as he can hardly contain his ambition before his first premier class final. “I’ve dreamed of winning the Champions League my whole life,” said the Norwegian striker, who was signed from Borussia Dortmund ahead of the season as a completely new element in the Cityzens’ game. 52 goals in 52 competitive games are a brilliant testimony to the season – but even that would lose its shine without the premier class triumph.

Gündogan in his parents’ homeland

It is particularly emotional for Gündogan, who leads Manchester as captain in his favorite competition in his Turkish parents’ home country of all places. The national player also draws additional motivation from his final defeats with BVB (2013) and Man City (2021). But you shouldn’t “overdo it,” warned the 32-year-old, whose contract expires at the end of the season. Playing with the ball has to be “very correct, very precise – and it has to hurt you”.

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Inter wants to counter this with great endurance and team spirit. “In important games, my boys have always managed to unleash energies that we thought we didn’t have,” said coach Inzaghi. The team around the former Bundesliga professionals Hakan Calhanoglu, Edin Dzeko and Henrich Mchitarjan is well-rehearsed, disciplined, defensively strong – and up front the Argentine world champion Lautaro Martínez is considered a difference player.

But on paper, the opponent’s squad is much better staffed. The chances for Man City and Guardiola to end the Champions League trauma are good. “We had to swallow poison, but in football and in sport you always get another chance,” said Guardiola. But he should also use it on Saturday, otherwise the star coach only flies home with a bouquet of flowers.

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