Guardiola does not stop changing the formation and plan. At least that’s what we’ve seen weekly for years, and this is confirmed by his assistant for most of these years, Dominic Torrent. Even in the pre-season friendly, Pep takes very seriously, and does not stop changing. (2)
This was the narrative that dominated the scene after the announcement of the Manchester City formation, and of course its spread was understandable because it is the millionth time that Guardiola has made a similar change, and it does not seem logical to the general football audience before an important match in the Champions League.
Then he would have faced West Brom at the Etihad Stadium, so Mindy started on the left and Cancelo returned to the right back. Gundogan returned to the pivot as well, accompanied by Rodri, and in the front, Stirling participated on the right and two delegations on the left, and each of them made the strong side towards the line, and of course it did not stop at this point, in the 75th minute Walker entered as a substitute for Mindy so that Cancelo returned to the left again, albeit Confusion has hit you and stopped reading a few lines ago, we don’t blame you.
The important thing is that this is what Pep does all the time, against any opponent, in any tournament, no matter how important the match is. In fact, Dominic Torrent was talking about the time Pep suggested starting Messi as a fictitious striker in the famous Bernabeu, and Torrent remembered how surprised he was at such an idea in the most important game of the season.
The idea succeeded resoundingly, but in a parallel world, in which Real Madrid managed to withstand while the match was a debate, Pep would have turned into a loser who changed the position of his best wings, and perhaps the best wings in the world at the time, and lost the most important matches of the season for this reason.
The problem was never Pep’s tendency for permanent change. Rather, this was perhaps one of the most important weapons of his career. Not only because the era in which the coach fixes the formation and the plan is long gone, and not only because opponents often change in turn, but also because this permanent liquidity was Pep’s most important weapon against chaos.
This is a paradox that never takes its right to speak. The changes were Pep’s way of defeating his opponents, but they were also essential to keeping his players motivated, and to fuse them into a system of superior individuality and control. The changes were necessary to maintain order, and the problem was never the same. The problem was, is, and will continue to be when Guardiola makes a mistake, especially when the mistake is so grave.
Tuchel has never been a defensive coach, at least not in the common sense among fans of the game. In fact, Tuchel was and still is one of the most influenced by Guardiola, but he came to Chelsea in a difficult moment, and dealt with it very smartly, and most importantly with humility.
The game of reverse transformations and quick rebounds is not easy, but, in most circumstances, it is easier than others, especially when you have wings at the speed of Werner and Police. Tuchel did not have enough time to communicate his ideas to his players, but he went to make the best of what was available; Building a team that defends well and is difficult to penetrate, and at the same time is able to surprise opponents in transformations.
This is the only solution we know if you want to get what you want from an administration like Chelsea; Finding the fastest and shortest way to achieve positive results. It is clear that the club has been associated with this identity since the acquisition of Roman Abramovich, and in the case of Tuchel, the goal was to build a solid ground for negotiations with the management in the summer, especially around the file of contracts and the necessary changes in the structure of the team, which caused his departure from Paris in the first place.
All this largely determined Tuchel’s options, and within a month the German had moved from trying to try Havertz in the position of midfielder No. 8, to keeping everyone in their positions without fundamental changes, perhaps with the exception of using Kante in different roles, which culminated in the second leg. Against Real Madrid, but it was not entirely new to the French prodigy, after a similar, less glamorous experience with Sarri.
This context was very appropriate for the Premiership fans and media in general, and Chelsea fans and media in particular; He lifted the pressure on the man early, and brought the quick results that everyone wished to save a disastrous season, and most importantly, his tactical adjustments showed players like Rudiger, Christiansen and Jorginho better than they were with Lampard, especially the first who benefited greatly from the moral boost to play in a three-line defense, enabling him to Physically rushing in duels on the line and in the middle of the field without worry.
Once the style stabilized at Chelsea, every new match became an added value for imagination in London. Each new gain is a happy surprise for a team that was only waiting for the season to try hard to compete for the top four. Briefly; A fast, direct, young team that plays with relatively low pressure and expectations in the league, and without pressure at all in the Champions League, facing the team that bears the greatest psychological and mental burden ever in this particular tournament.
From here arose the second narrative that spread after the match, a narrative that we can call the narrative of specialists. In his analysis, Michael Cox writes via The Athletic that Pep’s style of pressure has been the cause of quite a number of dangerous shifts his defense has suffered. This was the opinion of Hassan Beltagy and Ahmed Walid as well, the duo who helped us read the match before it happened, through a long analysis published by “Maidan”. (3) (4)
triple; Cox, Hassan and Walid believe that the triple pressure on the Chelsea defense was the reason for leaving huge spaces on the edges, especially for Chilwell, who was able to benefit from them, and that this particular detail was more influential in the result than the absence of both Fernandinho and Rodri. (5)
What we think the two narratives are true; Guardiola would not have been able to protect his defense in a match like that with Gundogan as the sole pivot, and also the presence of either Fernandinho or Rodri in his position would not have protected the Catalan from the effects of the failed pressure pattern he used.
Pep went to press the Chelsea defense hat-trick, who is not exceptionally good at taking the ball out, costing him huge spaces on the sides from which he made the Chelsea goal after the sentence was repeated twice in the minutes preceding it; Mendy or Thiago Silva send the long ball high over Mahrez to Chilwell, who turns it from one touch to Mount, who drops to put Walker and Stones in trouble; If they follow him, Chilwell will become unattended in an open line forward, and if they leave him, he will be able to attack them and face the goal in a preferred position with support from Chilwell, and if they go up to face him and Chilwell in a 2 by 2 position, this means huge areas in their back that could cause a disaster if Mount managed to manage A quick turn or a lightning dribble, which is what happened, surprised Pep with a 2 on 2 position in his defence; Zinchenko and Diach against Werner and Havertz, but the Ukrainian’s body position did not help him to block the way on Havertz.
Ironically, that sentence is what Pep used in the first match in which he decoded Liverpool’s fierce pressure; The Anfield match in November 2018. At that time, goalkeeper Ederson was sending the high ball to Walker as well, who turns it to Bernardo (the second pivot in this case) with one touch as well, so the Portuguese calls the pressure of the Liverpool left back (Robertson) before quickly delivering it to David Silva, and from there the Spaniard fired it, longitudinal towards the Liverpool areas, to create a 3 on 3 position.
Tuchel deceived Guardiola and dismantled his pressure in the same way that Pep did with Klopp 3 years ago, and the Catalans had no excuse for falling into the German trap, but the problem was not only in that detail, but it seemed as if Pep had done everything to ensure his defeat in this match.
Now let go of all the tactical details for a moment, all the right and wrong pressing patterns, the spaces behind it all and how to exploit them, and let us tell you very simply that Gundogan deserved to be sent off at the start of the second half. Why? Because he is not qualified to occupy the position of the pivot player, and does not have the physical or defensive capabilities that qualify him to face the transformations in general, not to mention the transformations of Chelsea in particular.
The German’s first warning shot came in the 34th minute, when he interfered with extreme recklessness on Mount’s foot in an attempt to prevent him from receiving a longitudinal ball. This is another of Gundogan’s problems that caused huge problems for Labib in the first half. Not only facing the long balls that the German loses for understandable reasons, but also constantly losing the second balls.
The second shot came in the 53rd minute; Once again, Gundogan commits the same intervention in the same manner on Havertz’s feet, although the game was not so rough and frivolous. Matthew Lahoz was merciful and didn’t kill the match at that moment, but that unnecessary frivolity is the title of Pep’s pick on the night.
“I expected Fernandinho to participate.” That’s what Tuchel said, and it makes perfect sense. The Brazilian is the most capable City player to face transformations over the past years, and his advanced age (36 years) did not prevent him from providing great performances this season if he received sufficient rest before it. Fernandinho is not a perfect player, of course, and his roughness is often flawed in his turn, but it is the last solution that the Brazilian resorts to in difficult situations, and these situations do not include the competition of Mount for a long ball, or the loss of a speed race on the line for a player slowly Havertz. (6)
In fact, we believe that Gundogan’s involvement was more effective than Pep’s failed pressure plan. Chelsea needed a difficult and risky sentence to override City’s pressure, and it was easy for Mendy to miss the long pass to Chilwell, and City could create a direct shift in a very dangerous area, just as Alison did in the Anfield match this season, and then Tochel would have turned into the failed philosopher. Who demanded that his goalkeeper exceed his abilities, and gave the match to City on a plate of gold.
The whole narrative would have changed because you know as well as the fans judge everything by its outcome, not its logical possibilities of success, but what is never forgivable is that Chelsea didn’t need any innovations to expose Gundogan’s flaws in transformations. The flaws that Pep knows as well as anyone who has seen Gundogan playing football in recent years. Chelsea only needed to put him in constant confrontations with his players without additional details or traps, and his expulsion was inevitably more effective than being late with a single goal. An error that cannot be logically justified. It’s that simple.
This was the “panic button,” as Jonathan Wilson called it in his post-match analysis; Tuchel stuck to his best guns, while Pip decided he needed completely new ones for no good reason. Why would you give up on a successful pressing system and structure that you tried with Chelsea himself more than once? we do not know. What calls for you to leave your best players in the face of transformations on the bench while the world’s most proficient team of transformations face the Champions League final and the most important match of your career? we do not know. Pep not only defeated himself and his team, but also prevented us from watching a match that would have been much better if his options were more logical. (7)
Tuchel has thrown Guardiola into the vortex of overthinking, and if he somehow comes back from it, that would be a huge surprise. Each new defeat leads Guardiola to blame himself and think of a way to avoid it in the future, but it also makes him more obsessed with himself as well. The result is that he has developed an unpleasant habit of turning himself and his team into a laughing stock after these matches; He plans the game with a goal in his head, and the opposite ends up happening.
He faces Chelsea as he tries to protect himself from their quick rebounds, so the solution from his point of view is to score early in their goal to force them out, and since Tuchel has built the best defensive structure in Europe in recent months, then Guardiola should snatch his early goal during the building stage of play for Chelsea He puts pressure on the defense with a large number of players, and he manages to somehow overcome the pressure and make the transformations that Guardiola was trying to avoid in the first place. This is a very miserable case of self-fulfilling prophecies.
Guardiola is a very complicated person, and in many cases the popular narrative grieves him, hardens him and ignores the circumstances of the match, and at other times the fans were right even if they did not know the reason for being right. This time it was very simple, and even if Pep had executed his pressure perfectly, Gundogan would have let him down in the transformations, and even if Gundogan was not to let him down in the transformations, Sterling would have let him down in the opportunities that would be available to him, and the two had a long history in this and that, and he is not to blame Only Guardiola to include them in these centers.
In the famous story of Somerset Maugham “A Rendezvous in Samarra”, the English novelist tells of a servant who went to the market in Baghdad, and if he was surprised by the Angel of Death, he looked at him threateningly. Towards him as quickly as possible, as the angel of death’s gaze was not a look of fright, but rather a look of astonishment, because he met him in Baghdad while he was on a date with him in Samarra. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Of course, we do not need to tell you about the identity of the Angel of Death on the night of May 29, 2021. (8)