The highest levels of the game Manchester City coincide with the moments in which Guardiola blindly trusted Bernardo Silva. When he did not move him to the extreme position or, worse, when he treated him like any other worker, relegating him to the substitution in the personnel management rotation wheel that brought him so little benefit when the Portuguese was the sidelined. Having overcome the psychological experiments and the episodes of melancholy that they brought about, City has not stopped growing for a year. The victory against Chelsea, this saturday in premiere, confirms a collective progression triggered by Bernardo’s prodigious left foot, the genius of rhythm that amalgamates everything from the midfield, accompanied this time by De Bruyne, the man of the definitive actions, author of the 1-0.
Ederson Moraes, Laporte, Cancelo, John Stones, Walker, Rodrigo, De Bruyne (Gündogan, min. 84), Bernardo Silva, Foden (Gabriel Jesus, min. 87), Grealish and Sterling
Arrizabalaga, Malang Sarr, Rüdiger, Thiago Silva, Kovacic, Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonso (Mason Mount, min. 80), Kante, Christian Pulisic (Timo Werner, min. 68), Hakim Ziyech (Callum Hudson Odoi, min. 68) and Lukaku
goals 1-0 min. 69: De Bruyne.
Referee Craig Pawson
Yellow cards Marcos Alonso (min. 6) and Kovacic (min. 31)
City have long since become the best-playing team in the world. That he lost the Champions League final against Chelsea only highlights the random nature of the results, not of the game, which usually rewards the best at long distances. Chelsea was still in second place at the end of the match, but 13 points behind, practically sunk in a whirlpool of internal conflicts that make their fight for the Premier a pipe dream.
Tuchel said on Friday that he had learned a lesson from the first leg loss at Stamford Bridge in September. He had learned, he said, that against City it is not convenient to overload the defensive framework at the cost of taking away the tools for their players to take the initiative. His speech was eloquent and pleasing to the ears of fans and leaders, who demand more action and less contraction. But the facts showed that Tuchel really doesn’t think he has anything to change. After all, why change the formula that allowed him to win the last Champions League by playing on the counterattack?
The question is pertinent because from Roman Abramovich to the employees who encourage his sports management, the conviction spreads that Tuchel has lost the rudder. Tormented by the contradiction between what is politically convenient and what his nature demands of him, Tuchel spent half a game somatizing his overflowing emotions with fuss. Apparently irritated with his players. Whether it was because Lukaku didn’t get away on time or because Thiago Silva pushed his defense too far back, the coach jumped to the sideline to gesticulate effusively. He seemed less attentive to reality than to the recording of the television cameras, in charge of showing the audiences that he asks his soccer players to go out, to attack, to deploy in the opposite field, but that they do not pay attention to him.
It was amazing that a manager who wants to attack did not seek a line-up with Jorginho, whom he left on the bench, or provide more order than an ultra-conservative scheme based on 5-4-1, where all starting maneuvers were stalled unless someone will find a way to throw a ball at the distant Lukaku.
Insecure as Kanté and Kovacic failed to find Ziyech and Pulisic in mid-positions, alarmed by the evidence of the lack of security in each ball combination, Thiago Silva, Rudiger and Azpilicueta were quick to make the most prudent decision. Between going out and staying to protect their area, they stayed. And the further back they got, the further away Lukaku was, who finished the game with a single shot between the three sticks. Chelsea’s only noteworthy shot, after the break, the result of a counterattack book. Ederson deflected it and the score remained 0-0, resisting the invasive evidence of Bernardo Silva and his crew, with Sterling in a very prominent role as the most unbalancing player in the final meters.
Kepa’s great save
Chelsea got into their bunker with no more automatism than filtering the rival’s associations so that Kepa was not alone when receiving the shots. In this, everyone behaved in an impeccable way, tight, disciplined, dedicated, and even so they could not prevent Grealish from going hand in hand with the Spanish goalkeeper after a poor delivery by Kovacic in an attempt to break De Bruyne’s pressure. and Bernard. Only the shrinking and elasticity of Kepa, who covered all the angles with his legs and arms, deflected the shot that opened the account after half an hour.
Tuchel had just made a double substitution (Pulisic and Ziyech out, Werner and Hudson-Odoi in) when Kepa’s second successive long throw-in ended up in Rodri’s possession, who gave it to De Bruyne in the opposite half. The Belgian’s slalom, barely cut by a blow from Kante, caught the brooding Kovacic off guard and scared Thiago Silva. Taking advantage of the gap, De Bruyne armed his right hand and twisted the ball with the inside, sending it like a bullet stuck to the far post. Kepa stretched as much as he could to no avail.
The 1-0 was final. There were 20 minutes left but they only served for the winner of the last Champions League final to show his impotence against the loser without either of them betraying their way of understanding football.