The UEFA Champions League loss truly wasn’t what Guardiola prepared for as Tuchel snatched home a third consecutive victory against the Spaniard
It marked the third time since Tuchel’s arrival that he defeated Pep Guardiola in the premier league and also Pep Guardiola’s first final loss in the last 11.
Ahead of the game on Saturday, Pep Guardiola had revealed in an interview of a truth what was actually Chelsea’s game pattern.
Having 3 center backs that are so close to each other and then the wing backs that spread so wide to help push opponents to the lines while the defenders draw them out from the center pitch to create a lot of space in the center for their midfielders.
Clearly this was same pattern used by Tuchel on 29th May and Guardiola did actually go into the game with a plan to ambush this plan of Tuchel’s and steal home a winner.
In doing so, Guardiola came up with a Diamond Midfield set up so as to overload the Chelsea midfielders and inturn drag out their center backs who will want to provide support to their outnumbered midfielders.
If this succeeds then City attackers could be in a 3V1 or 2V1 situation with any isolated Chelsea defender.
But one may wonder how Guardiola intended to have 5-men in the center to form a diamond structure while in position as he laid forth a 4-3-3 formation.
Below is Manchester City’s formation for the Uefa Champions League final.
In the formation above, we can see a back four of Kyle Walker, Stones, Rúben Dias and Zinchenko as the left back.
Now this is where Guardiola tried to play a master game against Tuchel in quest to gain his revenge for having lost twice in such a short time to same manager.
Guardiola instructed Zinechenko to always drop into the center, replicating same back line of Chelsea’s (3 defenders) and now with 5 men in the center with Kevin De Bryune dropping in also into the Center.
The Belgian was positioned as a false 9 in the game to help weaken Chelsea’s defense line by dropping into the center as that would then draw out Chelsea’s defenders.
This also goes in line with Guardiola’s original plan; overload the midfield, lure Chelsea’s defenders out and then use the his false 9 or the wingers to cause havoc.
The Wingers get involved in this too cause the overload would also cause Chelsea two wing backs to want to come into the center to help out their over loaded midfielders.
Below is a live representation of the above explanation.
Back four converts to back three as Zinchenko drops deep into the center to form the diamond structure with Silva, Gundogan, Foden and Kevin De Bryune. Leaving Mahrez and Sterling free.
Also another thing Guardiola did was to use high pressure against Chelsea defenders whenever they tried building up from the backline.
Chelsea since Tuchel’s arrival have always built their attacks from the backline and could then score with 3 to 4 passes.
So in order to take advantage of this backline buildups, Guardiola had his men pressuring Chelsea’s defenders whenever City were out of possession.
But this in turn became a weak plan as Kevin De Bryune isn’t a proper 9 as Sergio Aguero and each time they managed to create that needed space, he failed to take advantage of it and make that needed runs.
Below is a representation of the above explanation.
How Thomas Tuchel played a fool and lured Guardiola into his trap
This is actually where the brain works came in, Tuchel was fully aware Guardiola had studied and understood his game play after their last two encounters. Of course, even the dumbest of managers will study your game after losing twice in such a short time to you.
What then did Tuchel do to outsmart Pep Guardiola’s deadly plans?
Tuchel first of all did actually allow Pep Guardiola’s men think they were at the top of the game by letting them carry out their pressure on his defenders whenever they(Chelsea) had the ball.
Guardiola was excited his game plan is really working as planned but lost focus on one of Chelsea’s wing backs(Ben Chilwell) as he had only covered one; Reece James.
Zinchenko was always there to mark Reece James to form a 2v1 situation with his teammate, Raheem Sterling and that would warrant Kyle Walker into dropping into the backline to make a proper back three as they had planned.
Also another loophole Guardiola failed to take care of was Timo Werner’s speed.
The German always drops closer into the wide space whenever Zinchenko tried overloading Reece James.
And this led to Timo Werner been picked with a long ball whenever City seem to have covered the marks cause Havertz was busy also drawing Rúben Dias off his mark to create that space at the back for Werner to make the runs.
The above image shows Chilwell free and making that runs along the line, Werner making the run towards the ball to pick his pass, Rúben Dias trying to cover the space he ignorantly created while marking Kai Havertz.
Analyzing Chelsea’s Goal
The only goal of the game came from Ben Chilwell‘s line. The English man played his role very well in keeping the tracks.
While City pressured Chelsea’s backline, Edouard Mendy ignores his defenders and picks Ben Chilwell with a brilliant up-through pass.
Guess Edouard Mendy should be applauded for his excellent up ball to Chilwell, not every goalkeeper could easily hit the target from such a long distance.
But before Mendy could hit that killer pass, Mason Mount lured Kyle Walker off Ben Chilwell’s track by dropping into the open space in the center.
Mason Mount drops in the center, positioned in a good position and is pictured as the best option for Mendy to pick for his pass, Kyle Walker sees that and rushes to man-mark Mason Mount = Chilwell free to receive the ball and run and also leaves Walker in a 2v1 situation with Mount and Chilwell.
Mendy picks Chilwell with that brilliant up-through pass, Chilwell takes advantage of the 2v1 situation and gives to Mount.
Top three mistakes made by Guardiola during the UCL Finals;
1. Starting a false 9: Guardiola picked a false 9 ahead of Sergio Aguero who could have done more damage with the spaces Kevin De Bryune failed to utilize.
2. Believing what seemed too good to be true: Guardiola became too desperate for a revenge that he couldn’t notice Tuchel intentionally allowed his men to be pressured by Man City attackers.
This indeed helped Tuchel’s men properly execute their backline build up plan by picking their wingers who were always ready to make the run.
3. Replicating Tuchel’s back 3 defense structure: Guardiola only opened more loopholes when he decided to replicate Tuchel’s back 3 not minding Chelsea’s attacking prowess.