tactical and emotional account of the perfect revenge | The USA Print

Espanyol: the five hot spots of the Catalan duel

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‘I told you, I told you!’ ‘I told you we’d win them!’ Guardiola, still on the pitch, on his way to the locker room after signing his pass to the Champions League final – Inter will await him in Istanbul on June 10 – leaving behind a monumental work of art in Europe. A work that will endure over the years and who knows if in the immediate future it means the end of Ancelotti, the Madrid coach.

Guardiola felt that he was taking a trip to the past in England when he directed Barça evoking with his football that 2-6 at the Bernabéu or the 5-0 against Mourinho’s Madrid because, in addition, Ancelotti was the new Ferguson. Neither one (2023) nor the other (2011) understood the almost perfect machine for playing soccer that passed over them.

“We brought out the pain that we had been carrying inside for a year”

The game was won by City from all points of view. But there is one that was not perceived at the beginning, hidden as it was by Guardiola. And for his players. They had been waiting for a night like this for almost a year. Months and months of silently chewing on “the pain” that meant being swallowed by the Bernabéu volcano last season.

Aware of the endless wound that festered day by day, the coach found inner strength for City. An emotional engine that crushed Madrid, who, in addition, was confused by the 1-1 in the first leg, thinking that he always psychologically dominates the stage. She was wrong. “We played with the pain of a whole year in the belly, in the stomach. And we took it out from within,” Guardiola sentenced.

“There I put an interior further back; here, later”, reveals Pep

tactical and emotional account of the perfect revenge | The USA Print

Same eleven as at the Bernabéu, where he didn’t even make any changes a week ago. The same tactical structure, with Stones, a center-back disguised as a midfielder to accompany Rodri, while Bernardo Silva (far right) and Grealish (far left) occupied the wings and widened the field. Same eleven, identical structure, but a radically different City.

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“Why so much improvement? Because there I put an interior further back and here later”, said the technician with simplicity. In the first quarter of an hour, City had a tyrannical 83% possession. Ancelotti did not know how to decode what Guardiola had prepared. The movement from inside disarmed Madrid, which completed a disastrous first half. So much so that the statistics machines instantly spewed out a devastating piece of data: only 99 passes completed in 45 minutes, the worst white record in a first half since the 2003-04 Champions League.

“Yes, I had the feeling that it was one of City’s best games in all of its history,” Guardiola confessed, somewhat uneasy because his team got confused in the second half. “With the 2-0 score we rushed a lot. Nothing After halftime, Gündogan lost a ball and De Bruyne made two unnecessary transitions. We had to sink them and spin them a lot! Sink them and spin them! And we did the opposite,” said the coach in a self-critical tone.

Haaland was the bait; Bernardo Silva and Grealish, the daggers

tactical and emotional account of the perfect revenge | The USA Print

With the same drawing as in the Bernabéu, a much more aggressive and coordinated version was seen, as well as beautiful, intelligent and creative of City. Guardiola detected the problem in Madrid and found a solution. Not only did he advance inside, but he instantly connected with Haaland, becoming the decoy to sink the white defense, to the point that they seemed to live in the small area, glued to the nose of an immense Courtois.

The drama for Ancelotti came from the wings where Bernardo Silva was merciless with Camavinga. And not only because of the two goals but because he found the spaces that he did not have last week, while Grealish intimidated an outmatched Carvajal, while providing calm and calm to the attacking game of citizen.

Three shots on goal from the Portuguese and two goals (one with his head, as if he were an opportunistic nine of a lifetime), while Grealish took advantage of his dribbling (five good ones out of seven attempts) to further sink Madrid in his area. City scored four goals and none carried the signature of the ‘nine’, more lure than ever to annoy and entertain the three central defenders that Ancelotti used: Militao and Alaba at the start; later Rudiger.

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City’s game, oddly enough, leaned to the left thanks to the unlimited partnership of passes that Akanji wove at the base, Rodri and Gündogan in the middle, with Grealish on the wing. Madrid received up to 13 shots in the first half, equaling their worst record since the 2003-04 season.

“Rodri has had an imperial year”

tactical and emotional account of the perfect revenge | The USA Print

Madrid did not even see the ball in the first 45 minutes. He barely crossed the center of the field. Kroos’s shot remains, repelled by the crossbar (m. 35) as the only proof of life for Ancelotti’s inoperative team, who had no answers to the treasure that Guardiola raised in the center of the field, with Rodri becoming the true quarterback. “What a year it has been!” exclaimed the City coach in astonishment.

“Everyone talks about Haaland, but without him this would not have been possible. He has become the best midfielder we have. He has been imperial for an imperial year,” Guardiola confessed. He left Rodri a game to remember, minimizing Kroos and Modric to the point of making them invisible, to the point that Ancelotti retired the two with 2-0 down even when he had to come back. The Croatian (m. 63, Rüdiger entered) before the German (m. 70, Marco Asencio played).

But the one who played big was Rodri, with a dazzling hyperactivity: 124 touches on the ball, with 102 good passes (90.3% accuracy). Just compare him with Kroos (33 passes), Modric (29) or Valverde (30). Between the three (92) they did not reach Rodri’s passes.

Walker annulled Vinicius without committing a single foul

tactical and emotional account of the perfect revenge | The USA Print

As soon as Bernardo Silva scored 1-0, the Brazilian winger went to the bench to ask for explanations, and in a very ostensible way, from Ancelotti. Vinicius wanted solutions because in the first half he barely touched the ball. In the second, a little more. But without any transcendence, imprisoned as he was by Walker’s speed, the winger who can now say, and with pride, as if he were the Barça player Araujo, that he was indeed the Brazilian’s kryptonite.

He played the full game. And he returned to Madrid without knocking on the door. Not only that. He verified how Walker’s scenic domain, together with his speed and the excellent control of his heavy body, deprived him of two balls that could be dangerous. Nor were they because the City player gave a defensive lesson, helped at all times by Ruben Dias and/or Stones who dusted off the image of the most earthly and sterile Vinicius.

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The Real Madrid winger tried two dribbles; both were lost to Walker, who was surgical and clean. Not a single fault he committed.

“Someday it’s time, someday we’ll win it”

tactical and emotional account of the perfect revenge | The USA Print

There is no coach in the world who has knocked Madrid out of the Champions League more times. There are already three falls for the white team against Guardiola (one with Barça and two with City), who surpasses the German Ottmar Hitzfeld and the Italian Marcelo Lippi.

“The best thing this club has achieved is being there every year, getting it to be there. And one day it’s time to play a Champions League final and if we go often, often, one day we’ll win it! ‘Sure!’, proclaimed the coach from Manchester City, proud not only of the win but of the method used.

“I only know that Madrid is a fantastic team, I’m not the one who’s going to judge it. We’ve been much better and winning the way we’ve beaten them gives us great satisfaction”, said Guardiola, who is among a select group of coaches who have played in four Champions League finals alongside German Jürgen Klopp, Italian Marcelo Lippi and Scotsman Álex Ferguson.. All with four. And second only to Ancelotti, who has five.

“It is learning the lesson of last year, we have behaved like a big team. I am culé. I am from Barça,” Guardiola said in Catalan. “It took a long time, they lost three or four finals of the old European Cup before they could win it,” added the coach.

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