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Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City masterclass ‘best European performance since he left Barcelona’


Pep Guardiola put on a tactical masterclass to secure Manchester City victory against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Wednesday night – the Spaniard’s best European performance since leaving Barcelona, according to one member of our podcast panel.

After a shaky first half where PSG led 1-0 thanks to a Marquinhos header on the quarter-hour mark, City fought back and put on a whirlwind display against the French champions to win 2-1 at the Parc des Princes and set up a tantalising second leg on May 4.

Dotun Abijoh, Justin Cole and Deji Odedina from The Beautiful Game Podcast were joined by Eurosport’s Pete Sharland to discuss the midweek action, with Sharland declaring that Guardiola’s gameplan worked to perfection.

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“I think Pep knew exactly what PSG were going to come out and do,” he said.

“They were going to blitz them like they blitzed Bayern Munich. He backed his team that even if they scored a goal, they were good enough across 90 minutes to still win the game. They just had to weather that storm and concede only one or none at all.

“Mauricio Pochettino spoke before the game about how he was going up against the best team in the world. It was a really good example of why Guardiola is considered one of the best managers in the world.

“He got pretty much every decision right and I was a little bit surprised not to see Raheem Sterling start. But Sterling was not the player that was needed for the game that Guardiola wanted to play. He wanted to sit, defend, be tight and then in the second half just dominate the ball. That’s exactly what they did.

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It was a real masterclass from Pep and it’s probably not a stretch to say that’s his best European performance since he left Barcelona.

The panel also reflected on Chelsea’s tense 1-1 draw with Real Madrid on Tuesday night where the Premier League side arguably could have won the game with leading striker Timo Werner missing a great goalscoring opportunity early in the first half.

Abijoh felt Real could not cope with Chelsea’s intensity and were made to look “average”.

“Real Madrid want the game at their pace,” he said. “If you take it away from their pace they’re an average team. They don’t have the legs to keep up with the physicality and the intensity that these Premier League clubs play at.

“Chelsea will be kicking themselves because Real Madrid are going to be better in the second leg. If you were really going to put the foot on the gas then you had to put Madrid to the sword. They were there for the taking.”

‘Chelsea will be kicking themselves – Real Madrid are an average team’

Sharland feels the negative reaction to Werner’s miss from point-blank range, which was saved by Thibaut Courtois, was harsh.

“He’s super frustrated he’s missed these chances,” he said. “I do think the first one is a brilliant save from Courtois. It falls into the category of the striker has to score, but it is a great save.

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Abijoh added: “It’s one of those that you’ve just got to make contact and it’s a goal. It’s harsh on Werner. He missed a chance but any other player that hit the ball like that would have scored, but because it’s Werner and the form that he’s in he missed it.

That’s all it is! I don’t think it’s a horrible miss if I’m being totally honest.

Odedina replied: “You’ve got to make the keeper null and void in that situation. You have to take him out of the equation. I felt Werner could have placed it.”

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