The manager of Manchester City, Pep Guardiola has refused to give excuses for failing to qualify City for the semi-finals stage of the UEFA Champions League for the third consecutive season. He stressed that the mistakes his squad made in both ends of the pitch cost the club a semi-finals ticket.
On Saturday, August 15, 2020, Manchester City were stunned by French Ligue 1 club Lyon in the quarter-finals stage of the 2019-2020 UEFA Champions League campaign. The French club that started the campaign as underdogs thrashed Manchester City that was among the favorites to win the European club competition. The 3-1 win over highly-rated City side was not expected as all the odds were in favor of Pep Guardiola led team.
Just like how Lyon stunned Juventus out of the competition at the round-of-16 stage, Pep Guardiola and his men were given another reason why they are still not ready to win the club’s first UEFA Champions League title.
“One day we will break this gap,” Pep Guardiola told BT Sport after the match. “The second half was OK, I had a feeling we were better but you have to be perfect in these competitions.”
Though the manager of the Citizens blamed City’s loss majorly on the errors his players committed in the box eighteen of both end of the pitch, he didn’t fail to mention the purported mistake the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) made in the course of the match.
Moussa Dembele, Lyon’s 2-goals hero of the night seemed to have fouled City’s Aymeric Laporte in the build-up to Lyon’s second goal, but the VAR overlooked the foul and allowed the goal to stand. The goal was Dembele’s first of the two goals he scored in the match.
“I don’t want to talk about the circumstances [of Dembele’s first goal of the night], it looks like I’m complaining or finding excuses”, Guardiola added. “We are out. We did a lot of good things and in the end, it was not enough.
“We made mistakes in both boxes at key moments and that’s why we are out. We scored a magnificent goal but unfortunately, we missed another one. You have to be perfect, you cannot make mistakes.”
The manager who is obviously not happy that his side had to crash out of the competition, told the press after the match that the statistics from the match showed that Manchester City was better than Lyon but they were let down by the errors they committed in the boxes.
He said: “In this competition, we know we can do many things but we have to be serious in the boxes and not concede these goals. The statistics show that we were good, we did more than the other ones in terms of everything but it was not enough.
“We struggled [in] the first 15-20 minutes to find the spaces to attack a little bit better with more consistency. Then after the last 15-20 minutes [of the first half], they [Lyon] started to play really good and a team like we knew – so aggressive, defensive, and strong, like all the French teams.
“And the second half, we were good but was not good enough. The distance sometimes [is] the chances we miss and after we concede a goal. It is what it is. Maybe one day we will break past the quarter-finals, we are not able to do it. I am not able to with these incredible guys. We will try in the future.
“The show must go on and now it’s time for the players to take a break, we are going to get in as many days as possible. Next season will be so strong and demanding, but not the time to think about this… So [we will] try to sleep a little bit and pass 24 hours, 48 hours, and then we start to think about next season.”
Pep Guardiola and Champions League saga
Pep Guardiola is arguably one of the best football managers in the world but it is beginning to look impossible for him to conquer Europe since he left Barcelona in 2012.
While in Barcelona, he won two UEFA Champions League 2008–09, 2010–11, before he decided to pick up another challenge in Germany. He joined Bayern Munich in 2013 with the belief that he would give the German club at least one Champions League title within three years since he could give Barcelona two Champions League titles within the same duration.
Unfortunately for the manager and Bayern, he could not help the Bundesliga side to win the Champions League despite leading them to three successive semi-final rounds of the competition. He left the club when his contract expired with no Champions League title to his name.
Guardiola joined Manchester City in 2016 with the same belief that he would help the club to win a Champions League title for the first time in the club’s history. Unfortunately for both Pep and City, they have failed to come close to the title in three consecutive seasons as the club always crashed out in the quarter-finals.
The Spanish tactician has just a year left on his current contract with Manchester City. If he didn’t extend his contract with the club, after June 30th, 2021, he will walk out of City. Hence, he has just the 2020-2021 season to prove that he can win the UEFA Champions League with another club like Jose Mourinho who won it with Porto in 2003-2004 and with Inter Milan in 2009-2010.