Before now, Thomas Tuchel has led Chelsea to beat Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City three successive times to become the second coach to ever do so.
The first coach to do so was Jurgen Klopp of Liverpool. Funny enough, when Pep Guardiola was the coach of Bayern Munich between 2013 and 2016, the Spanish coach was the king over Klopp and Tuchel.
Then, Jurgen Klopp was the manager of Borussia Dortmund and Tuchel was the football manager of Mainz, the first club he coached as an up-and-coming professional German tactician.
During that era, Pep Guardiola often get the better of him and his countryman, Jurgen Klopp, until the former Dortmund coach joined Liverpool in 2015 and Tuchel took over from him at Dortmund.
Before Guardiola left the German Bundesliga in 2016 to become the football manager of Manchester City, he recorded four wins over Tuchel, leaving the Germain coach with no victory over him.
But when Tuchel arrived in the Premier League to coach Chelsea in 2020 after two successful seasons at Paris Saint Germain, he inflicted three successive defeats on Guardiola within 6 weeks. The biggest of them all was the UEFA Champions League final defeat.
During the Champions League game, Guardiola who was accused of “overthinking” ahead of the game decided to use a false 9 despite having natural strikers like Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero on the bench. Tuchel ensured Guardiola paid heavily for it.
Hence, the Sunday meeting is seen as an opportunity for Guardiola to show that he still has something Tuchel is yet to know about his tactics.
Unfortunately for the Spanish coach, he would be going into the premier league game at Stamford Bridge which will kick off at 12:30 on Sunday without a couple of his first-team players.
For instance, Kevin De Bruyne is not fully shaped for the season due to fitness issues. The coach used him for the first time this season against Wycombe in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday.
Guardiola said the Belgian attacking midfielder needed pre-season. However, he might be thrown into the league game against Chelsea on Sunday.
Aside from him, two of the club’s most important center-backs John Stones and Aymeric Laporte are battling fitness issues which could be a big headache for Guardiola.
As for Chelsea, Tuchel has little or no major injury worry. Chelsea would try to either win or draw with City on Sunday to continue with their run of not losing a game this season.
Thomas Tuchel and Pep Guardiola: two tactical wizards
The interesting thing about the Sunday encounter between Thomas Tuchel and Pep Guardiola is that the two coaches have proven to be tactical wizards.
They are among the very few coaches that you can not easily predict what they could come up with. They also have the ingenuity of changing game plans and tactics based on spontaneous realities during a live game.
For instance, during the Premier League game between Chelsea and Tottenham last weekend, Tuchel used three forwards and three midfielders. Tottenham dominated the first half which prompted the German coach to change formation to two forwards and four midfielders in the second half.
In doing so, Tuchel introduced Ngolo Kante for Mason Mount which completely changed the game and earned Chelsea three goals within 45 minutes. The game ended 3-0 in favor of Chelsea.
Guardiola is also in that mode. He is one of the tacticians that is bold enough to bench a natural striker and use a false nine and still record a lot of goals.
Hence, as the spectators enjoy the skills on the pitch, most pundits will pay attention to the chess game between Thomas Tuchel and Pep Guardiola on Sunday.