Bayern Munich star Thomas Muller told Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola what he thinks is the weakness of his team.
City lost 3-1 to Lyon in the last eight of the UEFA Champions League and the whole world was shocked. Guardiola is known for tinkering with his team, however, all his efforts proved useless as his team was unable to pull away early in the game, the had lots of chances but they missed a lot of goal scoring opportunities.
Guardiola’s tinkering tactic was seen as a problem in Germany while he was Bayern’s manager, and he seems to be having the same issue with Manchester city during the past season (2020 premier league season). He is a great coach, but Muller thinks that Guardiola is missing something.
Speaking in February ahead of City’s first leg of their Champions League last 16 against Real Madrid, Muller, who lauded his former boss pinpointed one area where he felt the Spaniard sometimes make mistakes.
“He’s always a little torn between paying extreme attention and respect to the strengths of the opposition – more so than against smaller teams – and sticking to his convictions and to a system he believes in,” said Muller.
In his response, Guardiola didn’t take the comment as a criticism but info.
“When an ex-player makes the statement, it’s not a criticism, it’s info,” said Pep Guardiola, back in February.
Man City later went ahead to defeat Madrid with Guardiola taking the mild criticism in a positive manner.
“I have an obligation to know as much as possible about my opponent, and I have not played Madrid for five years.
“Thomas and the others cannot say I didn’t prepare to win games at Barca, Munich, and City. I never watch a game and don’t want to win it.
“As a player, I thought that if I know more about the opponent, it made me confident to know what I have to face.
“If the players felt that – if Thomas felt that – it’s good info. Maybe it’s a mistake but I try to make them confident and go out to try to win the game,” he added.
Was Pep Guardiola too extreme about his findings on Lyon?
Since City is already out of the competition after losing 3-1 to Lyon, what could be said to be responsible for the loss? Could it be that Guardiola failed to go extreme about the pace of Lyon’s players on the counter-attack?
City won 2-1 in the Bernabeu after Guardiola seemed to have played to his team’s strengths rather than setting them up to worry about the opposition.
Although the tinkering in the team, which is normal for a manager was not really detailed, Gabriel Jesus was played on the left. This was a defensive job on attacking right-back, Dani Carvajal.
Closing down Real Madrid right-back seemed to have cut short the hosts’ supplies in the final third and it worked.
This showed that City maintained its set-up, which is attacking football and they seemed to be comfortable with the formation. Their high pressing game as seen against Madrid in the return leg made Raphael Varane committed unusual errors. This seemed to have reinforced his notion that big teams play to their strengths.
However, City switched to a three-man defense against Lyon in the Champions League quarter-final at the Jose Alvalade Stadium. Unfortunately, they were undone by a meticulous side that had finished the curtailed French season in seventh place in the league.
Lyon didn’t do most of the work in the midfield, knowing fully well they can’t win the duel against City’s five-men, they outsmarted their backline with long balls and their pace.
This never seemed sensible with the 3-5-2 formation Guardiola adopted. Although City had the possession on the card that seen Raheem Sterling missing a sitter and they failed to progress. They did as usual by imposing themselves on the opposition but failed to react to their strengths.
Man City quickly corrected their errors by abandoning the 3-5-2 formation and bossed the game, leading to Kevin De Bryune’s equalizer, but they were undone by those late mistakes.
Lyon had won at the Etihad and held City at home in two group games last season in the same competition. So, Guardiola is no stranger to the team.
But they will be blaming themselves for the individual defensive errors and lack of conviction in front of goal at key moments.
Although Guardiola is known to be a deep thinker concerning tactics, many had suggested knowing how to stop his opponent would have been the best at time than wanting to impose himself on them on most occasions.