Eymael: Guardiola ‘world-class’ coach but tinkers too much with winning recipe

The Belgian tactician blames the Catalan manager for the Citizens’ failure to beat the Blues in the Champions League final on Saturday night

Luc Eymael has put the blame squarely on Pep Guardiola after Manchester City failed to lift the Champions League trophy on Saturday night.

Instead, Chelsea lifted the European Cup for the second time in their history after beating Man City 1-0 in an all-English final at Estadio do Dragao, thanks to a first-half strike from Kai Havertz.

The Germany international got on the end of a long Mason Mount pass near the end of the first half and rounded Ederson before slotting into an empty net.

According to Eymael, Guardiola was wrong to tinker with his squad for the final, insisting his plans to line up Kevin De Bruyne as a false number nine was a big mistake he will forever regret.

What has been said?

“I am disappointed,” Eymael told Goal from his base Belgium on Sunday.

“Guardiola is the best coach in the world but sometimes in special games, he wants to surprise the opponents with a new thing.

Luc Eymael, Free State Stars

“Like yesterday [Saturday], with De Bruyne in false number nine and Phil [Foden] behind him and they were swapping the roles…putting İlkay [Gundogan] as a holding midfielder, why?

“The previous combination was working very well during months and months, [Fernandinho] holding with Gundogan box to box…then De Bruyne in number 10, Foden or ‘x’ striker, then your wingers Riyad Mahrez or Raheem Sterling.”

Eymael, who has handled a number of teams in Africa including the East African region and South Africa, further blamed Guardiola for taking time to react to his mistakes even when City continued to chase the game because “he wants to prove to everyone that he is right.”

“And when it is like that, he wants to prove to everyone that he is right, to rectify the mistakes, he took too much time really,” Eymael continued.

“Yesterday [Saturday], Mahrez and Sterling were far from their best form, De Bruyne was lost as a false number nine and you know that it is him the maestro in that team.

“Gündogan couldn’t bring his penetrations from the second line when he was playing as number six and the defense had more problems because the holding midfielder Fernandinho who is a rock and really important to stabilise the team entered late, and remember he also lost [De Bruyne] to injury.”

Kevin De Bruyne Man City vs Chelsea Champions League final 2020-21

Eymael added: “When Sergio [Aguero] came in, it was like he was not motivated, I didn’t understand.”

Eymael’s disappointment?

“I am nobody comparing to Pep [Guardiola], I just arrive in a matter of coach at the high of his Achilles tendon but yesterday [Saturday], he disappointed me,” Eymael continued.

“When you see your plan or your strategy to surprise your opponent is not working, there is no shame to react quickly…but him he wanted to prove to everyone he was right, but everyone could observe it was not working already in 30 minutes.

“But anyway, he is the best coach for me in the world but…sometimes, football can kill you, it shows the best one in the world one of the most crowned, can do mistakes.

“But I am nobody comparing to Guardiola.”

The defeat by Chelsea means the Catalan coach’s 10-year-wait for another European success will now go on.

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