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Guardiola Defends His Leaky Back-Four After Watching His ‘Perfect Plan’ Blow Up In His Face In Monaco Defeat

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Pep Guardiola’s best plan backfired as Manchester City crashed out of the Champions League on Wednesday.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola suffered his earliest Champions League on Wednesday as they suffered a 3-1 away defeat against AS Monaco in the last-16 second-leg clash in the Champions League.

The former Barcelona boss saw his tactical approach blow up in his face as he failed to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in an otherwise illustrious nine-year managerial career.

Owning a 5-3 advantage in hand, Manchester City did not play conservatively and they looked clueless at the back in an attack-oriented matchup against Monaco, who had tallied 123 goals coming into the match.

The Premier League club looked all over the place and failed to match Monaco’s pace. The City back-line delivered yet another lack-lustre performance as they conceded three goals on Monday and despite having a 5-3 advantage over the first-leg, Guardiola’s side failed to defend their lead.

They also lacked the much needed intent while pushing up front and their front-line gave up easy chances.

Ahead of the second-leg clash, Guradiola had said: “Our plan is perfect but we will see. If you do not score away, you have little chance to go through.

“I want to see my team play their game and to score goals.”

When BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand was asked if Pep had got his tactics wrong, the former Man Utd man said: “You have to say yes because they got put to the sword in the first half.”

“They had to make sure they saw that out.”

“They have players with huge experience in the team and they did not manage to get the job done today. He wanted to play an attacking blend of football but today they fell by that.”

Monaco’s top scorer Radamel Falcao, who scored twice in the Etihad Stadium three weeks ago, was sidelined due to a hip injury. However, a younger Monaco squad still managed to put serious pressure on Man City’s defense right from the kick-off as Kylian Mbappe clinched the opener just eight minutes into the game, to clinch his 11th goal in as many appearances from close range after Bernardo Silva crossed the ball from the left wing.

The hosts repeated their attacking approach in the 29th minute, as Brazilian midfielder Fabinho put left back Benjamin Mendy’s stitching cross into the net.

Man City, who had no shot attempt in the first half, were on the brink of elimination with no away goal after Fabinho successfully brought it to an aggregate of 5-5, compared to their Monaco counterparts’ tally of three.

After their striker Sergio Aguero missed two good chances, Man City once saw the light at the end of the tunnel with Leroy Sane’s 71st-minute goal, but this was denied just six minutes later, as Tiemoue Bakayoko headed Thomas Lemar’s free kick into the net.

The two sides tied at 6-6 on aggregate, but Monaco made it into the last eight on away goals, the second time this has happened in the past three seasons.

Man City now is the only team in the Champions League history to crash out of a knockout clash after scoring five goals in the first-leg.

Guardiola said: “We played an exceptional second half but the first one we forget to be there.”

However, the former Barcelona man refused to lay the blame on his leaky defence.

He added: “It’s not about defence, you always complain about keepers and defence.”

“The problem was that in the first half we were not there, our strength when we have the ball is to be aggressive, but we didn’t.”


Anirban Das
Anirban Das's journey to Delhi via Kolkata involves football, music, curiosity (which one day can kill the cat) and food. Following global football opens up an infinite space within him in both the conscious and subconscious self, away from the din and bustle of the madding crowd. Supports Manchester United & Barcelona

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