MThey have become better than others, but Manchester City and Pep Guardiola are still chasing the Champions League title in vain. The grand finale of the tactical gurus on the coaches’ benches ended on Saturday evening with the victory for Thomas Tuchel, who with the 1-0 win became the big lot for Chelsea FC.
He only took over the troubled club at the end of January, and not even the greatest optimists would have dreamed of a triumph in the Champions League. Four months later, after Kai Havertz’s goal (43rd minute), his players were allowed to raise their pot in front of 16,500 English fans in Porto. “I thank my family. I don’t know what to say, ”Havertz said before the award ceremony at DAZN, before the interview was blown up by Chelsea captain César Azpilicueta, who praised and hugged the German.
Guardiola looked quite confused at the break, almost at a loss. Something had gone really wrong. With a very offensive starting XI, the Spanish starting coach had tried to disrupt Chelsea’s play structure from the outset – in vain. It seemed to come true what Tuchel had predicted: “I’m a little smarter than last year.” The German coach lost the final with Paris St. Germain against Bayern.
Werner clears the way for Havertz
This time his team led fully deservedly after 45 minutes, because Tuchel had chosen the right tactic to use Guardiola’s passion for attack. With high positioned full-backs, he had avoided losing the ball in the middle, and Chelsea had often safely overcome the City pressing line with chip balls. Guardiola’s team was repeatedly exposed to straightforward counterattacks.
Timo Werner missed two promising chances, but his German national team colleague Kai Havertz used his opportunity in the 43rd minute when he was allowed to run towards City goalkeeper Ederson alone. Werner didn’t have his feet, but his head in the game – by dodging to the outside he had cleared the path for Havertz in the middle and the space for his first goal in the Champions League for Chelsea.
The biggest chance for Manchester in the first half, however, was not the result of Guardiola’s beloved art of the neat game, but owed a long pass from goalkeeper Ederson, which Sterling should have refined.
Guardiola initially did not change anything in his line-up, and when he did so after an hour, he was forced to do so. Rüdiger resolutely blocked City star Kevin de Bruyne, interrupted a promising counterattack and weakened City significantly. The German national player saw the yellow card, the Belgian had to leave the field badly drawn.
Gabriel Jesus came into play for de Bruyne, which changed the statics. City now acted with a central striker, and a little later Fernandinho was also a defensive midfielder so that Gündogan could move up. Tuchel also reacted – for Werner (66th) came the ball-safe Pulisic.
The pressure from ManCity increased as a result, but the next goal should have fallen on the other side. Havertz had sent the ball on a counterattack and claimed it robustly, and had an eye for Pulisic, but the former Dortmund man slipped the ball past Ederson and past the goal. Tuchel had complained several times in the past few weeks about the lack of opportunities.
Guardiola drew his last joker with Sergio Aguero (77th). But the Argentine was also no longer the trump card in his last game for ManCity. The Chelsea Bulwark held. “I’m walking through a movie,” said Tuchel very emotionally at Sky: “My children are here, my wife, my parents. My grandma is watching at home and is over 90! For all of them this is now. And for our fans. “