Capello calls on Pep to 'think of something different' after another Champions League defeat

By Sports Desk May 05, 2022

Pep Guardiola did none of the "strange things" that have been the source of criticism in recent Champions League seasons but still could not deliver the title for Manchester City.

Guardiola, one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game, has made surprise choices in previous big European matches, notably starting last season's final defeat against Chelsea without a holding midfielder.

There were no such risks in Wednesday's semi-final second leg against Real Madrid, with Rodri at the base of the midfield and City able to call on their best defence with Kyle Walker hurried back from injury.

Yet their latest remarkable collapse came after leading 5-3 on aggregate with less than a minute of normal time remaining.

Rodrygo Goes scored twice in 91 seconds, before Karim Benzema's extra-time penalty sealed Madrid's progress, winning 3-1 on the night and 6-5 across the two legs.

City forced Thibaut Courtois into eight saves – tied for the third-most in a Champions League semi-final match – and had a further Jack Grealish effort cleared off the line, but Madrid still carried the greater threat in the final third.

Their 14 attempts were worth a combined 2.6 expected goals versus 1.6 xG for City's 15 shots.

Although striker Gabriel Jesus started, he has often been used out wide this season and the contrast with Benzema was clear – certainly to Fabio Capello.

The former Madrid coach feels Guardiola has to shift his approach and opt for a more natural centre-forward. Erling Haaland, widely linked to City, would appear to fit the bill.

"He was faced with a team that never gives up," Capello told Sky Sport. "But even Guardiola has to think of something different; you can't always play without a striker of weight.

"Ancelotti had said that he thought of playing well defensively; he did it, but he was also dangerous in attack. Vinicius was the worst on the pitch, missing two goals.

"I wouldn't talk about mea culpa from Guardiola; I can't tell him anything, he didn't do strange things."

On the other hand, former Madrid midfielder Wesley Sneijder suggested there was a lack of desire from City, rather than any tactical issue.

"I have not seen a City that really wants to go to the final," he told RTL 7.

"That Kevin De Bruyne was substituted says enough, doesn't it? Perhaps only the substitute, [Ilkay] Gundogan, could play the ball to the right shirt.

"For the rest, I have not seen anyone who really wants to go to the final. That includes [Riyad] Mahrez, because his goal was the only ball he hit well. They were just too anxious."

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