Former City Striker Questions Pep Guardiola’s Tactics Following Tie With Real Madrid

Former City Striker Questions Pep Guardiola’s Tactics Following Tie With Real Madrid
Manchester City head coach Josep Guardiola during the La Liga match between Real Madrid and Manchester City played at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on May 9, 2023 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Sergio Ruiz / Pressinphoto / Icon Sport) - Photo by Icon sport

Pep Guardiola’s tactics have been criticized following Manchester City’s frenetic Champions League match against Real Madrid, which ended 1-1 at the Santiago Bernebeau.

City’s confident start was undone by Vinicius Jnr’s incredible 25-yard strike in the 36th minute and from then on the game was much more of a contest.

Midway through the second half, however, Kevin de Bruyne’s equally magnificent long-range effort leveled the score, leaving Wednesday’s second leg match at The Etihad flawlessly poised.

Guardiola’s Substitute Strategy Questioned By Aguero

Despite the intensity and tempo of the match, Guardiola did not make any substitutions during the entire 90 minutes. And this is despite the fact that reserve players such as Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez were sitting on the bench.

Sergio Aguero, Guardiola’s former City striker, criticized Guardiola for failing to bring on another forward against Real Madrid.

The former City and Barcelona goal scorer questioned Guardiola’ decision not to bring on  World Cup champion Julian Alvarez despite the Argentine star’s growing prominence in recent league games for City.


Europe’s top prize was a trophy that eluded Aguero during his otherwise legendary 10-year tenure with Manchester City. However, the striker’s last appearance for City was two years ago in a 1-0 final loss to Chelsea and he is in a unique position to offer insight into Guardiola’s management.

Speaking on the Albiceleste Talk podcast after the Champions League tie, he argued that leaving his compatriot Alvarez on the sidelines was a missed opportunity by City.

“What I don’t understand is why he didn’t put (on) Julian,” he said. “I wonder, but well it’s Pep.”

“If it was up to me I would play Julian in almost every game because we need him to be an active and for him to have a spark,” he said.

Alvarez Could Yet Get Chance To Showcase Ability

Alvarez has scored 15 goals for City in all competitions this season, despite being limited to a supporting role owing to Erling Haaland’s form as the first-team striker.

The forward’s game-winning goal against Fulham last month could yet be decisive in the Premier League title battle as Guardiola’s squad chases an unprecedented treble of major trophies.

Guardiola will almost certainly rotate his starting lineup for Sunday’s away trip to Everton in the league, as it comes just three days before his team hosts Real Madrid in the second leg.

While the Spaniard’s strategy of not using substitutes was not mentioned in his post-match analysis, the manager claimed that he was optimistic about the possibility of qualifying for the UCL final in the second leg at home.

“We were better when they scored, they were better when we scored,” Guardiola told BT Sport after the match.

“It was a tight game,” he said, “Real Madrid in the semi-final is always a tough one.”

“We turned up, we had good moments, it’s difficult with the quality they have on and off the ball. 1-1, final next Wednesday with our people.”

City travel to Goodison Park this Sunday to take on Everton at 14:00 GMT before they face the second-leg against Real Madrid at the Etihad on Wednesday at 21:00 GMT.


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