Olympique Lyon accomplished the big surprise and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League by beating Manchester City 3-1. After the match, many critical voices are raised against City Coach Pep Guardiola, who for the fourth year in succession failed to reach the Champions League semi-finals.
Just when ManCity was thought to be turning the game around when the score was 1-1 in the second half, Olympique struck: Aouar sent Dembelé on his way, the substitute scored through Ederson’s legs (79).
Now City was challenged again after they fell 0-1 behind in the first half already – and they had the mega chance to equalise again, but Sterling failed to score in the empty goal from four metres (86). In return Olympique decided the match: Ederson literally dropped the ball and let a harmless Aouar scoop drip off, the lurking Dembelé pushed in for a double (87). City threw everything to the front again, but De Bruyne failed once again with a free-kick and Walker missed a header (both 90.+4). The score remained at 3-1, and the surprise was perfect.
“I want to see my team being themselves,” was Guardiola’s central demand before the quarter-finals in Lisbon. But then why didn’t he let it happen? While David Silva, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden sat on the bench, Guardiola had seven defensive players and a three-man-backline against the Ligue 1 seventh.
Instead of relying entirely on his strengths against an outsider like Lyon, Guardiola betrayed his idea of football. And the tragedy for ManCity is that it has happened again. In the quarter-final first-leg matches in 2017/18 (3-0 in Liverpool) and 2018/19 (1-0 in Tottenham), he had already worked out unusually defensive formations and thus established the term “over-thinking” in England’s sporting press.
Once again Guardiola was maybe asking for too much, once again he seemed to be caught up in his thinking, but this time it was worse: not only did he push caution to the limit, he did it against a real underdog. When he finally switched to his usual 4-3-3 in the 56th minute, ManCity became stronger, but the forward game was still not flowing well enough. Lyon had long since sensed that they had a real chance here.
Except for the League Cup win, ManCity has nothing left this year to make up for their international shortcomings, the biggest success being the chance to play in the European Cup next year. It shows that there is more to the story than just another Champions League game that fell victim to a coach’s over-thinking.
Lyon, on the other hand, will now face FC Bayern Munich in the semi-finals in Lisbon on Wednesday (21:00), August 19. The Munich team swept Barcelona off the field on Friday with 8-2.
Our tip for the match is a 4-1 win for the Bavarians. What do you think? Get in on the action and make a prediction!