Pep Guardiola and Manchester City fall to Madrid, exit Champions League

Pep Guardiola stares into the abyss.

Pep Guardiola stares into the abyss.
Photo: Getty Images

So Pep Guardiola has to eat shit once more. I’ll pause if that sentence makes you giggle (I do know I’m). Once once more, armed with in all probability probably the most stacked workforce in Europe — as he was in Munich, and as he has been in Manchester — and armed with probably the most cohesive workforce in Europe, and possibly the very best workforce in Europe, Manchester City and Pep won’t be hoisting the European Cup. Pep is 0-for-9 since he left Barcelona, each with Bayern and City. Usually, his failures have come because of some cock-up he himself produced, both via lineup decisions or ways. And he could get a good quantity of crap for sending out his expenses yesterday in a extra cautious and managed trend within the Bernabéu, when City created possibilities at will in opposition to Madrid within the residence leg and will’ve, maybe ought to’ve, been up by 4 or 5 at halftime within the tie.

But to be honest to Pep, how do you propose for this witch’s brew/wizard’s spell/satan magic? How do you assault one thing with logic and planning the place logic and planning merely don’t apply?

And once more, to be honest to Pep, it labored! The first leg was the kind of chaos wherein Real Madrid thrive. Madrid don’t have an awesome workforce. It’s a debate how “good” they even are. What they’ve is three or 4 good people, and the form of house they had been afforded within the raucous and formless first leg is the precise form of factor that particular person brilliance can flourish in. Out of the ether something can come. Pep sought to take that platform away. He wished to bottle the mist up, cap it, and hold it in a closet.

Which City did. Madrid didn’t have a shot on the right track for 89 minutes. Karim Benzema had three touches within the field earlier than second half harm time. Vinícius Jr. was fairly properly shackled by a returning Kyle Walker, one of many few defenders on the earth who can match him for tempo. Luka Modric’s largest contribution was outracing Kevin de Bruyne over 40 yards to a clearance towards his personal internet within the first half. That’s it.

When you understand how Pep works, you realize he has no time for chaos and inexplicable forces. Everything may be solved. Everything has a solution. You can all the time exert extra management. Having one other match the place issues had been open-ended and unpredictable was by no means within the playing cards. Too a lot can be as much as probability. A foolish pink card right here, a deflected shot there, an excessive amount of may occur. And for 90 minutes, actually 90 minutes, Pep had it underneath his thumb. They even picked off Madrid on the counter late within the sport to take a commanding two-goal mixture lead. Or what ought to have been commanding.

But in fact, you may’t actually command magic, be it from the sunshine or the darkish, or from the arms of a genial Italian.

One suspected one thing was up when Walker needed to go off halfway via the second half, the third proper again Vinícius Jr. had damaged over two legs. João Cancelo is loads of issues, however he’s not as quick as Walker. Vinícius can be free. The workings of the satan all the time begin gradual and delicate.

And certain, the left facet of City’s protection let a Daniel Carvahal cross are available too simply within the 91st minute, which Benzema tapped again throughout purpose for Rodrygo. And certain, Ederson was too gradual to react off his line. But they nonetheless wanted one other purpose, and it was nonetheless harm time.

As we all know now, you may by no means take the lid off. Madrid’s tying purpose, you may’t clarify it. Watch it intently:

Carvahal’s cross is first met by Marco Asensio, and it glances off his brow. There isn’t any means that Asensio hoped to move it on to Rodrygo. And there’s no means that Rodrygo was calibrating his header to calculate for the slight deflection of Asensio. And but the ball hits Asensio on the excellent angle, to hit Rodrygo on the excellent angle, to drift over Ederson. You can’t plan for any of that. A fraction of a fraction of an inch distinction in angle or spot, a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a second distinction in timing, and the ball sprays wherever however towards the web. There are skilled billiards gamers weeping at this mixture of occasions, questioning the way it might be so. You can say it’s blind luck, and perhaps it’s, however after all the pieces you’ve seen from Madrid this spring? There is one thing ineffable at work right here, as a result of as Spock stated, “If you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

Even after this collapse or miracle, relying in your view, there was nonetheless loads of time. Madrid had 5 forwards on the sector. For half-hour, City ought to have run riot via a midfield that Madrid principally left abandoned. There was no construction to it. But as soon as Madrid drag you into the chaos, drag you thru the Phantom Tollbooth, there is no such thing as a going again. There was just one end result. It’s doubtless that Rúben Dias wasn’t even accountable for his limbs when he introduced down Benzema within the field in extra-time. He was merely a puppet, pulled to the place the spirits wished him to be.

There isn’t any clarification. Madrid have been the more severe workforce in each tie within the knockout rounds of the Champions League. Both PSG and Chelsea battered them for 3 halves of 4. City did it for even longer. And but their means to remodel right into a devilish fog all the time permits them to flee no matter confines they discover themselves. You can’t handcuff air.

Liverpool beware. Jürgen Klopp is extra comfy in chaos than Pep, however nobody has mastered and unmastered fairly like this Real Madrid.

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