Real Madrid – Manchester City: Chelsea, MSN, Mbappé… Pep Guardiola, ten years of failure to erase in the Champions League

Santiago-Bernabeu is rather a successful stadium. Since he took on the coaching costume, Josep Guardiola has had almost only good memories there. The 6-2 passed by Barça to Real for his very first Clasico as a coach remains probably the best. In nine trips to the Spanish capital, the Catalan saw his team win six times for two draws and a small defeat. This occurred in the Champions League, with Bayern Munich, beaten by Real by… Carlo Ancelotti (1-0) in 2014. Such a symbolic exception.

The C1 is where the shoe pinches for Pep. For ten years, he has grabbed all the possible national titles, both with Bayern Munich and Manchester City. But this Champions League, which he had won twice (2009, 2011) in his first three appearances as a coach with Barça, systematically refused him over this period. Wednesday at the Bernabeu, it is ten years of bad memories that he will try to erase against Real to give himself a chance to finally regain the cup with big ears.

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2012: The improbable hiccup

  • Semi-final: Chelsea – FC Barcelona (1-0, 2-2)

Everything seemed to be in place for Barça de Guardiola, defending champion, to return to the final despite the defeat conceded in the semi-final first leg against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on a goal by Didier Drogba (1-0). A break ahead thanks to the achievements of Sergio Busquet (35th) and Andres Iniesta and a numerical superiority from the first period after the expulsion of John Terry (37th) for a scenario most favorable to Camp Nou. And everything shattered. Ramires beautifully reduced the gap just before the break (45th), Leo Messi missed a penalty just after (49th), and Fernando Torres crucified the Blaugrana club against in the 90th. An improbable hiccup to start Guardiola’s scarcity.

Fernando Torres and Chelsea, executioners of Barça de Guardiola in 2012

Credit: Getty Images

2014: The Munich Nightmare

  • Semi-final: Real Madrid – Bayern Munich (1-0, 0-4)

There was therefore the first and only defeat to date of Guardiola coach in Madrid, on a goal from Karim Benzema in the first leg (1-0). A score that hinted at enormous pressure from Bayern, defending champion, on the people of Madrid on their return to Munich. But Ancelotti’s Real literally rolled over a Bavarian formation without ideas. The mass was already said after a good half hour with a double from Sergio Ramos (16th, 20th) and a goal against Cristiano Ronaldo (34th), before that of the double for CR7 on a free kick in the 90th. A real nightmare to complete Pep’s first European season at Bayern.

Josep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti, during the 2012 Champions League semi-final first leg between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich

Credit: Getty Images

2015: MSN’s Ugly Trick

  • Semi-final: FC Barcelona – Bayern Munich (3-0, 3-2)

This is the reunion with FC Barcelona for Guardiola. And Barça is playing a very nasty trick on its former coach under the impetus of an MSN at the top of its game. Leo Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar drove the Bavarian defense crazy in the first leg with a double from the Argentinian (10th, 80th) and a goal from the Brazilian (90th). Bayern keep hoping for an incredible feat on the return when Mehdi Benatia quickly opens the scoring (7th), but a double from Neymar on two assists from Suarez (15th, 29th) showers Bavarian dreams before even half an hour Guardiola’s team will still win the match thanks to goals from Robert Lewandowski (59th) and Thomas Müller (74th) in the second half, but their victory will remain anecdotal.

Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola during the Champions League semi-final between Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona on May 12, 2015.

Credit: Eurosport

2016: Griezmann’s fatal counter

  • Semi-final: Atlético de Madrid – Bayern Munich (1-0, 2-1)

It is the opposition of style par excellence between Bayern de Guardiola and Atlético de Simeone. The Cochoneros took the lead after the first leg thanks to an individual feat by Saul Niguez at Vicente-Calderon (1-0). Bayern quickly equalized on aggregate in the return to Munich with a free kick from Xabi Alonso. But Antoine Griezmann comes to crucify Manuel Neuer and the Bavarian club against at the start of the second period (54th). The German club must score twice to qualify, but they will only score one goal through Lewandowski (74th). The adventure at Bayern ends for Guardiola with a third consecutive failure in the semi-finals of the Champions League.

Antoine Griezmann, scorer for Atletico against Bayern

Credit: AFP

2017: The Mbappé slap

  • Round of 16: Manchester City – Monaco (5-3, 3-1)

This is the chef’s surprise. The young Kylian Mbappé, 17, is established by Leonardo Jardim at the expense of Valère Germain to challenge Manchester City now trained by Josep Guardiola at the Etihad. And the legend begins to be written. The future PSG striker scores in a completely crazy first leg match (5-3) which sees Radamel Falcao score twice, but also miss a penalty. ASM reverses the situation and thwarts the predictions on the return with a success initiated by Mbappé (8th). Fabinho (29th) gives the Monegasques a break, Leroy Sané (71st) thinks to save City but Tiémoué Bakayoko (79th) gives the qualification to the Principality club. And a slap to the ambitious Mancunians.

Bernardo Silva, Kylian Mbappé and Thomas Lemar (Monaco) against Manchester City in 2017.

Credit: AFP

2018: Klopp checks Pep

  • Quarter-final: Liverpool – Manchester City (3-0, 1-2)

These are the beginnings of a duel that still vampirizes the Premier League today. And it is already a symbol of the Guardiola paradox. In the league, his team swept Liverpool at the Etihad at the start of the season (5-0). She certainly lost on the return to Anfield after a spectacular match (4-3), but still started as the favorite when the two teams met in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. But in C1, Pep can’t do it. A fiery start to the first leg at Anfield, concretized by Mo Salah (10th), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (21st) and Sadio Mané (31st) put the Reds on the royal road. And City believed in it when Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring from the start on the return (2nd), but Liverpool reversed the situation in the second half thanks to Salah (56th) and Roberto Firmino (77th). Klopp tamed Guardiola.

Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool eliminated Josep Guardiola and Manchester City from the Champions League in 2018

Credit: Getty Images

2019: When the VAR gets involved…

  • Quarter-final: Tottenham – Manchester City (1-0, 4-3)

A bizarre scenario. Not necessarily in the first leg, where Tottenham won in front of City on the smallest of margins with a goal from Heung-Min Son (78th). But on the way back… City leads 3-2 after only 20 big minutes, Sergio Agüero believes to give the Mancunians qualification on the hour mark, but Fernando Llorente (73rd) puts Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs in a position to qualify. City push and the Etihad capsize when Sterling scores in added time. And the VAR, set up in the Champions League since the start of the season, comes into play. After an interminable moment, the goal is disallowed for an offside by Agüero. And City is eliminated.

VAR disallows Sterling’s goal at City-Tottenham

Credit: Getty Images

2020: Lyon and the other 3-5-2 controversy

  • Quarter-final: Manchester City – Lyon (1-3)

The world is living through the Covid crisis and all that implies for the Champions League. A Final 8 on neutral ground in Lisbon, the absence of the public, no return match… This very particular context may have played in favor of Lyon, but that does not detract strictly from the feat of Les Gones, qualified thanks to one goal from the inevitable… Maxwel Cornet (21st) and a double from Moussa Dembélé (79th, 87th). But also thanks to the strange choice of Josep Guardiola. We are still talking about Laurent Blanc’s famous 3-5-2 against… City, but Pep’s against OL was just as strange. In this experimental scheme, we never recognized the DNA of Mancunians. And Guardiola took it for his rank.

Moussa Dembélé scores Lyon’s second goal against Manchester City – OL in the Champions League quarter-finals

Credit: Getty Images

2021: By dint of thinking too much…

  • Final: Manchester City – Chelsea (0-1)

This time, no elimination in the quarter-finals as in the last three editions. Manchester City are playing their first Champions League final after overpowering PSG in the semi-finals. Opposite, a funny customer: Chelsea seems unplayable since Thomas Tuchel sat on his bench during the winter. The Blues have also beaten City twice in the previous weeks, in the Cup (1-0) then in the league (1-2). Guardiola doesn’t really know what to do anymore, so he tries a gamble. An ultra-offensive 3-4-3 without sentry. Losing bet. City loses its collective balance and bows on a goal from Kai Havertz (42nd). Past failures may have been running through the Catalan’s head. And by dint of thinking too much, Pep has gone astray.

Josep Guardiola, beaten with Manchester City against Chelsea in the 2021 Champions League final

Credit: Getty Images

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