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Sports

Guardiola on the brink of exorcising Champions League demons

  • Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel is also a Guardiola disciple, labelling City "the benchmark" for the Blues to aim for.
27 May 2021

LONDON: A decade on from when he last lifted the Champions League trophy, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is once again in the final and is looking to back up his claim to being the greatest coach football has ever seen.

Victory over Chelsea in Porto would take Guardiola level with Zinedine Zidane, Carlo Ancelotti and Bob Paisley as the only men to win three European Cups as coach.

The 50-year-old's record in 12 seasons at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and City speaks for itself. Among his 26 major trophies are nine league titles, three in each of Spain, Germany, England, and nine domestic cups.

At his boyhood club Barca he also conquered the Champions League in two of his first three seasons.

But since masterminding one of the greatest ever performances in a European final to sweep aside Manchester United 3-1 at Wembley in 2011, Europe's top club competition has been the one blot on Guardiola's record.

Newly-crowned European champions Bayern expected a dynasty when the Catalan arrived in Bavaria fresh from a year's sabbatical in 2013. Instead, Guardiola's Bayern suffered semi-final heartache to Spanish opposition in each of his three seasons in charge.

City's determination to create the perfect project to lure him to Manchester by appointing his former colleagues at Barcelona, Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano, to top jobs at the Etihad Stadium has been fully vindicated with three Premier League titles in the past four years.

"They have an incredible squad and the best manager in the world and that makes it a good recipe," said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp after City dethroned his side as English champions.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel is also a Guardiola disciple, labelling City "the benchmark" for the Blues to aim for.

Guardiola has been so revered because he brings a style to go with the substance of hoarding trophies.

"He's had, arguably, the most positive influence of anyone, ever on our game," said former England striker Gary Lineker on how Guardiola has shaped a change of style in English football more reliant on technique than tenacity.