The first leg was won by Tottenham, keeping Guardiola winless in away quarter final ties since 2011…
Effectively, Pep Guardiola has had a zero per cent success rate at the quarter final stage of the UEFA Champions League with Manchester City.
Last season, if being drubbed 3-0 at Anfield was not enough in the first leg, Liverpool made it 2-1 in Manchester to send the Cityzens crashing 5-1 out on aggregate.
This time, it is another English opponent in Tottenham Hotspur and the writing on the wall is not looking pretty for Man City. Spurs pipped City 1-0 in London to leave Guardiola all to do in the second leg and ensure a first Champions League semi-final for him and the club since 2015-16.
However, quarter final struggles was not exactly why the Spaniard was brought to the North West of England. When he signed on the dotted line in 2016, the powers that be at City Football Group (CFG) handed him a three-year deal and at the end of it, expected Guardiola to bring the Champions League title to the Etihad Stadium for the very first time.
That three-year period ends this season and despite Guardiola having signed an extension till 2021, the questions still remains: When will Manchester City clinch the Champions League?
Having been backed lucidly in the transfer market with recruitments worth €600 million, Guardiola’s Man City has hardly left any impact on the continental stage. In his first season, AS Monaco beat on away goals rule in the Round of 16 and the following season, they only did a step better.
Here at the same stage in 2019, Guardiola is at risk of repeating the same mistakes yet again. In the first leg last week, Guardiola appeared more concerned as to what Spurs could do rather than mobilising his resources to the fullest. He left out Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane out of the playing XI. Something similar to what he did last year.
With the trident of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah breathing down his neck, Raheem Sterling was left on the bench to accomodate Ilkay Gundogan, to provide more shape in midfield with passes and control.
Both occasions, he did not break much ground. In fact, Guardiola’s last away win in the Champions League quarter finals was way back in 2011 when Barcelona won 1-0 over Shakhtar Donetsk. Even during his time at Bayern Munich, the 48-year-old never managed to take the Bavarians into the final of the Champions League.
2011 was also the last time Guardiola featured in the Champions League final. One look at his record and doubts creep up whether his powers in Europe are on the wane.
It’s been an era since the 2011 Champions League win, where Guardiola arguably had the one of the best teams of this century at Barcelona.
This time at Manchester City, it is high time Guardiola took the Blues into the final of the Champions League. They can start with a win over Spurs on Thursday.
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