Sports

Manchester City vs Real Madrid, Pep Guardiola curse


They say money can’t buy you happiness and if you’re Manchester City, it can’t buy you the Champions League either.

According to Deloitte, City are the world’s richest football club in 2022 after generating revenue of $1.12 billion.

But while they remain on track to defend their Premier League title – it would be their sixth – they are yet to lift the even more coveted crown jewel of the Champions League.

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Benzema’s cool penalty puts Madrid in front

City were upset 1-0 by Chelsea in last year’s final and it looked like being another all-England decider against Liverpool until Real Madrid’s miraculous comeback at the Bernabeu on Thursday.

City manager Pep Guardiola has reportedly spent $2.3 billion on players since his arrival in Manchester in 2016.

Widely regarded as one of football’s modern masters as a tactician, Guardiola won two Champions Leagues with Barcelona but can’t deliver City’s mega-rich owners the breakthrough trophy they so desperately crave.

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Guardiola teams have now been eliminated from the Champions League six times at the semifinal stage, an unwanted record he shares with Jose Mourinho.

Even Russian club Spartak Moscow had a dig on Twitter.

“We were close but we were in trouble when they put balls into the box, with so many crosses,” Guardiola said.

“I had defeats in the Champions League, at Barcelona and we could not reach the final, but there’s no doubt it’s hard for us.

“We can’t deny we were so close to the Champions League final. We didn’t play well in the first half but it’s normal in this competition.”

Rodrygo’s incredible quickfire brace

Former Socceroos captain Craig Foster said Guardiola made the correct substitutions against Madrid and there appeared little more he could do from a tactical perspective.

“It’s true to say in those last few minutes, they should have been better concentrated, that’s true,” Foster said on Stan Sport.

“But the margins are incredibly small. That cross that comes in that gets it to extra time, that hits someone’s head and goes on to Rodrygo’s head and Rodrygo doesn’t even realise and it hits his head perfectly.

Tempers flare after dodgy tackle

“For Manchester City now it starts to become a bit of a complex.”

Former Manchester United goalkeeper Mark Bosnich said pressure would now build on City to sign Borussia Dortmund’s star striker Erling Haaland.

“But he’s (Guardiola) got to fix that mentality. I really do think that that is an issue,” Bosnich said.

Mahrez’s left foot does it again

City are just one point ahead of Liverpool in the Premier League title race and must dust themselves off quickly for Monday’s (AEST) clash with Newcastle United.

Guardiola paid tribute to Madrid’s fortitude in analysing where it went wrong.

“It has happened many times in their history,” Guardiola said.

“They put a lot of players in the box, all of them crosses, and they scored two goals. We didn’t suffer much until they scored, but we didn’t play our best.

Spanish football expert Semra Hunter joins the team to discuss Real Madrid winning a 35th La Liga title, Carlo Ancelotti becoming the first coach to win a league title in each of the big five leagues and the Champions League semifinal second legs

“After the goal we controlled the game, Jack (Grealish) helped us control it. We could not finish when we were close.

“We need time now. We have to do it with our people. The players gave everything. We were so close. We couldn’t do it. In the history of football this happens. With the people supporting them it’s more difficult.

“This will have a positive impact on the Real players. On us? I don’t know. They won, that’s it. We weren’t suffering all that much I don’t think.”

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