Manchester City winning this season’s Champions League would be well deserved after Pep Guardiola ’s masterclass at Real Madrid .
That is the view of former Premier League midfielder Robbie Savage, who says the Spaniard masterminded one of the most brilliant tactical plans by an English team ever in Europe.
City traveled to the Bernabeu for the first leg of the Champions League last 16 tie against Los Blancos in the midst of their highly publicised European ban.
The club will not be able to compete in European competition for the next two seasons for breaching Financial Fair Play regulations.
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But this did not hinder the team or Guardiola’s thinking, despite what many fans and pundits may have thought when they saw the team sheet.
The former Barcelona boss decided to leave out Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, David Silva, and Fernandinho, and started the game with Gabriel Jesus as a makeshift left-back.
But there was a method to his madness and the current Premier League champions ran out 2-1 wins after late goals from Jesus himself, and Kevin de Bruyne.
And Savage praised Guardiola for the tactical masterclass, insisting that if the game was the catalyst for the team winning the Champions League, then they would deserve it.
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“Pep Guardiola could go on to win the Champions League after one of the bravest selections – and most brilliant tactical masterplans – by an English club in Europe,” Savage wrote in his column for the Mirror .
“And if Manchester City lift the European Cup in Istanbul, Guardiola will deserve it.
“If they are anywhere near their best, I expect City to win the Carabao Cup final against Aston Villa this weekend and for their coach to land his sixth major trophy in three seasons.
“But City's 2-1 win against Real Madrid in midweek was so audacious it took your breath away.
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“When I saw the teamsheet, and there was no Sergio Aguero or Raheem Sterling in City's starting XI, I just thought, “Wow – is this guy for real?”
“By the end of the night, we had our answer: Pep the genius knew what he was doing all along.
“What Guardiola did on Wednesday night in the Spanish capital was not just brave: It was awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping… and it worked.
“When Guardiola came to the Etihad, and missed out on the title by 15 points in his first season, everyone was asking if he could convert his stylish brand of football into a winning culture.
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“I’ll tell you what – his influence has transcended the Premier League and filtered all the way through the leagues, down to the grass roots.
“I believe Guardiola has been a greater influence on English football, in a progressive way, than any coach.
“Only Arsene Wenger, who transplanted a whole new culture – both on and off the pitch – at Arsenal comes close to matching Guardiola's genius as a breath of fresh air.”
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