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Chelsea FC now have edge over Man City as Thomas Tuchel tactics turn Champions League Final dress rehearsal

·4-min read
<p>Tuchel has now beaten Guardiola twice in England</p> (Getty Images)

Tuchel has now beaten Guardiola twice in England

(Getty Images)

Thomas Tuchel does it again – and regardless of controversial decisions, under-strength lineups or bungled Panenkas, the German has given Chelsea the psychological edge over Manchester City heading into the Champions League final.

For the second time in the space of less than a month, he has got the better of Pep Guardiola.

In many ways, this win was even more impressive than the FA Cup semi-final triumph last month.

Back then, Guardiola got his tactics all wrong with a much-changed side that were fortunate to avoid a heavier defeat than the 1-0 scoreline.

On this occasion City had the game and the Premier League title in their hands.

A Chelsea meltdown just before half-time saw Raheem Sterling give the champions-elect the lead, while Sergio Aguero stood over a penalty to effectively kill off the contest.

The Argentine’s woeful Panenka handed Chelsea a life-line – but the real turning point was Tuchel’s team-talk at the break.

Getty Images
Getty Images

City went from bossing to being bossed.

Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic were far more effective playing higher up the pitch to force City onto the back foot. The outstanding Reece James had Benjamin Mendy on toast.

What was most impressive was Tuchel’s in-game management after watching his side struggle to break down City’s defence in the first 45 minutes.

He tweaked it and with that, the game was turned on its head.

Ziyech’s low drive from the edge of the box levelled the scores after the Moroccan’s pressing had harried Rodri out of possession.

City insisted Raheem Sterling had been bundled over by substitute Kurt Zouma in the dying moments for a penalty, but referee Anthony Taylor waved appeals away.

There would have been few complaints from Chelsea if he had pointed to the spot – but it was not a clear and obvious error from the official.

City were still remonstrating as Chelsea went in search of a winner.

Marcos Alonso’s lob bounced just the wrong side of the post – but when the defender raced onto a Timo Werner cross deep into stoppage time, he made no mistake.

POOL/AFP via Getty Images
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Chelsea’s bench erupted, while Guardiola and his staff continued to air their grievances with fourth official Jon Moss.

Of course it makes little difference to City’s season.

They will still be crowned champions; the champagne is merely put on ice.

But Guardiola does not like to lose, no matter what the occasion - and certainly not to the same opponent in quick succession.

Back-to-back defeats to Tuchel puts City’s manager on the back foot going into the Champions League final.

Of most concern will be the fact that he appeared to have come up with a solution to the problems that dogged his side in the Wembley semi-final.

Ziyech and Pulisic were denied the opportunity to run in behind and catch them on the counter.

City defended deeper and got more bodies around Chelsea’s fastest runners, but Tuchel’s success so far has been his ability to adapt to different opponents.

Here he did so midway through – and while it certainly was not a one-sided affair in the second half, Chelsea’s dominance of the ball in City’s half was notable.

And so another elite manager falls victim to the Chelsea boss; Guardiola and Zinedine Zidane both bettered in a matter of days.

The FA via Getty Images
The FA via Getty Images

Jose Mourinho, Jurgen Klopp and Diego Simeone – twice – have all failed to handle Tuchel since he took charge at Stamford Bridge.

It is now also two wins against Guardiola – and would bet against it becoming three in Istanbul?

Aguero fails to make an impression

If Aguero was hoping to put himself in the shop window, this really was not the day for it.

His touch with an open net was so heavy that it would have gone down as an all-time horror miss, if not for Sterling racing in to finish.

Then, with a penalty to put the game to bed, he got his Panenka all wrong, with only consolation being that there were no fans in the ground to see it.

Tuchel is certainly a fan of the Argentine and Chelsea are interested in signing him as free agent this summer. But this was not his day.

Wasteful Werner

There reaches a point where it is not bad luck, it is just sloppy play.

Timo Werner saw two goals ruled out for offside to add to the one that was overturned against Real Madrid in midweek.

But the German can hardly bemoan his luck.

Rather it was down to his repeated failure to get himself back into position.

It is infuriating to watch how many time he wanders offside when he should be playing on the shoulders of the defender.

His finishing has let him down this season – but his positional sense is another pressing concern.

Read More

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Raheem Sterling frustrated by Man City penalty decision vs Chelsea FC: ‘I thought VAR was here to help’

Chelsea FC player ratings vs Man City: Reece James dominates the wing; Werner offsides a concern

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