The technician must solve the doubts of a team that generates as much as it fits and that is already shipwrecked in the last three Champions.

Guardiola, during Tuesday's City training.

Realpolitik. In this pun, between football and diplomacy, the blunt headline of L'Equipe that April 24, 2014. An image of Karim Benzema illustrated the guide of the French newspaper 1-0 of Real Madrid's Carlo Ancelotti against Bayern of Pep Guardiola. The practicality and cunning of the whites had been imposed on the lyricism of the Germans. So the Spanish technician, eaten away by defeat, left some memorable phrases. In the first part they did not have the ball, they did not give three passes in a row, Guardiola said, that among all the virtues of his adversary, only one stood out: They are athletes and if you let them run, you run a risk, reve. Just six days later, Sergio Ramos Y Cristiano Ronaldo rounded an exceptional 0-4 in Mnich. A month later, in Lisbon, Madrid began its most tyrannical cycle in the Champions League, while Guardiola linked six years without a single final.

Yesterday, the memory of that 1-0 seemed to have evaporated in the mind of the Manchester City coach. I don't remember much, although it was a pretty close game. We made the goal with a play on the left and the shot of Benzema, Pep remembered during his very awaited speech at the Bernabu. That distant resentment has now become an almost religious fervor for Madrid.

Tomorrow's game is a real test. The kings of the Champions League against a team that is not accustomed to facing this type of commitments, he stressed, without forgetting that his City has only played a semifinal of this tournament in its history. It was in 2016, with Manuel Pellegrini at the controls. And then it was also set apart in Chamartn.

From 4-3-3 to 3-5-2

In fact, City an cannot boast a single win in its five previous duels against whites. A balance almost opposite to Guardiola, which accumulates nine wins and four draws in 17 precedents. It is always a pleasure and an honor to return to this field. It is one of the largest in the world and I want to enjoy it, proclaimed yesterday. And what he did days ago had already given up the traditional last session on the same lawn that seemed so exciting to him. This apparent contradiction is only one more chapter in the most recent history of Guardiola in England, where his team, 22 points behind the lead, sails aimlessly.

In fact, this Champions seems the last handhold for the City. An opportunity with which to save a course full of ups and downs, where Guardiola has wanted to adapt to the circumstances, although almost never finding the key. The evolution of its classic 4-3-3 towards the most recent 4-4-2 or even 3-5-2, with three centrals, has not given its football the necessary flight.

The deepest sector of your football continues to focus on the right, especially when Kevin de Bruyne manages to connect with Bernardo Silva. No one has settled better than the prodigious Belgian, whom Casemiro he must watch with zeal, both in the actions where he slows down the pace and in those he attacks in the diagonals to the baseline. De Bruyne is the best assistant of the Premier (16, only four less than the historical record of Thierry henry) and who has scored the most chances (96).

Emptying the nurse

At this point he seems consolidated as the best attacking midfielder in the Champions League. It has a special vision. See passes and plays that normal players can't see, Guardiola tends to say, also pleased with the good news from their doctors regarding Raheem Sterling. Be ready to play, revealed yesterday about the English end.

However, the great news in the City nurse in recent weeks has been the recovery of Aymeric Laporte, the left-handed center capable of making sense of the exit of the ball. The former Athletic, complement of the always loyal Fernandinho, provides balance to a defense where Benjamin Mendy It seems like the weakest flank. The instability back, with many granted occasions, prevented this team from competing in the decisive instances of the Champions League. Now, under the weight of that UEFA sanction for the next two seasons, there is no room for more mistakes.

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