Pep Guardiola’s wretched recent record in the Champions League continued last weekend following Manchester City’s latest continental collapse, the Premier League side eliminated in surprise fashion by Lyon in the quarter-finals.
Man City have failed to progress beyond the last eight in any of Guardiola’s four seasons since moving to English football, whilst the Spaniard has now failed to reach the final of the competition since guiding Barcelona to the second of his Champions League triumphs nine years ago.
Guardiola undoubtedly belongs in the upper echelons of football’s greatest managers following his achievements in the modern era, but City’s latest early elimination is the continuation of a worrying trend since the Catalan coach opted to leave the comforts of the Camp Nou and a certain Lionel Messi.
The era of that iconic Barcelona side – a team which twice won the Champions League during his first three years in coaching – seems an awfully long time ago now, Guardiola struggling to replicate the former glories of a side which revolutionised football, the talents of Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta retaining the ball on a constant carousel of Catalan possession.
After taking a break from the game, Guardiola returned to management at Bayern Munich, the reigning European champions and a club who expect – rather than hope – to perennially challenge for the Champions League.
Despite continuing the Bavarian’s dominance in Germany with three consecutive Bundesliga titles and two domestic doubles, Guardiola fell short in claiming Europe’s biggest prize, his side eliminated in the semi-finals in three successive seasons.
English football and Manchester City were the next destination for one of football’s most respected coaches, and his impact has been unquestionable since moving to the Etihad, winning two league titles and four domestic cups.
Those two Premier League triumphs have come in stunning style, his 2017/18 vintage becoming the first side in the history of the division to reach 100 points, breaking a whole host of long-standing records and playing a brand of football amongst the finest England has seen.
Those performances have rarely been replicated in the latter stages of the Champions League, however, with City suffering ignominious exits in each of his four seasons with the club, his failure in Europe becoming a stick with which to beat a man regarded by many as the best manager in world football.
Critics have pointed to Guardiola’s tendency to overthink the biggest of occasions, his team sheets often raising eyebrows as the Spaniard delves all too deeply into his own backlog of tactical ideas with often disastrous consequences.
Following his latest loss, we’ve decided to look at five of Guardiola’s worst Champions League defeats:
Bayern Munich 0-4 Real Madrid, semi-final second leg (2014)
Guardiola had regularly bested Real Madrid during his time in charge of Barcelona, but a meeting with his old rivals during his debut season at Bayern Munich ended in an embarrassing evening in Munich.
The Spanish giants arrived in Bavaria with a 1-0 lead to protect following the first leg in Madrid, but any hopes of a Bayern fightback were extinguished following a catastrophic collapse at the Allianz Arena.
Sergio Ramos twice headed home inside the opening 20 minutes to leave the hosts with a mountain to climb, the shellshocked Bayern players rocked once more as Cristiano Ronaldo finished off a devastating counter-attack to make it three before half-time.
A chastening night was completed as Ronaldo fired home a low free-kick late on to score a record-extending 16th goal of the Champions League campaign, Real Madrid progressing to a first final in more than a decade as Guardiola’s first European venture with Bayern ended in a home humiliation.
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Monaco 3-1 Manchester City, last-16 second leg (2017)
An extraordinary first leg in Manchester had seen City travel to Monaco in possession of a 5-3 lead ahead of the return fixture, with Guardiola having vowed his side would go on the attack in a bid to finish the job at the Stade Louis II.
Fernandinho was deployed as the anchor of an otherwise attack-minded line-up, and it proved a decision that would backfire spectacularly as Monaco began in blistering fashion to take charge of the tie.
Guardiola had witnessed first-hand the attacking capabilities of a side containing the talents of Bernardo Silva, Thomas Lemar and exhilarating 17-year-old Kylian Mbappe, his tactical approach appearing overwhelmingly naive as the latter opened the scoring after just eight minutes.
Monaco led the tie on away goals after Fabinho scored a second before half-time, only for Leroy Sane to hand City back the initiative with just 19 minutes remaining.
City’s backline had looked fragile over both legs, however, and just minutes later Tiemoue Bakayoko powered home a free header, booking Monaco a last eight meeting with Borussia Dortmund and handing Guardiola his earliest Champions League exit to date.
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Liverpool 3-0 Manchester City, quarter-final first leg (2018)
City’s collapse at Monaco had largely centred around the conceding of goals in clusters over both legs, and their tendency to capitulate in quick-fire fashion happened once more in the following season’s competition at Liverpool.
Guardiola’s side headed to a raucous Anfield sitting comfortably clear of their compatriots in the Premier League, but were blown away following a three-goal burst inside the opening 31 minutes on Merseyside.
Mohamed Salah opened the scoring from close range following some questionable defending from the visitors who failed to clear their lines, before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s thunderbolt made it two just moments later.
Sadio Mane headed home Salah’s cross to make it 3-0 before half-time, Jurgen Klopp’s Reds taking control of the tie before completing their progress with a 2-1 win at the Etihad six days later.
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Tottenham 1-0 Manchester City, quarter-final first leg (2019)
Premier League opposition once again awaited Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the competition last season, with Tottenham standing in the way of Guardiola’s hopes of a first semi-final appearance since moving to the Etihad.
City had won each of their past three meetings with the north London side in domestic competition, including both of their previous two away, but produced an insipid and lacklustre showing to hand Spurs the advantage.
Guardiola’s side were largely devoid of ideas and a miserable evening was compounded by Sergio Aguero’s penalty miss, as Son Heung-Min’s winner saw Spurs head to Manchester with a slender but deserved lead.
City’s lack of impetus proved costly following a pulsating and breathless second leg at the Etihad, the two sides exchanging five goals in the opening 21 minutes in an end-to-end contest.
The clash eventually finished 4-3 to City after some late VAR drama ruled out Raheem Sterling’s stoppage-time winner, Guardiola’s caution in north London proving costly as Spurs progressed on away goals.
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Manchester City 1-3 Lyon, quarter-final (2020)
The most recent entrant to Guardiola’s list of Champions League exits, City were regarded by many as the favourites for the competition this season, only to once again crash out in the last eight.
Once more the Premier League side were beaten by an underdog outfit, losing 3-1 to a Lyon side which slumped to a seventh-placed finish in France’s top tier this season.
Guardiola’s unnecessary experimentation came back to haunt him as he tried to tactically outwit a Lyon team who had troubled City in last season’s group stages, opting for a back three formation as opposed to his regular four-man defence.
The Catalan’s tendency to tweak effective systems has backfired before and he paid the price again during a one-legged quarter-final tie in Lisbon, the Ligue 1 outfit taking the lead through Maxwel Cornet.
Kevin De Bruyne fired home an equaliser to bring City level in the second half, before Moussa Dembele raced clear to put Lyon back in front – the goal standing despite appeals against an offside and foul in the build-up.
Raheem Sterling missed a sitter before a stunned City were dumped out of the competition in unceremonious fashion, Ederson spilling a tame shot into the path of Dembele, who gratefully tapped home his second to book Lyon a place in the last four.
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