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'If they let him, Guardiola would play 11 Iniestas' - Lahm sees Man City boss changing his ways

1:11 am AEST 7/5/21
Pep Guardiola Andres Iniesta
The World Cup winner worked under the Catalan coach at Bayern Munich and believes he now favours "a more cautious style"

Philipp Lahm says Pep Guardiola "would play 11 Iniestas" if allowed to favour that approach, with the Manchester City boss having to adopt "a more cautious style" since leaving Barcelona.

The Catalan coach has just booked a place in another Champions League final, 10 years on from the last time he lifted that trophy, with a date with Chelsea awaiting in a European showpiece.

City will be looking to complete a notable treble in that contest, as they prepare to add the Premier League title to another Carabao Cup success, and Guardiola has continued to tinker with his plans in 2020-21 as he searches for a winning formula at home and abroad.

What has been said?

At Barcelona, Guardiola boasted some of the finest talent world football has ever seen - including the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta - but has changed his ways at Bayern and City, with his current employers regularly starting with no recognised striker.

Lahm, who worked with one of the finest coaching minds to ever grace the game at the Allianz Arena, has told El Pais: "After the high point he reached in Spain, you can see that Guardiola is adapting.

"Barcelona were a very good team, with almost everyone playing several instruments well. When they won the Champions League in 2009 and 2011, they suffocated their opponents.

"That style was possible because the whole club follows Johan Cruyff's idea of total football, [and] Guardiola sees himself in this tradition: if they let him, he would play 11 Iniestas.

"Elsewhere he had to sacrifice a little of his idealism. In Munich [at Bayern] he let the specialists [Franck] Ribery and [Arjen] Robben play on the flanks, and the two full-backs drifted into the centre when the team had possession of the ball."

Lahm added: "City now play a more cautious style, relying on athletic defenders who impose themselves in the air.

"The team sometimes give the ball away, drop back, defend their area, take a breather and wait to counter-attack. The coach has learned to enjoy simple goals from a corner or a shot from outside the box: he has seen that those goals have their appeal too. He's not just a fan of the ultra-attacking tiki-taka."

The bigger picture

Guardiola's methods have made him a success in Spain, Germany and England.

Domestic titles and cups have rolled in on a regular basis, but continental success has proved elusive over the course of the last decade.

City are now in a position to right that wrong, with Paris Saint-Germain seen off in the Champions League semi-finals.

The Sky Blues have made that prize a top priority ever since Sheikh Mansour arrived in Manchester back in 2008.

Guardiola is now within touching distance of that ultimate prize, with the best being brought out of a star-studded squad that can be moulded to fit many different systems and still deliver positive results.

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