'I did what thought was best' - Guardiola defends lineup selection after Champions League final loss to Chelsea

Pep Guardiola Manchester City Champions League final 2020-21Getty Images

Pep Guardiola defended his lineup selection and tactics after Manchester City's 1-0 defeat to Chelsea on Saturday in the Champions League final. He said he did what he thought was right by cramming his team with creative forces.

The manager opted to start proceedings without a defensive midfielder, which many observers felt left his men exposed at the back. Indeed, Kai Havertz slipped beyond the defence before rounding goalkeeper Ederson to score the match's lone goal.

Guardiola went on to highlight the positives from Manchester City not only in the second half of the tightly contested contest, but also in a Premier League-winning campaign.

How did Man City set up for Chelsea?

Guardiola stuffed his starting lineup with creative forces, choosing Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden with Ilkay Gundogan left isolated in the central midfield. Gundogan, of course, is not a defensive midfielder by trade, and the natural orchestrator was unable to help stem the tide of Chelsea's counterattacks when losing possession in the opening 45 minutes.

The Blues could have scored more than once in the first half, as forward Timo Werner on his own had a number of quality chances near the goal.

Manchester City, meanwhile, struggled for long stretches to create chances despite having so many forward-thinking players in the team.

What has been said?

"I did what I thought was the best decision [on his team selection]," Guardiola said to BT Sport.

"[Kevin de Bruyne] got injured but that happens in this competition and in these games. We needed everyone.

"The ambition now is to rest but then prepare for the next season. It was the first time we were at this stage. Hopefully we will be here again in the future.

"It has been an exceptional season for us. It was a tight game. We had chances. We were brilliant in the second half, we were brave and we could not convert the chances as they were so strong. The players were exceptional. We come back maybe one day again!"

'You need inspiration and quality'

Pressed further on his choices, Guardiola said it was important to have "inspiration and quality" against a strong defence.

"There were three or four moments with crosses from the byline but we did not arrive," he said.

"I did my best in the selection. Like last season against Olympique Lyon, like it was against PSG and Dortmund.

"I did the selection best to win the game, the players know it. I think Gundogan played good, was exceptional. We missed a lttle but in the first half to break the lines. In the second half it was much better.

"It was a tight game. We had enormous almost-chances."

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