Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola expertly broke down Chelsea’s tactics in a fascinating clip ahead of the Champions League final.
Guardiola is looking to bag the coveted Champions League for the first time as Man City manager.
His star-studded side face Chelsea in Porto and the Spaniard has praised his opposite number Thomas Tuchel – even breaking down the German’s playing style in a riveting video.
Speaking to BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand, he explained: “Why Chelsea play so good… because they have three central defenders close, the two holding midfielders who move in relation are close, the pockets are close, the striker and the two [others in attack] are so, so close.
“The distances are so close, and at the same time they are so wide with the wing backs, they are so good with the ball in behind.
“That’s why you cannot be close because they push you [out wide] and they have a lot of good players in the middle.
That’s why it’s difficult to face teams who want the ball and want to play with the ball. We’ve tried to do it since day one.”
Asked about Tuchel’s impact at Stamford Bridge, Guardiola replied: “I think it’s massive.
“I saw the first game he had against Wolves, it was a draw but I saw already some routines, some mental processes when I faced them in Mainz and Borussia Dortmund.
“I knew he would do it quick and good here at Chelsea.”
Since taking charge of Chelsea, Tuchel has got the better of Guardiola on two occasions.
His team beat Guardiola’s charges away from home in the Premier League then knocked them out of the FA Cup.
Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy on the brink of Champions League history.
Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, who has had an overwhelmingly positive debut season with the Blues, could write his name into football history in Saturday’s Champions League final against Manchester City.
The Senegal stopper could become the first African goalkeeper to win the European title in the Champions League era, with Zimbabwe’s Bruce Grobbelaar winning the European Cup in 1984 with Liverpool.
The meeting between the two Premier League heavyweights at Porto’s Estadio do Dragao will be the 66th final of the European showpiece tournament.
It’s an anomaly considering the sizeable contribution made by African players, and those of African origin, during the history of the competition.
Indeed, Mendy has eight clean sheets in 11 Champions League fixtures this season to go with his 16 blanks in the Premier League.
African ‘keepers are few and far between in major European finals or even in European leagues, but why?
As far back as 37 years ago, Zimbabwe goalkeeper Grobbelaar became the first African player to feature in a European Cup final, with the Liverpool stopper influential as the Reds defeated AS Roma on penalties in 1984.
He was almost a two-time winner, only for Liverpool to fall short against Juventus in the 1985 final.
Mendy’s Senegal countryman Tony Sylva, understudy to Flavio Roma in the AS Monaco team that were defeated by Jose Mourinho’s FC Porto in the 2005 final, was the next African keeper who came closest to the title.
For Sylva, the presence of role models — pioneering Cameroon goalkeepers Joseph-Antoine Bell and Thomas N’Kono — was a key reason why he believed that a career in Europe as a goalkeeper was possible as a youngster.
He said: “When I look back, it’s impressive, as since the time of Joseph-Antoine Bell and N’Kono, it was very difficult for African goalkeepers to break through.
“Those two succeeded in finding their place in Europe when there weren’t that many there at the time, and we respect them for being there and opening the door for others to come.”
Sylva, Senegal’s No. 1 when they reached the World Cup quarterfinal in 2002, spent 15 years in French football with the likes of Monaco, Ajaccio, and LOSC Lille, and offers a unique perspective on why it took so long for African goalkeepers to begin to make their mark in the European game.
He said: “[European clubs] wanted someone who was experienced to come in and play straightaway, but it was difficult, because being a goalkeeper is a completely different job [to outfield players] and there’s so much more work that goes in behind it.
“You have to be so much better [than local goalkeepers], and the opportunities must come.”