So Pep Guardiola has to eat shit once more. I’ll pause if that sentence makes you giggle (I do know I’m). As soon as once more, armed with in all probability probably the most stacked group in Europe — as he was in Munich, and as he has been in Manchester — and armed with probably the most cohesive group in Europe, and doubtless the very best group in Europe, Manchester Metropolis and Pep won’t be hoisting the European Cup. Pep is 0-for-9 since he left Barcelona, each with Bayern and Metropolis. Normally, his failures have come because of some cock-up he himself produced, both via lineup selections or techniques. And he might get a good quantity of crap for sending out his fees yesterday in a extra cautious and managed style within the Bernabéu, when Metropolis created probabilities at will towards Madrid within the residence leg and will’ve, maybe ought to’ve, been up by 4 or 5 at halftime within the tie.
However to be truthful to Pep, how do you propose for this witch’s brew/wizard’s spell/satan magic? How do you assault one thing with logic and planning the place logic and planning merely don’t apply?
And once more, to be truthful to Pep, it labored! The primary leg was the kind of chaos through which Actual Madrid thrive. Madrid don’t have an incredible group. It’s a debate how “good” they even are. What they’ve is three or 4 good people, and the form of house they have been afforded within the raucous and formless first leg is the precise form of factor that particular person brilliance can flourish in. Out of the ether something can come. Pep sought to take that platform away. He wished to bottle the mist up, cap it, and hold it in a closet.
Which Metropolis did. Madrid didn’t have a shot on track for 89 minutes. Karim Benzema had three touches within the field earlier than second half harm time. Vinícius Jr. was fairly properly shackled by a returning Kyle Walker, one of many few defenders on the planet who can match him for tempo. Luka Modric’s greatest contribution was outracing Kevin de Bruyne over 40 yards to a clearance towards his personal internet within the first half. That’s it.
When you know the way Pep works, you understand he has no time for chaos and inexplicable forces. Every part will be solved. Every part has a solution. You’ll be able to at all times exert extra management. Having one other match the place issues have been open-ended and unpredictable was by no means within the playing cards. An excessive amount of could be as much as probability. A foolish pink card right here, a deflected shot there, an excessive amount of may occur. And for 90 minutes, actually 90 minutes, Pep had it underneath his thumb. They even picked off Madrid on the counter late within the sport to take a commanding two-goal mixture lead. Or what ought to have been commanding.
However in fact, you possibly can’t actually command magic, be it from the sunshine or the darkish, or from the fingers of a genial Italian.
One suspected one thing was up when Walker needed to go off halfway via the second half, the third proper again Vinícius Jr. had damaged over two legs. João Cancelo is quite a lot of issues, however he’s not as quick as Walker. Vinícius could be free. The workings of the satan at all times begin sluggish and refined.
And certain, the left facet of Metropolis’s protection let a Daniel Carvahal cross are available in too simply within the 91st minute, which Benzema tapped again throughout purpose for Rodrygo. And certain, Ederson was too sluggish to react off his line. However they nonetheless wanted one other purpose, and it was nonetheless harm time.
As we all know now, you possibly can by no means take the lid off. Madrid’s tying purpose, you possibly can’t clarify it. Watch it carefully:
Carvahal’s cross is first met by Marco Asensio, and it glances off his brow. There isn’t a manner that Asensio hoped to cross it on to Rodrygo. And there’s no manner that Rodrygo was calibrating his header to calculate for the slight deflection of Asensio. And but the ball hits Asensio on the good angle, to hit Rodrygo on the good angle, to drift over Ederson. You’ll be able to’t plan for any of that. A fraction of a fraction of an inch distinction in angle or spot, a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a second distinction in timing, and the ball sprays wherever however towards the web. There are skilled billiards gamers weeping at this mixture of occasions, questioning the way it could possibly be so. You’ll be able to say it’s blind luck, and possibly it’s, however after every part you’ve seen from Madrid this spring? There’s something ineffable at work right here, as a result of as Spock stated, “In the event you get rid of the unimaginable, no matter stays, nevertheless unbelievable, have to be the reality.”
Even after this collapse or miracle, relying in your view, there was nonetheless loads of time. Madrid had 5 forwards on the sector. For half-hour, Metropolis ought to have run riot via a midfield that Madrid mainly left abandoned. There was no construction to it. However as soon as Madrid drag you into the chaos, drag you thru the Phantom Tollbooth, there isn’t any going again. There was just one consequence. It’s seemingly that Rúben Dias wasn’t even in charge of his limbs when he introduced down Benzema within the field in extra-time. He was merely a puppet, pulled to the place the spirits wished him to be.
There isn’t a clarification. Madrid have been the more severe group in each tie within the knockout rounds of the Champions League. Each PSG and Chelsea battered them for 3 halves of 4. Metropolis did it for even longer. And but their skill to rework right into a devilish fog at all times permits them to flee no matter confines they discover themselves. You’ll be able to’t handcuff air.
Liverpool beware. Jürgen Klopp is extra snug in chaos than Pep, however nobody has mastered and unmastered fairly like this Actual Madrid.