Outbreaks of chaos expose fatal flaw that keeps denying Guardiola European glory | Jonathan Wilson

As four pre-final defeats highlight, City’s mechanism is so complex that when it misfires it cannot easily be put right

At what point does just one of those things become more than just one of those things? If Manchester City’s defeat to Real Madrid on Wednesday night were a one-off, it could be written off. What can you do about luck like that? If you have nine shots on target to the opposition’s none in the first 90 minutes and still lose 2-1 what, really, have you done wrong? Especially when you’ve dominated the first leg as City had done.

But this keeps happening. Season after season, Pep Guardiola finds his teams dominating Champions League ties and losing. Bad luck follows him: the Icelandic volcano that forced Barcelona to take the bus to Milan in 2010, Fernando Llorente’s handled goal in 2019, Raheem Sterling missing an open net from six yards in 2020 …

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Guardiola: maybe I’m not good enough to bring City Champions League glory

  • Spaniard says club will keep pushing for European success
  • ‘We are going to try again next season, and then again’

Pep Guardiola has said “maybe I’m not good enough” to lead Manchester City to Champions League glory but the manager is clear the team will keep trying to triumph in the competition.

City were knocked out in the semi-finals by Real Madrid on Wednesday, 6-5 on aggregate, having led 5-3 overall and 1-0 on the night with seconds remaining at the Bernabéu before added time. Guardiola was proud of his side despite the shock of the defeat but questioned himself after a sixth disappointment in the competition in his six years in charge.

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Jürgen Klopp backs Liverpool fan group over Champions League final tickets

  • Spirit of Shankly angry over prices and size of allocation
  • Tickets on resale site have asking price as high as £15,499

Jürgen Klopp has backed the Liverpool supporters’ union Spirit of Shankly after it accused Uefa of hypocrisy for condemning the greed of Super League clubs while increasing its ticket revenue by 38% over the past four years. The manager said he agreed “100,000%” and claimed: “Uefa are not the saints of football, they never were.”

Liverpool and Real Madrid have been allocated 19,618 tickets each for the final in Paris, priced at £50.32, £125.79, £410.91 and £578.63. The two cheapest category tickets – amounting to about 15,500 seats per club – were discounted at the request of the semi-finalists, after Uefa had proposed offering 5,000 free tickets to each finalist. There is no reduction for over-65s, young adults (17-21) or juniors.

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Mohamed Salah’s revenge talk offers insight into Liverpool’s final mindset

Forward has been open on his feelings about meeting Real Madrid and up to seven other 2018 starters could play in Paris

Managers usually dislike revenge talk, at least in public, and Jürgen Klopp was no exception the last time Liverpool prepared to meet Real Madrid in the Champions League. “We are not on a revenge tour here,” he said before last season’s quarter-final. “Sometimes it [a reunion] is close enough, like a week or two later, and then you can have these kind of emotions in you.” Or four years later, as is the case with Mohamed Salah.

Salah has been surprisingly open this week on his feelings towards Liverpool’s third Champions League final appearance in five seasons.

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Systemic flaws of Guardiola’s City keep Champions League out of reach | Barney Ronay

Lack of a pure centre-forward hurt them against Real Madrid and manager’s challenge now is to lift his players for league defence

Hello darkness my old friend. As Pep Guardiola walked on to the pitch at the final whistle in the Bernabéu, a familiarly skinny-legged figure, that gleaming bald pate looking terribly tender under the hard white lights, still dressed head to toe in tailored black like a celebrity magician, or a university lecturer on his way to a funeral, it was hard not to feel the pathos of the moment.

Guardiola shook hands, patted his players and said something to the referee. He lingered near the centre circle, facing down the waves of triumphalism from the seats, in an arena where this really is personal, where Guardiola stands as a gargoyle of deep tribal rivalries.

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Mohamed Salah admits Liverpool have ‘score to settle’ against Real Madrid

  • Liverpool forward relishing Champions League final rematch
  • Salah went off in 2018 final after being injured by Sergio Ramos

Mohamed Salah has said Liverpool have a “score to settle” with Real Madrid after the Spanish side set up a repeat of their 2018 Champions League final by securing a comeback win against Manchester City.

Salah left the field in tears in the final four years ago after a heavy fall under a challenge by Sergio Ramos, with Real going on to clinch the title with a 3-1 victory. “We have a score to settle,” Salah posted on social media after Real eliminated City 6-5 on aggregate.

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Real Madrid 3-1 Manchester City (agg 6-5): Champions League semi-final, second leg – as it happened

City, seemingly Paris bound, were stunned by Rodrygo’s late double whammy and Karim Benzema’s extra-time penalty

1 min: Vinicius Junior goes on a run down the left and is shoved in the back by Mahrez. A free kick right by the corner flag.

Manchester City get the ball rolling. We’ll find out who faces Liverpool in Paris on Saturday 28 May soon enough!

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Problem-solver Klopp presses reset to propel Liverpool into another final | David Hytner

Villarreal dominated half of the Champions League semi-final second leg but Reds found way to make it to Paris showpiece

Luis Díaz revved the engine, priming the afterburners. He blazed up the left, taking Juan Foyth, the Villarreal right-back, with him. He slowed and then he went again, purring away from him. The Liverpool winger had just entered as a half-time substitute in his team’s Champions League semi-final, second leg at the Estadio de la Cerámica and he was testing his marker, working out whether he had the beating of him. The answer was emphatic. He did.

Díaz knew it. So did everyone and, as Liverpool set about starting Tuesday night’s tie – albeit 45 minutes late – it felt as though something had been plugged in, the power returning.

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Villarreal 2-3 Liverpool (2-5 agg): Champions League semi-final, second leg – as it happened

Liverpool survived a huge scare to reach their tenth European Cup final, with the introduction of Luis Diaz inspiring a comeback from 2-0 down

“There are at least 15 Premier League sides that would absolutely love to trot out Liverpool’s bench as their starting XI (minus one, obviously). You know they’ve got depth for days, but to see it laid out like that is frightening stuff.”

As if to rub it in, Jurgen Klopp has picked a bench that you can fit into a realistic XI, rather than one of those fantasy teams people pick with Pele and Maradona at centre-half.

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De Bruyne admits City need Champions League trophy to ‘change the narrative’

  • European Cup is the main prize to have eluded Manchester City
  • Real Madrid host City on Wednesday, 4-3 down in semi-final

Kevin De Bruyne believes Manchester City have to win the Champions League to change the perception of the club despite their recent domestic domination.

Pep Guardiola’s team will reach a second successive final if Real Madrid are knocked out at the Bernabéu on Wednesday. City hold a 4-3 advantage from the first leg. In the past decade City have claimed five Premier League titles, the FA Cup and six League Cups with the European Cup the main prize to have eluded them. The 1970 Cup Winners’ Cup remains their only European silverware.

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Unai Emery claims Villarreal will need ‘perfect game’ to beat Liverpool

  • Villarreal must overturn 2-0 deficit in Champions League semi
  • Liverpool have not lost by more than two goals all season

There was a smile from Unai Emery when the stats were read out to him the day before what could well be the biggest night in Villarreal’s history: not just the team but the town. This season Liverpool have played 56 games, losing only three and never by more than two goals. In other words Jürgen Klopp’s team have not endured the kind of result that Villarreal will have to inflict on them to progress to the Champions League final.

“You’ve done a good job finding that stat,” the Villarreal coach said. “We had them but I didn’t want to say so. That shows you how difficult it will be to turn it round but we will work on the game and see if we can.

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Alexander-Arnold calls on Liverpool to make history with quadruple in sight

  • Defender hopeful club can make ‘history books’
  • ‘These are the best times we are going to have as a team’

Trent Alexander-Arnold has called on Liverpool to crown a “very special season” with a place in the history books as Jürgen Klopp’s quadruple chasers attempt to secure a third Champions League final appearance in five campaigns.

Liverpool visit Villarreal in the semi-finals on Tuesday leading 2-0 from the first leg with a 100% win record on the road in the competition this season. Alexander-Arnold said in February that one trophy per season should be the minimum expectation for a squad of Liverpool’s quality. But with the team close to an unprecedented quadruple in the final month of the campaign, the 23-year-old right-back has revised his target.

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