After crushing and outsmarting Real Madrid and Zinedine Zidane, surely, Pep Guardiola and Manchester City’s attacking style of football seemed to be well set to script history in the Champions League this season. There was not Tottenham Hotspur in the quarterfinals to unleash a freak show like last season, but Olympique Lyon are a team, who progressed this far after finishing seventh in the so-called Farmer’s League and don’t have the players to match the skill and tactical soundness like City.

After the jolly-bash at Benfica by Bayern Munich, the repeat was expected last night, but in the end, City’s Champions League ambitions were cut short by Lyon – it was a shocking outcome for many. Those who watched the game live, could understand, Lyon’s progress is not a flash out of the pan, but the credit must be given to one of the most underrated coaches in today’s football – Rudi Garcia.

Whenever you play against Pep, you have to find a way to exploit the chances, which Pep would give. The midfield and forward of City are a mixture of volatile chemical substances, which is able to blow away any opposition defence.

Pep attack through the right side of the field fully exploits the half-spaces and the dominates the center of the park even if the defence remains unsafe, Pep would press higher. Pep loves to keep full authority on the possession as usual and changes shape rapidly, which more often outweighs the opposition.

Garcia knows all these things and he was well aware, he had a little chance against City and wished to utilize that little chance as much as possible.

City started the game with three defenders at the back – Fernandinho, Garcia, and Laporte. Rodrigo was stationed in front of Garcia with Cancelo and Kyle Walker occupying the flanks Gundogan and Kevin de Bruyne marshaling the midfield. Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus were upfront.

Rudi Garcia, decided to change the shape from 3-5-2 to 5-3-2 and emphasized on midblock.

Ekambe and Memphis Depay were upfront against City’s three in a 3 vs 2 situation!

As a matter of fact, this situation prompted City to utilize the space on the right, left free by Garcia.

Fernandinho was the ball-playing defender, who moved right after receiving the ball, but Lyon employed Aouar to push up into space on the right and press Fernandinho. Whereas Bruno Giumeres pushed higher centrally to press Rodrigo and made ball progression tougher.

With the space on the right and center occupied, Fernandinho utilized the half-spaces to pass the ball to Walker, who was suffocated by Cornet.

Kevin de Bruyne pushed up on the right to receive the ball, but the ball was not coming and the third center-back of Lyon, Marcal came extremely handy to block de Bruyne.

City unable to exploit their favourite zone, felt suffocated and Garcia fed on it.

Ekambi was fed by a deep ball, with Walker appearing to play him onside – and though he stumbled over his shot, winger Cornet ran like a Hare upfront for the support and cracked a spectacular low effort past Ederson at the near-post from outside the box.

Lyon 1 Manchester City 0!

Rudi Garcia had shut down the right side of City and forced them to try things on the left.

Overall, City attacked 48% from the left side, middle: 22% and right: 29%!

Now, Laporte was the ball-playing defender and which prompted Gundogan to push higher on the left and pressurize the marker Caqueret.

With Caqueret busy against Gudogan, Laporte and Cancelo combined to attack.

Sterling and Jesus positioned themselves in between the defenders.

Cancelo often found spaces behind the left-sided markers and whenever Sterling received the ball, he cut-back to threaten the Lyon defence.

Pep brought on Riyad Mahrez in the second half, which changed the shape to 4-3-3 and at times, 4-3-1-2 with de Bryune and Sterling staying narrow and higher on the left.

The City pivots drew Lyon forward and allowed Mahrez to exploit the spaces on the left.

De Bruyne equalized and injected life in City.

But that gave Garcia the opportunity to exploit the spaces at the back.

Laporte pushed himself higher to overload the Lyon defence. But Lyon defenders positioned themselves in between the lines to block the passing lanes and frustrate City.

In turn, the high line defence of City was exposed.

Aouar delivered one downfield after City lost possession on the edge of the center circle and it looked, Ekambi, in an apparent offside position, passed the ball to Moussa Dembele, who put it past Ederson despite a touch from the goalkeeper. VAR had a look, but for a foul on Laporte – the goal stayed.

Lyon 2 City 1!

City pressed higher and created one hell of an opportunity to bounce back – Sterling from the square in front with an open goal after Jesus found him with a cross, sent it flying over the crossbar.

That was the miss of this century and would hurt Pep and City for a long, long time.

City, frustrated and gutted, advanced forward.

The substitute Reine-Adélaïde was on hand in the City box for a shot from Aouar, which Ederson allowed to bobble away from him, and it was a simple tap-in.

Lyon advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2009-10.

City had 18 attempts on goal in comparison to Lyon’s 7. City passed the ball 667 times while Lyon 264 with 72% and 28% possessions respectively.

What actually mattered was the game of tactics. City’s 595 short-passes were outweighed by 69 longballs to surpass the overloading of City and exploit the spaces at the back.

Then the domination at the center of the park dictated the terms –  Lyon dominated it better.


Pep was outclassed by Garcia at Lisbon.

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