Pep Guardiola was grinning widely after his tactical moves set up Manchester City in a 2-1 comeback win over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.
“I’m so proud,” Guardiola said. “This is the first step. It’s not over. We can enjoy the moment.”
Why wouldn’t he be smiling? Guardiola became the first manager to win Champions League games at the Bernabeu with two different teams, and did it during one of the most controversial periods in club history.
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What was different? Well, Guardiola played Kevin De Bruyne as a sort of second striker and took center forward Gabriel Jesus and deployed him as a left-sided midfielder.
“In the four years we are here with Pep, sometimes there are some surprises,” De Bruyne said. “Even the players don’t really know before the game starts what we need to do. Some were good. We had some lesser moments but in a quality game like this you’re gonna struggle but we fought really well together.”
28 – Pep Guardiola has become the manager with the most wins in Champions League knockout games (28), surpassing Carlo Ancelotti, José Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson. Master.#RMAMCI
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) February 26, 2020
Jesus had it even weirder, playing as a sort of left midfielder or even wingback with plenty of responsibility going back and forward.
The Brazilian said he has some experience playing wide, but — again — you have to be ready for the full Pep Guardiola experience.
“I can remember my time in the Palmeiras academy and I play like a winger and then become a striker,” he said. “But I go to the pitch to help my team-mates. It doesn’t matter if I have to run back or forwards. I have to help my team-mates. We are learning a lot. We have to play different positions sometimes.”
Guardiola knows the second leg is going to be tough, as Real will put everything into attack.
“When we were better, we conceded a goal,” Guardiola said, via the BBC. “When they were better, we scored a goal. That’s football. I remember the quarterfinal a few seasons ago at Anfield when we played incredibly well and they scored all their shots on target.”
Real will be without center back Sergio Ramos, who was sent off late, while Man City could be missing its best center back. Aymeric Laporte subbed off in the first half.Follow @NicholasMendola