From Manchester City and Liverpool FA Cup clash, it became abundantly clear that you can have the best coach, spend the money, can build a deep squad but ultimately your first 11 or 12 or 13 players will matter, and when you don’t have them against top teams that’s a problem.
The Pep Guardiola Paradox
Pep Guardiola at this stage just can’t afford to lose players like Diaz, Laporte, and Stones, and to rotate this partnership players like Walker, and Cancelo needs to be fit for their position.
Kevin De Bruyne is a key part of Guardiola’s formation to fire up all cylinders in the mid-field and this is where the argument pops up. It’s not about starting these guys but it’s about bringing these guys on because players on Man City’s bench will walk into any first team around the world and immediately make it better but the question is not only about the potential, the question is about the rest of the player and what happens to them with not enough game time?
Liverpool can rotate their front three with 6 options to choose from, some might be in better form than others but that doesn’t weaken the team. When we talk about midfield and defense of these two sides that’s where it becomes a problem because Man City couldn’t dominate the midfield as they did in Etihad and Madrid not because Pep didn’t have the players to do that but he wanted to save them for important fixtures ahead.
What Went Wrong?
Zack Steffen at Wembley showed a lack of game time and degrading confidence. The US international is 27 now and should’ve left Man City two years ago because his prime is getting wasted on the bench with a lack of game time. Given the high-profile nature of his recent errors, he might be in danger of losing his no.1 spot on the US national team.
One thing was clear Pep Guardiola didn’t want to nor could afford to have any injuries at this stage where he has the champions league semi-final and the rest of the season to look forward which he’d like to finish strongly and if anything, that was going to get parked it in this game.
With 7 changes, Man City’s whole reserve team was on the field at Wembley which was very often called a strong squad, and how good they were even after changes, well that’s gone. It was true a year ago but that’s not the case now.
In fact, in many ways, it was disrespectful towards Liverpool and especially Jurgen Klopp after what we saw in the scintillating 2-2 draw at Etihad. For Liverpool, it’s a completely different story because it doesn’t matter who comes in or whom Jurgen Klopp rotates which was the case with Man City exactly a year or two years ago.
Man City are out of the FA Cup and will have to deal with the wounds but in the picture, it may serve Man City and Guardiola better by just sending them back out to claw their way back into the game.
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