Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has suggested Chelsea’s superior transitional play and long-ball game were the difference in the Champions League final back in May.
Chelsea triumphed 1-0 over the Citizens in Porto with the winning goal coming courtesy of Kai Havertz, who latched onto a long through ball from Mason Mount before rounding Ederson and slotting home.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of City’s first meeting with the Blues since the European showpiece four months ago, Guardiola pinpointed where he believed the game swung on the night and made a thinly-veiled dig at Chelsea’s style of play.
“We played a great Champions League final,” he said. “We lost, but we played a great final.
“We missed a little bit to be precise in the final third. We lost the second ball and their transition was so good.
“They regain the ball and they regain again and make a quick transition. They structure defensively so good, the physicality, the movement, the quality in the short spaces. They control all departments which is why it was difficult in the final of the Champions League against an exceptional team.
“My impression is that we were really good. We played with courage and personality. Unfortunately on counter attacks, long balls, second balls they were better and they beat us.”
Guardiola’s City side have lost all three of their meetings with Chelsea since Thomas Tuchel took the reins at Stamford Bridge back in January – once in the Premier League, once in the FA Cup and, of course, in the Champions League final.
However, Guardiola insisted that poor record would not affect City’s approach to the match.
“We prepare the game like we prepare Southampton before and the previous games, try to read what they are and what we have done in recent games against Chelsea and Tuchel,” he continued.
“Every game is a new challenge to improve and learn and be better. A final is completely different, the previous games like in the FA Cup was a final and was a tight game, we lost. In the Premier League it was already done, we were already nearly champions.
“The Champions League was a massive game. We try to learn, not it’s a new competition and we learn for these games. It’s one more game for the Premier League. Prepare the game from the strong points we have and improve what we have to be better.
‘The mindset we had the last days to prepare this game will be the same against PSG and Liverpool before the international break.”
Chelsea host Man City in the lunchtime kick off on Saturday, with both teams looking to make an early statement in the Premier League title race.