‘I don’t understand it… but hey, it’s Pep – he doesn’t favour anyone’: Man City boss Guardiola’s tactics are criticised by Sergio Aguero, as he questions why one star was left on the bench, despite a 1-1 draw at Real Madrid
Sergio Aguero challenged the decision-making of his former manager Pep Guardiola after the Manchester City boss failed to make a single substitution in his side’s 1-1 draw with Real Madrid.
Despite an initial show of dominance, City fell behind at the Santiago Bernabeu after a superb long-range strike from Real star Vinicius Jnr just past the half-hour mark.
The spoils were shared after Kevin De Bruyne netted a similarly sensational effort in the second half to set up a winner-takes-all clash at the Etihad in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final next Wednesday.
Guardiola opted not to introduce anyone from the bench despite the intensity of the tie – leaving talents such as Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez, and Julian Alvarez to watch the full 90 minutes from the sidelines.
By contrast, Carlo Ancelotti made three second-half changes, swapping starters Rodrygo, Toni Kroos, and Luka Modric for Marco Asensio, Aurelien Tchouameni, and Nacho Fernandez.
Pep Guardiola’s tactics were called into question by his former player Sergio Aguero (right)
The City legend said he ‘didn’t understand’ why one star was left on the bench at the Bernabeu
Aguero spent 10 trophy-filled years in Manchester, six of them under Guardiola, but failed to win a Champions League title with City.
Sharing his thoughts during his ESPN Star + watch-along, the retired striker, 34, queried why his compatriot Alvarez hadn’t been at the forefront of the Spaniard’s thinking.
‘What I don’t understand is why he didn’t put [on] Julian,’ the City legend said.
‘I wonder, but hey, it’s Pep. He doesn’t favour anyone. If it was up to me, I would play Julian in almost every game, because we need him to be active and for him to have a spark.’
Alvarez has largely been in the shadow of Erling Haaland this season but the World Cup winner, who was signed from River Plate last summer for £14million, has been a consistent performer for the Cityzens when called upon, scoring 15 goals across all competitions and making five assists.
Guardiola has decided against playing Alvarez alongside Haaland but the combination was deployed to great effect during City’s 2-1 win against Fulham at the end of April.
His inclusion in the line-up for the Premier League clash came due to the forced absence of star man Kevin De Bruyne, but after the match Guardiola said the pairing of Haaland and Alvarez on the day had given him food for thought.
‘He helped me a lot to understand that maybe in the future I have to adjust something to make both he and Kevin [De Bruyne] play. In tight games, where we play against defences with five at the back, this will be so so important,’ Guardiola said.
Julian Alvarez was forced to watch the game at the Santiago Bernabeu from the bench on Tuesday
The World Cup winner recently put in a commanding performance against Fulham in April
Guardiola has often decided against playing Alvarez alongside Erling Haaland up front
Guardiola was frustrated with Real’s ability to score against the run of play on Tuesday and described next week’s second leg as a ‘final’.
‘When we were better, they scored. When they were better, we scored. It was a tight, tight game,’ he said.
‘It’s so demanding,’ the manager added. ‘[Real] are so good, experienced and [have] quality, but we are the same.
‘We had good moments and it was sometimes difficult with the quality they have with the ball. But 1-1, [it will be a] final, next Wednesday at home with our people.’