An interesting article in the New York Times about Pep Guardiola, the manager of Manchester City, and his obsession with winning the Champions League title. Despite incredible domestic success, he hasn’t been back to the Champions League Final since 2011 when he was on top of the soccer world with Barcelona.

Some insight into his “obsessive preparation” and how it may have hurt his teams in the biggest match of the year. Fighting the tendency to over-coach in a big game is not easy. Even the best in the world struggle with it.

By 2020, though, his players were wondering if that obsessive preparation was the problem. Guardiola was so preoccupied by what his opponents might do that he compromised his own principles. The ideas and the imagination that made first Bayern Munich and then Manchester City untouchable over the span of a season were jettisoned in favor of a more pragmatic approach.

Crucially, it did not seem to work, a view expressed inside and outside the club in the aftermath of the defeat to Lyon. Even Gundogan, as ardent an acolyte of Guardiola as one could hope to meet, used that word — “overcomplicate” — in an interview this week. The key for a final, he said, is “not to do anything different or unexpected: Stick with the stuff that you are convinced by, that works for you. You don’t overcomplicate it.” The ghosts of the last four years have not been entirely exorcised, not yet.

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