Pep Guardiola is one of football’s greatest-ever managers.
His play style is built on the tiki-taka philosophy, which is one of the most intricate forms of football, requiring a high level of short passing to build the game up.
When his teams play, they almost always dominate the possession and have the most passes and the most chances to score.
So it is only natural that his worst enemy is the absolute opposite of this – a counter-attacking form of football.
When the Spaniard concedes a goal from a counterattack, he cannot believe his eyes. He is distraught with how easily the opponents could score with minimal effort and scarce passing.
Take the goal from Vinicius Jr. for example. Back in 2020, Real Madrid were playing Pep-managed Manchester City in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
The Brazilian attacker struck Fernandinho with a dummy before sprinting in to score. The most important takeaway from this, despite the fact that it was the winner, was Guardiola’s response.
As Guardiola watched Fernandinho fall, it appeared as though he knew exactly what was going to happen. As soon as Vinicius duped the City player, he sank to his knees in fear of the inevitable.
This weekend, Man City played Liverpool. And Klopp needed a way to utilize this tactic against the all-conquering City side.
Fortunately for the Kop, counter-attacks are what they excel at. This is something Guardiola is well aware of, as we could see when his understudy Mikel Arteta talked highly about Van Dijk’s killer passes to Salah.
While Arteta and Pep are aware of the counter-attacking strength of Liverpool, only one of them could deal with it.
Arteta had a solution where Guardiola was found lacking, something that may seem hard to digest.
Arteta placed Tomiyasu on Salah and neutralised every long ball that was played to him, and Arteta stayed on his feet as Arsenal beat Liverpool 3-2.
Guardiola on the other hand, witnessed this killer long ball first-hand. He saw and could only spectate as Cancelo got turned and dropped by Mohamed Salah. One long ball from Alisson, and the Egyptian went in to score.
Pep’s reaction? Falling to his knees well before the goal went in of course. Deja Vu much?
Just like with Vini before, the manager knew that the inevitable would happen.
This goal happened to be the decisive factor between the two teams, as the game ended 1-0 against the Cityzens.
We can’t discredit Guardiola however, as this goal came off of a mistake from Cancelo, which could and should have been avoided.
Maybe if the fullback did not attempt to play the ball, he could’ve tracked back enough to put Salah off.
The importance of this mistake wasn’t lost on Guardiola, as can be seen in this killer stare he gives to the post-match interviewer after being asked “What was the mistake?”
Either way, it was another counterattack goal for Liverpool, and another tragic moment for Guardiola, who must have felt the Earth beneath him shift.
With Arsenal creating a 4 points gap at the top, Guardiola and City have their work cut out for them.