And after the first leg against Tottenham in north London last week when he failed to back up his manager’s big call in selecting him on the right of three in a 4-2-3-1 formation no one had cause to change their mind.
But with the dynamic of the tie changed and with the task in hand very clear, it is unlikely to be a mistake that Guardiola will choose to repeat tonight.
Asked whether he saw the second leg playing out in similar fashion to the first, Guardiola was pretty clear.
“We have to score goals and we have to create an environment for our supporters [to get into it],” he said.
Second guessing Guardiola’s team selection has been a route to the poor house in his time at City but with the Spaniard admitting all out attack will be needed a reversion to 4-3-3 with a place for Leroy Sane looks favourite.
And with more needed creatively from the midfield, certainly early on when the crowd need to be filled with noise not nerves, Kevin De Bruyne (not deployed until the 89th minute in London) will surely join him.
There was logic to Guardiola’s selection decision against Tottenham, in midfield at least where Ilkay Gundogan sitting in a No 6 role offered more of a defensive shield.
Given the chastening defeat against Liverpool at Anfield at the same stage of last season’s Champions League when meeting fire with fire did not work (de Bruyne played on the right side of a front three in a 4-3-3 formation) and they were blown away 3-0 inside the first half hour, it was always important that Manchester City were not stung.
And had Sergio Aguero put away the penalty just after the first quarter of an hour, the tie would have looked very different and Guardiola’s tactical set up could have been lauded.
As it was Heung-Min Son’s second half winner made it look like over-caution.
City rarely fail to score at the Etihad (it has happened only twice since the start of October 2017) and Guardiola will ensure tonight they will not die wondering.
A front five of Bernardo Silva, De Bruyne, Sane, Sterling, Aguero would be this writer’s preference and that is leaving David Silva on then bench, which few could do without a very heavy heart.
Throw in Phil Foden as a possible late game changer and it is a formidable attacking array to deploy in front of anchor Fernandinho.
Mahrez should start and finish on the bench. If he appears at any stage it will mean things are not going well at all.
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