Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola, has insisted that his side was “exceptional” despite losing 0-1 to Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League Final.
Kai Havertz scored the only goal of the encounter in the first half at the Estadio do Dragao in the Portuguese city of Porto on Saturday to hand Chelsea their second Champions League title after their 2012 triumph.
Speaking after the match, Guardiola defended his decision not to play a natural defensive midfielder of either captain Fernandinho and Rodri from his starting line-up.
According to him, the more attack-minded line-up was the best for the team, noting that the players performed to their best.
“I did the best in the selection,” he said.
“Against Lyon [in 2020] like it was against PSG, Dortmund, I tried the selection the best to win the game. The players know it, I think Ilkay Gundogan played good, we were exceptional.”
Guardiola also stated that the 2020/2021 season was exceptional for City even though they lost the biggest game of the campaign on the final day.
City clinched a fifth Premier League title in the last 10 years with ease this season, Guardiola’s third domestic crown since arriving at the club.
The Citizens also won the League Cup (Carabao Cup) for a second consecutive time under the Spanish tactician.
But despite falling short in their first appearance in the final of Europe’s elite club competition, Guardiola said he is happy with his side’s work this term.
He said: “I would like to say it was an exceptional season for us. It was a dream for us to be here, unfortunately, we could not win.
“For most of us in this club it is the first time here, but we work to come back one day.
“It was a tough season in the pandemic, but we learn from this for the future. I have incredible respect for the players, they gave everything, but we will come back stronger. I want to congratulate them for their exceptional season.”
On his part, Thomas Tuchel, head coach of the winning Chelsea side, praised his players for being “brave” in what he described as a physical game.
The German tactician said the plan was for his Chelsea team to be “a stone in City’s shoe”, adding that he is glad to win the trophy after losing out with Paris St-Germain, who were beaten in last season’s final by Bayern Munich.
He said: “To share it with everybody is incredible. We made it. Wow. I don’t know what to feel.
“I was so grateful to arrive a second time [in the final]. I felt different.
“The [players] were determined to win this. We wanted to be a stone in their shoe. We encouraged everybody to step up and step out, to be more brave and create dangerous counter-attacks.
“It was a tough physical game. We had to help each other out.”
Tuchel was only given an 18-month contract when he joined the club in January and met owner Roman Abramovich for the first time in person after the game.
“Maybe I have a new contract now with that win,” he said. “I spoke to Roman just now and it was the best moment for the first meeting, or maybe the worst moment. Maybe it can only get worse now.”