World Cup and Euros champion Emmanuel Petit has spoken exclusively to Paddy Power ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final between Manchester City and Chelsea in Portugal. As a former Blue and ex-team-mate of City chief Pep Guardiola at Barcelona, Petit is a man in the know when it comes to this weekend.
And he’s not held back. The ponytailed midfield maestro has put his neck on the line to predict the winner of Saturday’s showpiece and to stick the boot into Pep’s Style. Well, only a little.
To be honest, his team don’t play the football I prefer
“I played with Pep Guardiola at Barcelona and he was always directing players on the pitch, pointing and talking all the time. He was very similar to Didier Deschamps, who also played the holding midfield position where you can have so much control over the game.
“Both of them (Deschamps and Guardiola) have had so much success in their managerial careers and I’m surprised when I hear people are surprised by this! I played with both of them and they were more like managers than players, even when they were on the pitch.
“I respect Guardiola a lot and have huge admiration for what he’s done and what he’s doing in the Premier League. To be honest, his team don’t play the football I prefer.
I like the more direct and straightforward style of teams like Liverpool, Atalanta or Ajax.
“But I appreciate watching Guardiola’s team, the way they control the game and keep possession, technically it’s really good to watch.
Ruben Dias is crucial to Guardiola’s best season so far at Manchester City
“Chelsea will try their best to overcome a Manchester City side who have been amazing this season. When you look back to the start of the season, it was quite a difficult period for them. They lost in the Champions League quarter-finals against Lyon and at the start of the Premier League they didn’t look right physically and mentally.
“They signed Ruben Dias at the start of October and he’s had a huge impact defensively. We all knew they were missing something in defence, that was probably their weakest area over the past few years. This guy (Dias) has given them leadership at the back and proved they can be amazing in defence as well as up front.
“The other turning point was when they drew 1-1 at West Brom in December and some players were really p****d off – Pep Guardiola too. They had a big meeting, put everything on the table and knew they needed to change. Suddenly they became the dangerous side we all know, a powerful team with unbelievable individuals.
“This is Guardiola’s best season since he arrived at Manchester City. They’ve played without a striker for months – you look at the table of top scorers and there’s no City player in it! But they have so many players who can score between 10 and 15 goals a season. That’s amazing, and for me it’s proof that Guardiola’s management has been huge for the team. He has done brilliantly.”
Man City will win the Champions League because they are clinical
“When it comes to a final, and your whole season hangs on one game, you need to be clinical in both areas in front of goal.
“Defensively with Chelsea, that’s guaranteed. But up front I’m not so sure. In a final you might get only two or three chances to score, and you need to take them. Chelsea have too many players who need four or five chances to score.
“Manchester City have players who need only one chance. I don’t think there are going to be many chances in this game, so City are the better choice for me. That’s why I feel as though City are going to win this final.
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