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Guardiola’s Champions League dream turns into a grim nightmare

It’s an odd Real Madrid contrivance that somehow only the La Liga giants and multiple Champions League winners are able to pull off so amazingly well – and with such uncanny predictability, too. To come from two goals down after 89 minutes to defeat one of footballs best teams in extra time and secure their place in the Champions League final isn’t exactly a feat that even the top flight teams in Europe can execute on a regular basis.

Undoubtedly the margins were scarily fine. Former Aston Villa star Jack Grealish had two chances and he did well for both. Unfortunately there were a number of ‘ifs’ that didn’t quite work out right for the English league champions.

Although impossible to explain, it was nonetheless a freak occurrence for the fact that Real Madrid are able to repeat it. The night was theirs, undoubtedly. They had won it fair and square, with more than a pinch of slat tossed over their shoulders.

But what is left of Manchester City’s season now? That is a thought that will be far away in the Spanish capital but will need to return quickly.

So what next for Pep Guardiola’s side after Rodrygo’s last minute heroics?

Pep Guardiola is obviously disconsolate at yet another Champions League loss. He will again rue yet another great chance missed when he appeared to have a team capable of winning this Champions League. Now his own 11-year wait to lay his hands again on the biggest prize in European club football will be prolonged.

This time, unlike in some of misses of the previous years, he played it straight without any shock omissions, without his set up being overly aggressive nor overly cautious. And this time around his substitutions, not Carlo Ancelotti’s, almost made the difference with Grealish close to being the hero off the bench. If only that had happened then City might have been narrow favorites to beat Liverpool in Paris, just as they are to win the Premier League. Again ‘if’…

Now the Spaniard whom most, even his peers, regard as the best coach in contemporary football history, must hit the reset button to lift his players anew and not allow the depression to seep in and unsettle them, despite the harsh reality that the trophy they craved has again eluded them for another year.

All they can look forward to now is maintain their exacting standards, in the hope that a premium domestic title will satiate their gnawing hunger. Easier said than done, of course, but then again it’s Guardiola and his dazzling men in sky blue that one would be foolish to bet against, despite having lost out again in the premier European competition.