Pep Guardiola’s genius can never be questioned after a management career that’s produced a blizzard of trophies in Spain, Germany and England.
But Manchester City fans had a sense of fore-boding after their Messiah went potty in Portugal once again – with a Champions League final line-up that put his stars on the back foot against Chelsea.
In Lisbon last summer Guardiola tinkered with his team in the quarter-finals against Lyon – and it back-fired dramatically as the French under-dogs won.
And City’s Spanish boss played with fire again in the Estadio do Dragao with another gamble that put his stars on the back-foot in Europe’s show-piece game.
The Premier League is used to a City side with a false number nine, full-backs who play like wingers and midfielders who score for fun.
But for only the second time in his Etihad reign, Guardiola chose a team without any holding midfielder.
And against a Chelsea boss in Thomas Tuchel who has got his number after two wins already in the League and FA Cup in the last six weeks that seemed a foolish folly – especially with City chasing their European dream.
Guardiola has the Midas touch and that’s why he’s been loved at every club he’s managed.
And even with stakes so high Guardiola didn’t flinch from demanding brave football from his stars with a line-up that promised attacking mayhem.
While Tuchel played with a protective screen of N’Golo Kante and Jorginho in front of his defenders Guardiola left Fernandinho and Rodri on the bench.
Instead he went large with a front six that oozed goals and menace in a show of ballsy attacking intent.
You can take your pick whether that was courageous – or crackers.
But it gave Chelsea a boost they couldn’t have expected.
And in a fabulous first half Tuchel’s took full advantage scoring close to half time with a beautifully crafted move inspired by Mason Mount and finished expertly by kai Havertz after rounding Ederson.
From the start Chelsea looked more balanced, a team with a plan even though destiny and history were calling for City.