Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola insists that his Chelsea counter-part Maurizio Sarri is well versed in his tactical approach to matches.
The two sides are scheduled to meet in the first major final of 2019 in English football on Sunday, as the latest edition of the Carabao Cup reaches its conclusion at Wembley.
City are still chasing an unprecedented quadruple while Chelsea are also in the hunt for three trophies themselves, despite an inconsistent debut campaign for Sarri.
The 60-year-old coach came to Stamford Bridge from Napoli last summer with a sterling reputation in Italy for his ‘Sarri-ball’ philosophy, which is based around quick passing interchanges and fluid attacking football.
That system has faced criticism among experts and fans at times this season, with certain players being moved out of position and struggling to produce their best levels of performance.
However, Guardiola has jumped to Sarri’s defence ahead of the final this weekend, stating that the Italian boss knows exactly what he is doing.
“As a spectator and coach I try to figure out what the manager is trying to do,” said Guardiola, as per Sky Sports.
“I see Chelsea and I can understand what they want to do. And after I see them, they do it. Maybe for other people, they don’t know exactly what they want to do. But they do it.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) February 8, 2019
“The best strikers in the world are there, the midfielders there are the best in the world, a good goalkeeper, experienced defenders. They know exactly what they want to do.
“The season for them is exceptional – final of the Carabao Cup, Europa League through and in the Premier League they are there, even if people don’t believe it.”
Chelsea come into the match having won three of their last four fixtures, but a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Bournemouth on January 30 saw Sarri receive a backlash from supporters and the media.
The Blues will still be hoping to replicate their huge home win against Chelsea earlier in the season, which showed that when Sarri gets his tactics right, his team are a match for anyone.
City have won 10 of their last 11 games across all competitions though and they are rightly being billed as favourites to retain the cup they won last year, which ultimately served as a precursor to even greater success.
Guardiola’s men are still the most feared side in English football and if they are at their best on Sunday Chelsea will have a real fight on their hands, even if Sarri-ball is working at its optimum level.