City's dazzling De Bruyne reality eases memories of Messi dream

theworldgame.sbs.com.au
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Speaking to Radio Catalunya in 2017, Pep Guardiola took a self-deprecating tone when considering his feted coaching reputation.
You see, life is easy with Lionel Messi in your dressing room.

"The greatest advantage of having Leo is that the other 10 players know they have Leo on their team and that sooner or later he will do it," he said.

"I was his coach and we were planning and I thought, 'We will get the ball to Messi and that's that, we will score.'"

At the start of this month, it briefly looked like Guardiola would be able to unfurl this approach at Molineux in Manchester City's Premier League season opener against Wolves.

Of course, Messi concluded an exit from Camp Nou was not viable and a fantasy football tonic to a dispiriting 2019-20 in east Manchester was taken off the table.

Nevertheless, during Monday's impressive 3-1 win over opponents that have tended to give his team fits, Guardiola settled on an update of his old template.

Get the ball to Kevin De Bruyne and that's that.

Okay, so this is a simplification of the sparkling display City put on to get their Premier League title bid up and running.

John Stones was in from the cold alongside new signing Nathan Ake in a silky-smooth centre-back pairing - or was it a pairing? Rodri dropped in from midfield to play in between them at times during the first half, with Stones taking opportunities to join attacks down the right flank.

Captain Fernandinho enjoyed…
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