We all know that Pep Guardiola likes to absolutely control everything in a Football match. The amount of detail he puts into the preparation for each match is just out of this world. But, the nature of Football is such that there are moments that you just can’t even predict. Last season’s Champion’s League match against Madrid was an eye-opening example of this.
I am not for a moment blaming Ederson for that loss. There were a lot of if’s and but’s in that game. Maybe, if we had scored more in the first leg, or if Grealish had put away the chances he had just moments before the Madrid comeback, maybe if Walker could have carried on for half an hour more…..The list just goes on and on. At some point it just makes no sense to try and control all the variables in a knock out game.
The League in comparison is entirely different. Even if you make a mistake in the League, you always have tomorrow to rectify it. But, you are dead in the Champions League even without a mistake of your own sometimes. This is the reality and we as City fans must accept it and understand that winning the Champions League requires a different profile of players in 2 key positions.
Ruthlessness is key in Champions League
I think the journey of Madrid and the way we went out in the last 4 Champions Leagues have told Pep 2 things in particular. To win a Champions league you don’t need to absolutely control everything, but you need to be ruthless. Benzema was putting away chances that did not even have a right to test the goal keeper. In comparison, we were missing chances that had no right to be missed. This was addressed by bringing in Haaland.
The strikers in the Champions league are so sharp that there will be gilt edged chances despite superb defensive organization. Ruthlessness of the keeper is a high priority as shown by how Courtois won Madrid the Champions League final alone. This brings us to a question regarding how suitable is Ederson for a Knockout competition.
Ederson and his shot stopping skills
The argument of most people is that Ederson has saved what he could in that Champions League match against Madrid. But, to win a Champions League, you need to pull out saves that are almost impossible to pull off. Every Team winning the Champions League in the last decade have had at least one game where the keeper had single handedly won the game for them.
But, when you look at the attributes of Ederson, he is not as flexible in his movement and lacks as quick reflexes as other very good keepers do. Also, he is not at all a good penalty stopper. I know penalties are a bit of a gamble. But, good penalty stoppers put that pressure on the taker and that is so important in a knock out game.
Key attributes of Ortega
I understand that Ederson is very good with his feet, but i guess the time has now come for us to start Stefan Ortega who is good with his feet, but he is also very good with his shot stopping. Some of the saves Ortega makes with his feet tell you that he has incredible reflexes. Add to all this the fact that Ortega is also a very good penalty taker, i feel that this could be the perfect combination of shot stopping and ability on the ball
Also, i have always felt that playing for a Pep team in Knock out competitions requires a goal keeper whose balance is a little bit more skewed towards shot stopping without compromising on the ability on the ball. Valdes at Barca was a key example of this kind of a keeper. I think Stefan Ortega is better than Valdes on the ball and i think he is also a better shot stopper than Valdes.
I know this comparison of Ortega vs Ederson might seem non-sensical, but along with Haaland, Ortega might be the missing piece in this puzzle to win the Champions League. At least, all of the attributes of Ortega suggest to me that he is one of the best suited Goal Keepers for knockout competitions.