Manchester City defeated Real Madrid 4-0 (5-1 overall)

Guardiola did, of course, notice the peculiar fault when he twice theatrically collapsed to the ground in his technical area during the second half with his head gripped in his hands as City gave up possession too easily.

That may have been the only issue with City’s stunning 4-0 demolition of Real Madrid if you were looking for criticism. This was truly something remarkable.

Any lingering reservations about the caliber of the team Guardiola has put together may have been dispelled by an extraordinary performance, particularly in the first half, when Real were essentially reduced to the level of a lesser league team desperately trying to win a cup match.

And if they manage to replicate the ideal Treble achieved by Manchester United in 1999 — winning the Champions League, Premier League, and FA Cup — that greatness may be formally bestowed upon both the squad and manager.

On June 10 in Istanbul, City will be the clear favorite to defeat Inter Milan in the Champions League final. A win over Chelsea at home on Sunday will guarantee them a fifth Premier League title in six years. They play United in the FA Cup final at Wembley a week earlier.

In fact, it would now be more surprising if they didn’t win the Treble than if they did, even though United’s desire to preserve a piece of history will give Erik ten Hag’s team motivation and adrenaline.

The Champions League is increasingly seen—fairly or not—as the prism through which Guardiola’s tenure as manager will be judged, and this was, in many ways, a defining night and performance for a City team that has found numerous ways to leave the competition.

The way in which Real were flat-out destroyed had a brutal beauty to it. Legends like Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, and Karim Benzema appeared to be in a daze after City went up by two goals, and the renownedly unflappable coach Carlo Ancelotti appeared defeated and at a loss as he engaged Vinicius Junior in conversation on the sidelines.

Guardiola acknowledged that the agony of losing to Real in the semifinals at this point last season served as motivation for this victory. City came close to reaching the final before giving up two stoppage time goals at the Bernabeu, which ultimately caused them to lose.

Of course, there was also the 2021 Champions League final defeat to Chelsea, in which Guardiola’s unexpected team selection was credited with having a significant influence on the events in Porto.

No such issues exist here.

Guardiola said: “I had a feeling in these last days we had the proper balance of serenity and intensity. City performed with the conviction of a team on a march towards destiny. The crew was evidently prepared to execute at this level.

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