Louis van Gaal believes this season has seen the unveiling of Pep Guardiola 2.0.
Van Gaal, the Dutchman who was Guardiola's coach at Barcelona, reckons the Manchester City boss is so obsessed with winning the Champions League for the first time since leaving the Nou Camp almost a decade ago, that he has ditched his all-out attacking philosophy for a more pragmatic approach.
Despite lifting the European Cup twice as manager of his hometown club, Guardiola has not progressed beyond the semi-finals in eight years with Bayern Munich and City.
Van Gaal feels it's the only trophy that now matters to the Catalan – to the extent he has built one of football's most formidable defences.
Van Gaal, who won the European crown with Ajax during a glittering coaching career that also included spells at Manchester United and Bayern, said: “Pep sees winning the Champions League as his big target, his big trophy at City.
“He has won it with Barcelona twice, but he wants to prove he can do it with another team.
“And let’s not forget, City as a club are desperate to also win the Champions League.
“One thing that is really helping Pep and why I can see him having a good chance is that he has evaluated his principles of attacking football.
“He has let go of his dogmatic principle of always playing attacking football.”
City have never gone beyond the last four in the Champions League – and Guardiola's four attempts as the Blues' boss have all ended in bitter failure.
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Last summer, even Kevin De Bruyne criticised his tactics as City were dumped out in the quarter-finals by Lyon.
City spent £63million in the summer to bring in Ruben Dias from Benfica.
The Portuguese's arrival has led to a renaissance for John Stones.
And this season, City have conceded just 15 goals in 24 Premier League games and are storming towards the title.
They also allowed just one goal in six Champions League group games to set up a last-32 clash with Borussia Monchengladbach.
The first leg takes place in Budapest on Wednesday.
Van Gaal said: “Pep is no longer pushing both his full-backs up so high because he saw how it caused his centre-backs problems.
“They had too much space to cover and were beaten in the counter attack.
“Even the best central defenders cannot cope with just the two of them when opponents break on the counter-attack.
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“Pep now only lets one full-back go. The other one drifts in midfield or covers for the central defenders. This is Pep's new trick!”
Van Gaal added: “Pep also scouts his players for his own system much more than others.
“But it really looks like Pep has decided to change things in his football vision and style.
“I discussed this in my latest book – and I know he went mad when he read it.
“It was about his dogmatic attacking. But he may have done something with my advice after all!”
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