Manchester City players could be suffering psychologically from their latest Champions League exit, former midfielder Yaya Toure says.
Eight days on from a 2-1 win over Real Madrid that secured a 4-2 aggregate victory in the last 16, Pep Guardiola’s side were stunned 3-1 by Lyon, who finished seventh in Ligue 1 last season.
Guardiola has led City to six major domestic trophies since 2016, including two Premier League titles, but he has never gone beyond the last eight in Europe in that time.
Indeed, despite their significant Abu Dhabi-backed investment in the playing squad, they have only reached the semi-finals of Europe’s elite competition once – in 2016, under Manuel Pellegrini.
Toure, a Champions League winner under Guardiola at Barcelona in 2009 before joining City, thinks the continued disappointment in the tournament could start to take its toll.
“In Europe, all the clubs are vicious. Other clubs are very good, and clever,” he told Sky Sports.
“This competition is hard. Psychologically, it can affect you. When you keep on losing, losing, any team can beat you.
“In the Champions League, you saw RB Leipzig beating Atletico Madrid, that was a shock for people because football now is so unpredictable. When those teams came, they just put everything on it. They want to win, 100 per cent.
“Of course, maybe City against Lyon, the way they were playing in the beginning [did not help], but after that, you have to give credit to Lyon as well. They got it spot on, and they knocked City out.”
Guardiola was criticised in some quarters for his tactical approach, choosing to match Lyon’s 3-5-2 and leaving a host of attacking players on the bench, but Toure thinks the French side deserve some credit.
“Of course, Lyon played well, they were well organised, but I don’t think City changed much,” he said. “People have talked about his tactics, but the team always have to play the same way. It’s just Lyon caused them problems, defended well and caught them on the counter-attack.
“We were all shocked when City lost to Lyon. For all the fans who were thinking it was the season City would win.
“You have to only play one-off games, thinking it would be an easy one with playing against Lyon rather than Juventus, and people were shocked. But you have to admit that Lyon played very well, they were very well prepared.”