Thomas Tuchel concedes he was surprised to see Manchester City start without a defensive midfielder in the Champions League final.
Pep Guardiola opted to leave both Rodri and Fernandinho on the bench at the Estadio do Dragao.
The decision came as a shock and was ultimately used a stick with which to beat the Catalan after City fell short.
Kai Havertz’s first-half strike sealed the contest against a team who appeared to go all out attack.
“We were a bit surprised, I expected Fernandinho in the line-up to start,” Tuchel admitted after the game.
“He chose a very offensive line-up, a very technical line-up, it was very hard to steal the ball and recover the ball. Everything else we more or less expected.
“We expected that they wanted us to pin on the side, very, very wide. So it was very important that we stepped out with Azpi and Toni constantly out of the back five to support our midfield.
“It was important to stay in a block in our front five to avoid diagonal switch of play, this is what we tried to implement and follow.
“It was a strong bond, we were absolutely sure we had to play with a strong bond and genuine belief with what we did.
“Minute after minute we could grab some ball possession we could win more and more second balls and initiate some dangerous counter attacks which gave us confidence, and from then on it was a tough match until the end.”
Guardiola has long been accused of overthinking big games but he has defended his decision to play Ilkay Gundogan at the base of midfield.
“It was an exceptional season for us, it was a dream being here,” said the City boss.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t win. I tried the best selection to win the game. The players know it. I think Gundogan played good and we were exceptional.
“If now we analyse the game of course we are sad. Congratulations to Chelsea. But we have to learn from this, and we will learn for the future.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t win, but we will come back stronger for the future.”
Sergio Aguero came off the bench to play his final game in the blue of City but was unable to find an equaliser. Fernandinho could also be set for pastures new.
Aguero’s departure means the Manchester club may make a big money signing in the transfer market to add some much needed firepower.
Harry Kane and Erling Haaland have both been linked with moves to the Etihad.