To kick off the quarter-finals of the Champions League, a clash of styles was on the program at the Etihad Stadium. Unhappy finalist last season, Manchester City received Atlético de Madrid from Diego Simeone. After taking out the Red Devils in the previous round, the Colchoneros intended to do the same with the Citizens. At kick-off, no big surprises, except Pep Guardiola’s choice to leave Phil Foden on the sidelines. Unsurprisingly, the Mancunians quickly took control of the ball. Organized in a 4-3-3 with their famous false nine, Guardiola’s men faced, again unsurprisingly, a low and compact Madrid block. To try to find the fault, the Skyblues had a very specific tactic: reverse the game on each side and center. Cornered, the Rojiblancos then cashed a wave of crosses and corners. Each time, a foot or a Madrid header came to counter the English designs, but Atlético was already in apnea even before the quarter of an hour of play (less than 30% possession of the ball). But suffering is part of the DNA of Atlético de Simeone. Antoine Griezmann and João Félix, caught in the pincers, had nothing to put in their mouths while Atlético had quickly reorganized with a line of five in defense and another of five in the middle. A true attack-defense game. At the break, the show was not there, but El Cholo held his bet. His team was heckled, but they did not break and City, who were content to cross, did not target any shots.
When they returned from the locker room, everyone was still wondering if the Madrid wall would manage to hold out until the end. In the 47th minute, Ilkay Gündogan sent a shiver through the opposing defense, but his curling right was deflected for a corner. Eight minutes later, it was Kevin De Bruyne who allowed Jan Oblak to make his first big save of the match from a free kick (55th). Always forced to run after the leather, Atlético however began to commit more and more faults. On the hour mark, Simeone then decided to make a triple change. Koke, Griezmann and Llorente gave way to De Paul, Correa and Cunha. Not enough to change the physiognomy of the match. City also got another goal opportunity from a corner, but Aymeric Laporte’s header was off target (63rd). To force the colchonero lock, Pep Guardiola had the luxury of completely changing his line of attack and bringing Grealish, Foden and Gabriel Jesus into play. Coaching paid off since two minutes later, Foden was able to fix three Madridistas before launching De Bruyne into the opposing area. The Belgian did not hesitate to crucify Oblak with an unstoppable cross shot (1-0, 70th). Scorer for the first of the season in the Champions League, KDB unlocked his counter at the best time. On a new festival from Foden on the right side, De Bruyne could have doubled the bet, but his attempt was saved on his line by Savic (80th). In the end, the essential is there for the Mancunians. Opposed to a real wall, the Citizens knew how to take the advantage. Only negative point for Guardiola, the suspension of Gabriel Jesus, stupidly warned in the 85th minute. For their part, the Colchoneros are far from being eliminated, but they will have to offer a completely different face to the Wanda Metropolitano next week.
Relive the film of the match