Manchester City 1-0 Atletico Madrid
Before their Champions League quarter-final with Atletico Madrid, Pep Guardiola was asked about his tendency to overthink Champions League matches, a question which he laughed off. Following their 1-0 victory over Atletico Madrid, it remains a matter of interpretation.
The match quickly settled into the expected pattern, as City dominated the ball and probed the Atletico Madrid defence in search of holes. To their credit, Atletico Madrid shut down most avenues of progress in the first half and on the whole, during most of the match. At times they had all 11 men behind the ball – counter-attacks were scaffolded together quickly but rarely reached the City goal.
“I made the run and Phil found me perfectly.”
“They played five at the back and five in midfield, it’s very hard to find the spaces!”
Kevin De Bruyne was Man of the Match as City’s patience paid off vs Atletico…#UCL | ? @TheDesKelly pic.twitter.com/wypa5J3c8x
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 5, 2022
The first half ended without major incident and the second half followed the same pattern, although both sides played with a little more urgency. The entrance of Matheus Cunha for Atletico Madrid was evidence of that as Diego Simeone sought a clearer outlet. It was Guardiola’s change which made the difference though.
Just two minutes it took for Phil Foden to slide a pass through the legs on the edge of the box to Kevin de Bruyne, who slotted home with ease. Depending on your interpretation, it was either a genius substitution or an oversight not to start Foden.
He was the most dangerous player on the pitch after that and was responsible for two of only three chances of quality throughout the entire match. Aymeric Laporte’s header sailed over from a corner and Stefan Savic blocked Gabriel Jesus shot thereafter.
Much was made of the fact that Atleti failed to shoot in the entire match, a show of how far their attacks and their ambition went. Yet City themselves managed just two efforts on target, the first 55 minutes in.
The de Bruyne goal gives City a narrow advantage to take to Madrid and a result they may well have taken before. Just as Guardiola…