Atletico face tough task to crack Man City

Atletico Madrid will be looking to overturn a 1-0 deficit when Manchester City make the journey to the Wanda Metropolitano for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final this evening.

A Kevin De Bruyne strike put Pep Guardiola’s men in control at the Etihad, and a semi-final with either Real Madrid or Chelsea now awaits the victor of the two-legged tie.

Irking City players and fans alike with their apparent 5-5-0 formation, the game plan from Diego Simeone was simple – prevent Man City running away with the tie in the first leg before attempting to come up with the goods in front of their own fans.

Such an approach very nearly paid dividends on the night, but the introduction of Phil Foden sparked new life into Man City, with the young England international threading a pass through for De Bruyne to slot home past Jan Oblak on the 70-minute mark.

A 1-0 deficit means that the tie is far from done and dusted, but the reigning La Liga champions have experienced another blow to their momentum since the Etihad defeat – going down 1-0 to Mallorca in Saturday’s La Liga clash after previously winning six on the bounce in all competitions.

In order to turn the tie around at the Wanda Metropolitano and seek a place in the semi-finals for the first time since 2016-17, Atletico must firstly attempt a shot on goal – which they did not do across the entire 90 minutes at the Etihad – although they have made it through on two of the past three occasions that they have lost the first leg.

Returning to home comforts at the Wanda Metropolitano also spells optimism for Atletico, who have won each of their last three in the league there, but not since October 2020 have Simeone’s side won a Champions League match at home – drawing four and losing three since.

The less said about Atletico’s futile attempts to defend their La Liga crown the better, but the Premier League title is now firmly in Man City’s hands for the remainder of the season after a 2-2 draw with Liverpool which certainly lived up to the pre-game hype.

A non-stop first half saw De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus strike for the champions either side of Diogo Jota’s response, but after failing to take advantage of Liverpool’s high line before the break, Jurgen Klopp’s side immediately responded in the second period through Sadio Mane.

Despite failing to kill the game off in the opening periods, the 2020-21 English top-flight title will be theirs as long as they do not drop any more points between now and the finale, but there is also the small matter of an FA Cup semi-final with the Reds and potential Champions League final with the Merseyside counterparts to contend with.

Klopp and Guardiola will likely be sick of the sight of one another by the summer, but for now, City must focus on the task at hand against Atletico for what will be their 100th game in the Champions League, and they are now unbeaten in nine across all tournaments.

A wholly impressive away streak has also seen Guardiola’s side string together a 12-game unbeaten run on rival turf – winning 10 of them – while they have also conceded just one goal in their last 630 minutes of domestic and continental action on the road. – SportsMole

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