CHRIS SUTTON: Manchester City must not repeat their first-leg blunders against Real Madrid – their defenders have to be alert and not give away gifts to reach the Champions League final
- Manchester City beat Real Madrid 4-3 in their Champions League semi first leg
- City made defensive errors for all three of Real’s goals to let them into the tie
- And Pep Guardiola’s side were wasteful in front of goal, despite scoring four
You can buy Defending For Dummies in paperback online, but we have to hope Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti didn’t add a copy to their baskets this week.
The first-leg clash between Manchester City and Real Madrid was thrilling, in part because of the defensive naivety on show.
The neutrals among us want to see more of the same tonight – two awesome attacking sides going head-to-head.
Manchester City need to cut out their defensive mistakes if they are to beat Real Madrid
Aymeric Laporte (centre) needlessly handled the ball to gift Real a penalty in the semi first leg
That isn’t what Guardiola needs, mind. He wants City to be safer, less chaotic and more comfortable. He doesn’t want a classic, he wants a routine win. For that to happen, City cannot be as generous as they were last week.
We could dissect all three of the goals they conceded and find faults. For Real’s first, Oleksandr Zinchenko was ever so slightly late getting goalside and not close enough to stop Karim Benzema wrapping his foot around the ball.
For Real’s second, Vinicius Junior had Fernandinho on toast. The 36-year-old Brazilian was sold a dummy as Vinicius got behind him, before charging forward to score.
Aymeric Laporte didn’t cover himself in glory, either. Preoccupied with Benzema, he failed to come across to close down Vinicius. For Real’s third, Laporte leapt with his arm in the air, handling the ball and giving the Spaniards a route back from the spot.
Guardiola will have hated seeing those three goals go in. He will want his defenders to make sounder decisions this evening. They have to be alert and not give any gifts.
City boss Pep Guardiola will hope he doesn’t cut a frustrated figure throughout the second leg
It sounds strange to say City will have been disappointed with scoring four goals against a team like Real Madrid, but Guardiola will know they could have bagged seven.
Riyad Mahrez hit the side netting when he should have squared to Kevin De Bruyne or Phil Foden. That’s five.
Foden dragged a shot wide instead of finding the bottom corner. That’s six. Mahrez hit a post and Foden’s follow-up struck the man on the line. That’s seven. We could mention more, too.
Riyad Mahrez (left) watches on as his strike hits the post in another missed opportunity for City
Guardiola gets grumpy when he’s accused of overthinking, as he was after failing to start a defensive midfielder in last year’s Champions League final against Chelsea.
For him to suddenly turn ultra-defensive to protect City’s slender lead would only give his critics ammunition. It risks backfiring, too, given Real have a great goalscorer in Benzema. So I’d be amazed if Guardiola does that. He’ll want City to play their own way but take their chances.
My gut tells me City will win. Ancelotti’s Real have to show their hand. They must be more aggressive and that might suit City, who can tear their opponents to shreds.
Carlo Ancelotti must go on the attack with his Real side, leaving space for City to exploit
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