City v Gladbach second leg – 16/3/21
Manchester City 2-0 Mönchengladbach
Manchester City’s away leg against Mönchengladbach was 5 games ago now, but tonight the blues traveled again to the City-blue-illuminated Puskas Arena in Hungary in an effort to secure their spot in the last 8, in a competition that Pep Guardiola’s men will be desperate to go far in after years of hurt. In this article I will highlight what went well for the blues, and what didn’t, on this huge day in Budapest.
City lined up in what I would describe as our best 11, featuring a lack of a ‘Proper striker’ but still a wealth of attacking firepower:
With Cancelo doing what he so famously now does at fullback, attackers playing 5 different positions in this new Pep masterpiece of a formation that has lost just 1 game in 23, City would be hoping to extend/defend their lead from the first leg.
Tactically, it was anyone’s guess what positions those last 4 names would be playing, but that’s just what you get with the Catalan.
Phil Fohlen lined up in a very familiar fashion to those who watch them with a team very similar to the first leg, although they cannot afford to ‘Park the bus’ tonight, needing a minimum of 2 goals to send the tie to extra time.
With the tie not entirely out of reach for Gladbach, the game kicked off!
First half analysis: Manchester City went in at the break at 2-0 up on the night, 4-0 up on aggregate thanks to 2 wonderful goals. One of which was a moment of individual brilliance by Kevin De Bruyne, the other, a great team goal finished off by Gündogan, after a dazzling run from the Stockport Iniesta, Phil Foden!
City expected a very different style from Foden, and a different style they got! Gladbach came out and were far more adventurous than in the first leg, as you would expect, but even the small things like goal kicks, in the first leg the Gladbach attackers were 30-40 yards away from goal from what I remember, but today they set the initiative with 3 attackers (namely Stindl, Embolo and Thuram) right on the edge of the City penalty area. The blues are very good at playing against this sort of style, IF, and that’s a big if, they are in full flow, which tonight they were, and just completely played through them. Positionally fluid, defensively solid, the perfect first half.
Second half: Not much more to add, but what a team City are! Total dominance from start to finish. If anything the score line flattered Mönchengladbach! Now onto the controversy… player ratings.
Ederson – 8
Solid showing from Ederson tonight, cracking passing range as usual, typical of him, there’s not much more you can say about him today! No mistakes whatsoever.
Walker – 7
Not extraordinary from Walker today but no real mistakes, up and down the right hand side with a bit of ‘invertedness’ here and there. Tactically solid without and footballing mistakes!
Dias – 8
Class. He’s changed the team completely and is City’s most important player, no mistakes and some wonderful passes embedded throughout, which is all you can ask of a defender, 8.
Stones – 8.5
Confident. Secure. Progressive. Cracking game from Stones tonight next to Dias and then later on Laporte, showed what he can really do and proved that he can do it consistently over the last couple of months, a real redemption ark under Pep Guardiola
Cancelo – 9
Right back/holding midfield extraordinaire João Cancelo was well and truly at it again tonight, a positional masterclass which not even he will truly understand, he was EVERYWHERE tonight. Could he be my MOTM?
Rodri – 8.5
Another wonderful performance from a defensive player from Rodri, securing the midfield, breaking up play and starting attacks. Did his job perfectly and sent the blues through the last 8!
De Bruyne – 8
KDB looked back to his normal self today, playing multiple positions as players have to do in this formation and playing very progressively when possible! He looked like he enjoyed himself today, and gets a bonus .5 for *that* goal.
Foden – 7.5
Stockport Iniesta?! Catalan Foden. Not an unbelievable performance from Foden but he certainly shone to a certain extent including his sublime assist for Ilkay Gündogan’s goal! The sky is the limit for PF47.
Gündogan – 8
‘Mr Whippy’ is back! Lovely finish for his goal today and some good all round play, really shining in Pep’s new system in which he is a key part! Penetrative runs and dictating the tempo, what more can you ask?
Mahrez – 8.5
Lots of high ratings today but Mahrez earned it! So silky on the ball, got an assist, retained the ball well and offered the creativity which led to a comprehensive win for City! He’s on great form and today was no different for the Algerian.
Bernardo – 7
Bernardo isn’t the type of player to steal the show and today was no different. His main role is to press, and press, and press, and press he did! I haven’t seen the statistics but I’m sure he was right up there on the running charts, which ultimately is what you need for a good second leg performance to defend a lead.
A very good win for the blues today! How far can they go? Will they win the quadruple? We soon will see.