The next week or so will be the biggest in Manchester City’s season, as they have a huge Premier League showdown with Liverpool on Sunday, and two legs against Atletico Madrid either side. City’s season will likely hinge on their results in their next three games, and Pep Guardiola’s side will be looking to lay down a marker for the big run with a win at the Etihad against Atletico.
Champions League Quarter-final Preview
It seems that the start of every European season brings with it new pressure on Guardiola to deliver the one trophy that has eluded Manchester City in their recent history. This term would have been no different, as the one trophy that the owners, as well as Guardiola, crave is the Champions League. They came ever so close to winning a first title last season, before being beaten by Chelsea in the final.
However, the mission this season will be to go one better. City have already looked superb throughout this Champions League season, as they eased through to the knockout rounds after overcoming a very tricky looking group on paper. They finished in top spot of Group A, above both PSG and RB Leipzig. Their performances against the Parisians were excellent, but they only managed to record one win, with that fixture coming at the Etihad.
Defensively they looked vulnerable throughout the group stages, as they allowed ten goals. However, they attacking threat was clear for all to see, as they fired in 18 goals. That attacking quality was once again the different in the first knockout round, as they effectively needed just one leg to get past Sporting Lisbon, City were extremely dominant in the away first leg on that occasion, as they wrapped up a comfortable 5-0 win in Portugal. Bernardo Silva scored twice, while further goals were added by Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez. A fairly uneventful 0-0 was played out in the return leg, but City will need to be much better for this huge first leg.
It has been an unusual season for Diego Simone and his Atletico side, as they no longer look to be the threatening side that they once were. Atletico edged through to the knockout round after finishing second in their group, but during that campaign, they were beaten on three occasions and managed to score just seven goals.
Their best performance in the competition so far this season came in the first leg of the round of 16 against Manchester United. Atletico could have been at least three goals up by half time in that fixture, but were wasteful in front of goal, with Joao Felix’s fine header being the only reward for their efforts. Ultimately they were denied a win when United levelled late in the game
However, they showed that they are still capable of big performances in the second leg at Old Trafford when Atletico used all their big-game experience to see out a 1-0 win against United. Their eventual match-winning goal was scored by Renan Lodi, but their ability to kill the game and any threat of United getting back into the fixture is exactly the skillset that they will need against such a talented City side on Tuesday evening.
Manchester City vs Atletico Madrid Head to Head
Atletico have slight doubts surrounding two of their stars, with both Hector Herrera and Jose Gimenez looking set to miss out. Meanwhile, Manchester City will be without a very important defender, as Ruben Dias remains on the sidelines with a hamstring issue.
Manchester City (4-3-3) Ederson, Cancelo, Ake, Stones, Laporte, De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan, Silva, Sterling, Foden
Atletico Madrid (3-1-4-2) Oblak, Savic, Hermoso, Madava, Kondogbia, Llorente, Lodi, De Paul, Koke, Griezmann, Felix
Manchester City vs Atletico Madrid Prediction
Atletico will be looking to make it an uncomfortable evening for City at the Etihad. However, this will be a much tougher assignment than their previous trip to Manchester. City can attack opposing sides in so many ways that it will be hard to see Atletico keeping them at bay for the entirety of the game. Therefore, I would expect City to take a comfortable 2-0 lead back to Madrid for the return game next week.