To nobody’s surprise, Atletico Madrid played a very defensive game at the Etihad Stadium in the opening leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie with Manchester City last week.
The Spanish champions appeared to be a playing a 5-5-0 through most of the game, giving the hosts no gaps in behind until Phil Foden set up Kevin De Bruyne for the opener late on.
Speaking ahead of the second-leg in Madrid on Wednesday evening, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola revealed how the return leg at the Wanda Metropolitano will differ from his side’s narrow victory over Diego Simeone’s men last week.
“It will be a different game, not like last week. They (Atletico) at home with their fans behind them,” Guardiola said in his pre-match press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
“From what I remember from knockout games they (Atletico) have – really exciting moments in the (Vicente) Calderon, at the Wanda (Metropolitano) – they create problems, defend and counter.
“They (Atletico) will be more intense in the top half of the field than they were the other night. We adapt and if we’re losing we go with everything to get it back. If we’re on top maybe we sit a bit deeper.
“We have to play our game, what we have done these years. Always need 11 in knockout stages, focus on our game-plan. Win this game, help the other guys.”
“The message isn’t going to be about that, focus on the plan, what they (Atletico) do as a team, when to be careful.
“How to defend areas, what to do in certain areas, how to hurt them. Control the transitions they will do. All the stuff we prepared. Do it as well as possible.”
The decisive second-leg comes after City’s breathless 2-2 draw with Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday, with the Blues set to face Jurgen Klopp’s men in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Saturday.
Guardiola added: “In that period, we are close to the end of the season. We have to be grateful to be here.
“I would like to have more time to prepare but it’s because we’ve done really well so far.
“In that moment we aren’t tired, we are so close to the (Champions League) semi-finals, we can lose because we make a bad performance or the opponent is better, but we are not tired.”
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