Atletico Madrid vs Man City result: Champions League score, goals and report



Manchester City do enough, Atletico Madrid don’t do much at all bar turning a football match into a prize fight.

That may come at greater cost to Pep Guardiola given this 0-0 saw both Kyle Walker and Kevin De Bruyne depart injured, but it’s difficult to see the value to Diego Simeone.

A game that finally looked like it was building up to some kind of grandstand finish was instead reduced to a brawl, as the Spanish champions were also reduced to 10 men. Atletico actively undermined their own chance of qualification through their constant attempts to undermine the opposition by going over the top.

It was Felipe who set the tone early on, and he who was eventually sent off in the game’s chaotic closing stages.

The fable of the scorpion and the frog has rarely been more apt. This is just Atletico’s nature. Guardiola has changed the character of City, though. This brought a second successive Champions League semi-final for the first time in history.

They have rarely been so rattled under the Catalan. That should be the greater frustration for Atletico. They were getting to City, and causing panic – particularly in that admittedly absorbing finale.

It initially seemed like Atletico were going to be much more aggressive than in the first leg, but that actually only applied to challenges.

(REUTERS)

The gameplan quickly became clear, and it was not to attack more. They only managed their first shot of the tie near the end of its third period of football, and that was a wild shot from Geoffrey Kondogbia.

One admittedly good spell of pressure at the start of the second half then simply ended with a centre-half just launching it over the top, but out of play.

Rather than forcing the issue themselves, Simeone’s side were much more concerned with forcing City out of their rhythm. That was signaled with that abrasive challenge from Felipe on Phil Foden, who was so obviously being targeted. Joao Felix soon after left one in on Joao Cancelo.

The idea was clearly to physically intimidate City to the point they didn’t play their natural game, and then try and nick something. It was, when Atletico finally tried to score, it felt very self-defeating to be still trying to get into Foden. The attacker exaggerating contact in that kind of circumstance is a bit understandable, a situation that eventually saw Felipe sent off.

Pep Guardiola himself was getting very animated about this, but some might believe there’s a certain hypocrisy about that given how much the English champions have leant on “tactical fouling” over the last few years. No one was as guilty of that as the man who dominated all the headlines on the day before, the outgoing Fernandinho.

It’s just that he could have done with more of his abrasiveness here, as Atletico were really taking “tactical fouling” to the next level. It was fouling as a tactic. It was no surprise he was eventually brought on, at a point when City did need to step up.

(PA)

There were times when they couldn’t get close enough to City to even do that, though. One was when Riyad Mahrez played a divine Luka Modric-like outside-of-the-football ball for Kyle Walker to run onto, the ball eventually falling to Ilkay Gundogan. He hit the post, then lunged for a header, but Atletico somehow survived.

Foden had supplied the final pass before the shot, but it felt a little more uncertain than in the first leg. He was clearly affected by some of the treatment.

It showed some effect on the tie, despite the total lack of adventure. Atletico’s approach being so close it was uncomfortable for City’s players meant the score remained too close for comfort for Guardiola.

An edge developed, an angst about every attack.

Unappealing as Atletico were, they had at least ensured this was City’s poorest performance for some time.

Their passing was so poor, and became worse when De Bruyne eventually went off, looking downbeat as he nursed his ankle with ice. Walker soon followed.

The spell coincided with Atletico’s first real half-chances, both Rodrigo De Paul and Joao Felix going close. They might even have had a penalty, as Cancelo seemed to miss the ball and kick Angel Correa.

The game remained in balance. It was at least set up for a dramatic finish. Even a character with so much English history, in Luis Suarez, was brought on.

The crowd began to sing the famous Atletico chorus.

It was all there.

So what happened? Rather than the grand finish, and actually trying to get that goal, there was only a great brawl.

A brawl breaks out late in the game

(Getty Images)

Phil Foden celebrates at the final whistle

(Reuters)

It all came falling down. It was impossible not to wonder what they could have done had they attacked with more intensity earlier on. They caused City more problems than Liverpool at the weekend.

They instead just set up a potential Champions League final with Liverpool.

City stay on course, although it was a rare case of opposition defeating themselves rather than Guardiola’s side winning.


www.independent.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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