Pep Guardiola was visibly drained after watching his Manchester City side eke out a 1-1 draw away to Champions League holders Real Madrid in the first leg of their semi-final in the competition on Tuesday, stating that his team need to learn to ‘defend better and attack better’.
Kevin De Bruyne cancelled out Vinicius Junior’s spectacular opening goal with a devastating blast of his own midway through the second half. City started on top but Eduardo Camavinga breezed through the visitors’ press before laying the ball off for Vinicius’ scorcher.
After a minimalistic opening 45 minutes, Madrid became more expansive after the break, stroking the ball around only for De Bruyne to pierce the hosts’ ascendancy. Both teams reconvene for the second leg at the Etihad on Wednesday 17 May.
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Guardiola succinctly summed up the contest with one line when speaking to BT Sport: “When we were better they score, when they were better we score.”
The breathless Catalan coach continued: “It was a tight, tight game, Bernabeu semi-final is always difficult. We had good moments but sometimes it was difficult with the quality they have with the ball. But yeah, 1-1, it’s a final next Wednesday with our people next week.”
“We start really well in the second half as well,” Guardiola insisted. “Five, ten minutes, then after they got the game, we could not take it. They make a lot of passes, they put a lot of players on the left side, they are really, really good there. But after we make a fantastic goal from Kevin and we had some good moments. Then at the end they also have a few chances. It was a tight, tight game.”
Carlo Ancelotti’s side have struggled to stick with Barcelona in the race for La Liga but remain a force to be reckoned with in the competition that Real Madrid have won a record 14 times. “it is so demanding,” Guardiola gushed.
“TThey are so good, they have experience and quality. But now we travel to Manchester and we will see what we can do better. We you play these kinds of games it’s like a playoff, so the second [leg] you learn a lot from the first, hopefully we can learn to defend better and attack better.”
Outside of a handful of fleeting sights of goal in the first half, Erling Haaland was kept on the peripheries of the contest. Guardiola explained how Madrid muzzled the forward with 51 goals to his name this season. “The distance between the central defenders and the full-backs was occupied for attacking midfielders, for [Luka] Modric, for Toni Kroos, for [Fede] Valverde. So there was a twin central defender close to Erling, it was not easy for him.”
On this edition of Talking Transfers, part of the 90min podcast network, Scott Saunders, Graeme Bailey & Toby Cudworth discuss the possibility of Neymar joining Newcastle, Jude Bellingham’s decision on his future and Lionel Messi leaving PSG.
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