Manchester City beat Atletico Madrid 1-0 and Liverpool beat Benfica 3-1 in Portugal to begin the Champions League semi-finals. It was not easy for both of them, but the Premier League teams showed their dominance and came half a step closer to clashing in another Premier League final.
City struggled in the first half against Atletico Madrid, leaving all 11 players behind to save their lives. But Pep Guardiola seemed to be expecting a tough fight, which is why he left Phil Foden on the bench to start the draw. Foden opened the scoring in the 68th minute when Kevin de Bruyne’s game-winning goal led to his assist.
Diego Simeone was happy that City had conceded just two of their 15 shots in a game where Jose Gimenez was unavailable, but the lack of productivity in the Athlete’s attack was disappointing. They had only 30 percent in their possession, but the lack of an official shot in the first quarter is cause for concern. Can Simeone’s team score without conceding at home?
Joao Felix and Renan Lodi started counters consistently from their own half without support. Atletico’s forwards have been central midfielders for most of the match. Most notably, as a team, Atletico Madrid tested 21 passes in the last three of the pitch. Five starters for Manchester City put more effort into bringing Atletico’s entire team together. Even Foden made 11 runs in 22 minutes. Parking a bus is one thing, but building a motionless wall like Simeoni did is another. When that wall admits to a leak, this is not a good day in the office.
Liverpool, who beat Lisbon 3-1 on Tuesday, are in the driver’s seat of the tie with SL Benfica in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. However, Jurgen Klopp’s men made it difficult by allowing their Portuguese hosts to return to the game after leading by two goals at half-time.
Goals from Ibrahim Conte and Sadio Mane controlled the Reds 2-0, but Darwin Nunes allowed a deficit in the second half to cut the deficit in half, before Benfica equalized. Ultimately, they could not get a second, and Liverpool and Liverpool provided an extra one for defense, with former FC Porto man Luis Diaz scoring against his former rivals.
Benfica’s defense conceded two goals in the first half, but it was not as tight as the teams’ heroic second quarter against Ajax suggested. Nunes’ goal keeps them in this draw, albeit with difficulty, they must work hard to score against Anfield if they are to have a chance. Nelson Verisimo’s people may be upset that they did not pull the trigger after getting one back because they were rejected multiple times.
Of all the players on the Liverpool team known to Benfica, Luis Diaz left Portugal in January and was still there. However, he provided direct assists and self-goals from where he left off against the Lisbon giants, which was enough to seal the Reds’ semi-final berth already. Benfica fans have certainly not forgotten about Diaz, who threw a stick after his decisive goal.
The fall from behind Liverpool, who pushed Benfica inside through the Connaught, is not enough to indicate that Klopp’s side have major shortcomings, but they need to avoid it if they want to go all the way. The Reds also seemed a bit hesitant after the hosts withdrew an extraordinary one in view of their excellent collective experience. Ultimately the statistics do not tell the picture of a next match, with Liverpool’s 3-1 backed up by a 17-9 shot edge, and the expected goals are a reasonable reflection of the match if they are to be believed to be 3.10 to 1.04. , But about 10 minutes later, when Nunes scored, Liverpool’s three substitutes Roberto Firmino, Diego Jotta and Jordan Henderson entered the game and stabilized the offense, but the result seemed to really hang in the balance.
For the most part of the match it is understandable why Atletico Madrid built a wall and hid behind it, especially now that away goals do not matter, and there are not many days when the City counter is as weak as it was on Tuesday. Within minutes of the match, Marcos Laurente defeated Nathan Ake, and Simeone felt his goal was to turn center center left and torture for 90 minutes. Then the counters stopped. Instead, Joao Felix, who takes four City players at a time, was left with the task of scoring. He was left alone again and again to lose the ball as no one was behind to help him.
Being a little more aggressive in such situations may have led Atletico to give in earlier, but again they agreed anyway. Manchester City should get the credit for eliminating the game, not only to create their own chances, but also to use the passing to deny athletic transition opportunities, but they did not have much opposition.