Pep Guardiola’s blueprints are just different to those the rest of us are reading from. The Manchester City boss sprung a tactical surprise of epic, eyebrow-raising and head-scratching proportions against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League last-16 first leg on Wednesday night.
Yet no matter how unorthodox City’s Sergio Aguero-less formation, with other star names thrust into alien roles, appeared to the untrained eye, Guardiola’s tactics were vindicated. The Citizens left the Santiago Bernabeu with a 2-1 win and a vital platform to ensure progress into the next round.
Real were soundly beaten because City managed to expose a creaking defence where 33-year-old Sergio Ramos has been allowed to remain the beating heart for too long. The skipper was sent off four minutes from time to complete a miserable night.
If Real have any hope of turning things around in the second leg at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday, March 17, it comes from the performance of Vinicius Junior. The 19-year-old Brazilian wowed the otherwise frustrated home fans with his pace and tricks, qualities City right-back Kyle Walker found less entertaining.
Speaking of a miserable night for Champions League royalty, Cristiano Ronaldo endured one to forget when Juventus lost 1-0 in Lyon. Denied decent serve from a totally outplayed midfield undermined by Miralem Pjanic’s drab performance, Ronaldo barely made a dent in the Lyon defence.
Real Madrid 1-2 Manchester City
Lyon 1-0 Juventus