- Dillon Meehan
Review and Player Ratings as supremely clinical City take advantage to Munich – Man City 3-0 Bayern
Despite a lot of talk about former Manchester City players making their return to the Etihad, the Blues made easy work of Bayern Munich in the end, winning the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie 3-0.
Ruben Dias was the standout performer of the night, with the 25-year-old showcasing why he will soon become City’s captain for the foreseeable future.
Pep Guardiola once again opted for control during a Champions League knockout tie.
Ederson started in goal, with Manuel Akanji, John Stones, Dias, and Nathan Ake defending him. Rodri, Ilkay Gundogan, and Kevin De Bruyne manned the midfield, with Jack Grealish, Erling Haaland and Bernardo Silva serving as the attacking trio.
Despite there being a lot of discussions around Joao Cancelo and his role in this Bayern side, the Portuguese fullback was once again benched for a key match. However, Leroy Sane was given the nod against his former side.
Like most games for City, the opening minutes were a little cagey. Bayern started the match off with a high press, and when combined with a particularly nasty batch of Manchester rain and wind, it was difficult for City to play through the back.
Despite a few nervy moments early on, City settled down and began to impose themselves.
Just 15 minutes into the match, the Premier League champions were nearly gifted a goal. A dangerous back pass by Joshua Kimmich put Yann Sommer under a lot of pressure from Haaland, who was just inches away from deflecting his desperate pass into a wide-open net.
Only a few minutes later in the 22nd minute, another Bayern turnover allowed Gundogan to find Grealish at the top of the box. The 27-year-old found Haaland open on the left side of the box – however, the Norwegian elected to take the shot first time and sent it directly at Sommer.
It was yet another sign of how City had grown into the game and were consistently a threat.
It wasn’t much longer until the moment finally came.
City had spent most of the early parts of the first half working the ball wide to Bernardo Silva, who would dribble down the right sideline until a second defender was forced to commit.
In the 26th minute, Bernardo found Rodri with a few yards of space about 25 yards out. Jamal Musiala attempted to tackle the Spaniard, but the former Atletico Madrid midfielder cut back and gave himself a few yards of space to launch a curling effort with his weak foot past a diving Sommer. It was an exquisite, well-deserved goal.
Bayern had a few opportunities in the first half to get a shot on target, but the defensive pairing of Dias and Stones once again made life difficult for elite attackers. It was a similar performance to the one against PSG just two years prior, where the two locked down the net in terrible weather to secure a victory.
City had a perfect opportunity to double their lead in the 34th minute. A deflected cross put Sommer in an awkward position and caused the Swiss keeper off his line. Grealish and Sommer collided mid-air, causing a loose ball that perfectly fell to Gundogan’s foot. But the German’s effort on goal was instinctively saved to keep the score 1-0.
Leroy Sane attempted a long-range effort with one of the final kicks of the first half. His 30-yard screamer caused Ederson to dive, but the knuckling shot was just a yard wide.
At the end of the first half, Bayern had failed to land a shot on target in a Champions League half for just the fifth time in the last seven years.
Despite a torrid first-half performance, Bayern responded in the second half.
With the wind playing such a heavy factor, Sane attempted a few long-range efforts, hoping to get the better of Ederson. While the Brazilian goalkeeper struggled at times this season, this was one of his best performances.
Bayern’s best chance came early in the second half when a header from Matthijs de Ligt was on goal, but a jumping Ake inadvertently cleared it away.
However, City responded. On the following Poseidon Grealish’s no-look pass gave Ake a few yards of space to take a near-post effort that was parried away for a corner.
De Bruyne elected to take the corner to Grealish, who fed it back to De Bruyne, who lifted a cross to the opposite side of the box.
In the 68th minute, Julian Alvarez came on to replace De Bruyne; the substitution was made after the Belgian had looked a little hobbled after slipping a few minutes earlier, although Guardiola has since stated that the decision was tactical in an attempt to play with more energy – something the Argentine did provide.
In the following minute, Sadie Mane was brought on for Musiala.
Immediately following the substitution, disaster struck for Bayern. Dayot Upemecano once again was careless with the ball and turned it over to Grealish, who fed a charging Haaland, who drew two defenders in – and instead of taking a shot from a poor angle – the Norwegian lofted a ball to the opposite six-yard box for an easy header by Bernardo Silva.
Despite looking as though momentum was beginning to build for the German champions, in just a few short moments they had seen their deficit double.
After the second goal, City refused to take their foot off the gas. They continued to press and forced Upemecano to continuously turn the ball over. Alvarez had a golden opportunity to extend the lead to three, but his low-driven shot was sent out for a corner by Sommer.
But City didn’t need to wait long for the third. Following the corner, Bayern’s clearance fell to the feet of Alvarez, who lofted a ball to Stones at the edge of the six-yard box. Instead of attempting a shot on goal, the Englishman headed it across goal to a wide-open Haaland for a tap-in to make it 3-0.
Guardiola’s side will take a three-goal advantage to Munich as they look to close out the tie and earn their third successive semi-final appearance in the Champions League.
Man of the Match
The return of Ruben Dias has been nothing short of season-defining for City. His leadership and shot blocking led City to a Champions League final two years ago, and it appears as though City may be on their way to a treble this year. He made last-ditch tackles and blocks look easy tonight. Currently the best defender in the world, no doubt about it.
Ederson - 9
Akanji - 8
Stones - 9
Dias - 10
Ake - 9
Rodri - 9
Gundogan - 8
De Bruyne - 8
Haaland - 9
Grealish - 9
Substitutes: Alvarez - 7
Written by: @IVIeehan
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