Manchester Metropolis and Pep Guardiola are into the Champions League quarter-finals and this time, possibly they are going to lastly go one step additional. They may even go all the best way, on this proof, however that may require them to beat far higher obstacles than a Borussia Monchengladbach aspect who had been crushed with a lot to spare.
Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan’s targets on the impartial turf of Budapest’s Puskas Enviornment settled the tie contained in the opening 18 minutes, establishing a wholesome 4-0 lead on mixture to make sure that Metropolis can be in Friday’s draw for the final eight, the stage at which they’ve been eradicated in every of the final three seasons.
Development was by no means unsure. Metropolis’s ‘away’ targets on the identical floor three weeks in the past gave Gladbach a mountain to climb. They didn’t even attain base camp. The out-of-sorts Bundesliga aspect got here into this on a run of six straight defeats, which coincided completely with the information that head coach Marco Rose will be a part of Borussia Dortmund subsequent season.
Rose is certainly one of European soccer’s brightest teaching skills however he admitted that it will be “greater than extraordinary” if he managed to mastermind a turnaround in opposition to a Guardiola aspect taking part in “whole soccer”. He was proper. From entrance to again, Metropolis’s management over this tie was absolute. It’s now 11 hours and 36 minutes since they final conceded on this competitors.
Can anybody cease them from right here? We have now requested that earlier than, in equity. Liverpool and Tottenham denied Guardiola’s two equally imperious and Premier League title-winning sides, whereas Olympique Lyonnais had been Metropolis’s conquerors final 12 months when it appeared as if the draw had opened up for them.
But after they cut back a two-legged tie in opposition to a proficient if out-of-sorts aspect like Gladbach to a mere formality, it’s straightforward to see why they’re thought of the favourites. And in any case, if their latest historical past on this competitors underneath Guardiola has taught us something, it’s that they’re their very own biggest enemies.
There was not one of the regular knock-out stage self-sabotage or over-thinking in Guardiola’s beginning line-up however, for the third consecutive recreation, there was no Raheem Sterling both. Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus joined him among the many substitutes with a fluid entrance three of Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden taking turns within the false 9 position.
Such is the expertise at Guardiola’s disposal that each mixture is a menacing proposition and it didn’t take lengthy for Metropolis to determine their superiority. De Bruyne has suffered one thing of an underwhelming goal-scoring season till two in opposition to Southampton every week in the past. His breakthrough right here was simply the best of the six he has scored in all competitions this time period.
After exquisitely spinning away from Gladbach’s captain Lars Stindl, Mahrez picked his head up and squared the ball throughout the sting of the penalty space to De Bruyne. It was travelling onto his left, his unnatural aspect, however that didn’t diminish the facility or authority of the strike, which rose out of goalkeeper Yann Sommer’s attain earlier than crashing into the highest left-hand off the underside of the crossbar.
It’s scary to assume how rather more harmful Metropolis could be in these closing months of the season now that De Bruyne is scoring once more. Guardiola already has so many routes to objective, so many skills able to conjuring one thing out of nothing. But if the primary of the evening was an instance of Metropolis’s brute pressure, the second showcased their creative majesty and technical incision.
Foden continues to thrill. Taking a John Stones go on the flip inside his personal half, he simply spun away from a sliding deal with by Florian Neuhaus. The Gladbach midfielder held out his palms in exasperation as he watched Foden glide away from two of his team-mates then slip a chic go via the defensive position for Gundogan to select up contained in the penalty space. A primary-time, side-footed end beat Sommer.
Guardiola smiled and held a thumbs up on the touchline. This was already over as a contest and he knew it, with the remaining 70 minutes performed at a leisurely tempo. Gundogan, Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo and others deserving of a relaxation had been changed. Guardiola wanted no invitation to make use of all 5 permitted substitutions and save his gamers’ legs for higher challenges to return. It’s time to take that subsequent step.