Champions League quarter finals second leg, April 14 2021
Mahrez (55 pen)
Manchester City progressed to the semi finals of the Champions League, where they will meet Paris Saint-Germain, after a professional victory over Borussia Dortmund. Recovering from a goal down, scored by the promising Jude Bellingham, they proceeded to score twice in the second half via Riyad Mahrez's penalty and a finish from the similarly promising Phil Foden, ensuring they won 4-2 on aggregate. "We were brilliant, except for the first 10 minutes where they were good," said City's respected manager Pep Guardiola. "I'm incredibly happy to be in the semi finals, to be one of the best four teams in Europe, to be against big, strong teams and we will try to be good." His opposite number Edin Terzic said: "The equaliser threw us off course. We wanted to keep the game as tight as possible, and we did that for a long time."
10 / 3
SHOTS / ON TARGET
16 / 8
Attacks into area
Expected goals (xG)
Borussia Dortmund were set up by their interim manager Edin Terzic into a 4-3-3 formation. Manchester City adopted that same shape, and from it they chose their moments to press, initially allowing Dortmund to play the ball across their defence.
If possession travelled further forwards, City deployed a mid-block and prioritised both screening play and forcing the ball wide. Kyle Walker and Oleksandr Zinchenko applied pressure to the ball when it travelled wide, and when it did, whichever of the two was on the far side of the pitch would then tuck infield to preserve their defensive compactness. Their midfield three, similarly, operated with a flatter line, and their front three also became more compact, but because Dortmund struggled to retain the ball in the attacking third and because of City's desire to counter, City rarely defended with increased numbers behind the ball.
It was a long ball that led to Dortmund taking the lead. Played from a deep position, it forced City to track backwards and their defenders to turn their backs on the attack; space around the edge of the area existed at the second phase of play, and when Jude Bellingham ran from a deep position he exploited it and provided the finishing touch.
Attempts to link directly from defence to attack were consistent; Dortmund's midfield then sought to influence the second phase. Haaland adjusted his body shape and positioning to swiftly move into midfield and receive possession from a central defender, and him doing so acted as a trigger for Bellingham to advance and receive the ball when it was set towards him by Haaland, and in turn to attempt to progress through City's midfield.
City scoring forced Dortmund to attack, but City's defensive screen consistently frustrated them during the second half. When they reached advanced territory Can was again influential in operating as a pivot and changing their point of attack, but there also consistently existed the risk of City countering.
Manchester City were organised by their manager Pep Guardiola into a 4-3-3 formation led, on this occasion, by Kevin De Bruyne. Their opponents, Dortmund, defended with a 4-5-1 that kept numbers behind the ball and prioritised defending the width of the penalty area, and also attempted to apply an intense press into City's defensive third.
The lengthier periods for which City retained possession meant them regularly dictating the tempo of play. Dortmund's reluctance to press the ball in the central areas of the pitch encouraged City to play across the pitch, and they did so with a sense of patience that meant them waiting for the correct moment to play forwards into space.
When regains were made as Dortmund attacked and therefore had numbers forwards, City countered with speed to capitalise on the spaces they had vacated. There were also occasions when their front three would rotate, as dictated by the whereabouts of the ball. The influential De Bruyne regularly withdrew into midfield to contribute when attacks were being built, and his movements created space for Gündogan and Bernardo Silva to advance into.
Author: Tony Hodson