From The Guardian World:
19 min Mauricio Pochettino has just called Danny Rose over to give him some tactical advice, presumably along the lines of, “IF YOU LOT DON’T START DEFENDING PROPERLY I’LL STICK MY SHINY SHOE RIGHT YOU UP YOUR NEW STADIUM!”
18 min A surging run from Walker ends when he is chopped by Wanyama, 25 yards from goal. It’s a fair way to the right of centre, so you’d expect De Bruyne to cross rather than shoot. At least you would in a normal football match. In fact it’s taken by David Silva, who curls a fairly tame effort onto the roof of the net. Lloris had it covered.
17 min “This U-10 game is very entertaining,” says Rai Skrupskis. “When do the men’s teams start?”
To be fair, two of the goals – Sterling’s and Son’s second – were great, although it’s also true that all four goals were brought to you in association with shite defending.
16 min So, those away goals from Son have taken extra-time out of the equation. City now need to win by two goals or they will be out. A jaunty 9-7 victory should do it.
14 min This is absurd. City are already playing like there are two minutes remaining and they need a goal to save all humanity from extinction. The pace is astonishing.
12 min “Defending is overrated,” says Ruth Purdue. “Let’s go for a cricket score.”
2-2 is a cricket score, at least when England are playing Test cricket.
City are level on the night and only need two more goals to go through. Aguero played a good pass to release Bernardo Silva on the right side of the box. He tried to guide a left-footed shot into the far corner, and it took a huge deflection off Rose before bobbling miserably past Lloris at the near post.
GOAL! Manchester City 2-2 Spurs (B Silva 11)
What the hell is this?
It’s another brilliant goal! Laporte overran the ball on the halfway line – an egregious error – and was robbed by Moura. He charged forward and found Eriksen, who moved the ball to Son on the edge of the area. He cut inside on his right foot and flashed an unstoppable curling shot across Ederson and into the top corner. Pick that out!
GOAL! Manchester City 1-2 Spurs (Son 10)
I told you City would miss Fernandinho. This is astonishing!
What a start! Alli tried to play a cute little through pass to Eriksen that was intercepted. It came back to Son in D, and he rifled a low shot that went straight through Ederson. That’s a goalkeeping error.
GOAL! Manchester City 1-1 Spurs (Son 7)
Spurs have the magical away goal!
6 min It was such an accomplished finish from Sterling – but Spurs’ defending was poor. Trippier showed him inside onto his right foot, and then Alderweireld seemed to move his head out of the way of the shot.
Oh my, that was a peach. De Bruyne cut infield from the right, played a give-and-go with Aguero and then moved the ball out to Sterling in space on the left. He moved into the area, came inside Trippier onto his right foot and placed a delicious curling shot right into the bottom corner. Great goal.
GOAL! Manchester City 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur (Sterling 4)
What a marvellous goal from Raheem Sterling!
4 min It’s been a frantic start from both teams. Spurs have certainly come to play.
3 min “I realise we should be past this by now,” says Zach Neeley, “but that’s a lot of price difference jumping out in those line-ups. I hope Spurs win, just rewards for Son and Pochettino (and I say that as an Arsenal fan).”
I’m sure everyone in the Gunners pub would heartily agree.
2 min Spurs are indeed playing a diamond in midfield – but it’s Eriksen, not Alli, who is lurking behind the strikers.
1 min Peep peep! City, in sky blue, get the match under way. Spurs are in their turquoise away strip.
The home fans get in the spirit by booing the Champions League anthem. The facial expressions of the players on both sides suggest are wobbling on the tightrope between ‘focussed’ and ‘secretly terrified’.
“I hate Tottenham,” high-fives Kieran Hardy. “I’m going to be watching because I know they will bottle it. Come on you Gunners!”
I’ll leave it the Spurs fans to point out on which night of the week Arsenal are playing.
You know things are hotting up when you start a Champions League match in daylight. Yeah: big night, this.
“What about Sterling for Player of the Year?” says Andrew Hurley. “Of all the top scorers, he is the only one (I think?) who doesn’t take penalties, he plays out wide and is not egotistical nor a diver like Salah. Has become very likable, and has had to deal with silly racist nonsense.”
Yes, pretty much everything about him is great. I suspect van Dijk will win the PFA award and Sterling the FWA version.
“Fernandinho on the bench?” sniffs Benjamin Park. “Is he injured? If not, that’s a big gamble. Case of Guardiola thinking too much?”
It sounds like he’s only fit enough for the bench. I can’t imagine any circumstances under which even Pep could think himself out of playing Fernandinho.
Twenty years ago today, Manchester City won 2-0 at Gillingham through goals from Terry Cooke and Kevin Horlock. They then beat Gillingham on penalties in the play-off final – Paul Dickov and all that – to earn promotion to the second tier of English football. For most of the 1990s, City were a bit of a shambles – but that often makes for the best stories, right?
In an attempt to assuage the horrors of 2019, I took a trip back in time recently to read Caught Beneath the Landslide by Tim Rich, the story of City in the 1990s. It’s such a good book – stylishly written and with a level of detail that made me inordinately happy.
Full disclosure: I am not his agent.
“Evening Rob,” says Guy Hornsby. “Honestly I’m so nervous about this game, even my nerve endings have nerves tonight. I don’t think any self-respecting Spurs fan thinks we should win this, but I’m sure we could. Pep completely Pepped it up last week, but this is his A-Team, and it’s frighteningly classy. Obviously for us lot an early goal with City piling in as we seek the perfect counter would be utopia, but in a season where we lost to Burnley, feck knows what’ll happen. I’ll be watching from behind the sofa.”
I think you’ll score, especially now Fernandinho isn’t playing, but I’m still not sure that’ll be enough. I can see this being a deranged classic – maybe 4-2 City, or even 5-4, with all the goals coming from own goals.
An email! “I’m anticipating both teams being so undone by their own nerves that it will end up a 5-4 thriller,” says Edward Caffrey, “with all the goals coming from own goals.”
So Dele Alli starts for Spurs in a pretty attacking line-up. I suspect they’ll play a diamond in midfield, though it could be 4-2-3-1 or even who cares.
Fernandinho is only on the bench for Manchester City. I assume that’s a fitness issue, but either way it’s an issue for City because he is as good as anyone at stopping counter-attacks.
Manchester City (4-1-2-3) Ederson; Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Mendy; Gundogan; De Bruyne, D Silva; B Silva, Aguero, Sterling.
Substitutes: Muric, Stones, Sane, Fernandinho, Mahrez, Otamendi, Jesus.
Tottenham Hotspur (possible 4-D-2) Lloris; Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Wanyama; Sissoko, Alli; Eriksen; Son, Lucas Moura.
Substitutes: Gazzaniga, Sanchez, Walker-Peters, Llorente, Foyth, Davies, Skipp.
Referee Cuneyt Cakir.
Hello. It’s a reflection of Manchester City’s achievement and ambition that they could end this season by doing an anticlimactic Treble. They have invested so much in the Champions League – financially, emotionally, literally – that even a clean sweep of domestic trophies would not satisfy everyone.
This, thus, is a seriously big night, particularly for Pep Guardiola. Only three managers – Bob Paisley, Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane – have won the European Cup more often, yet it still feels like he has underachieved in this competition. He won it twice in his first three seasons at Barcelona. Since then his record – relative to his pitiless domestic dominance – has verged on the abysmal.
We expect most coaches to build towards Champions League glory; the long road to the promised land and all that. In fact, many build down from it, their careers a HANG ON, WHAT’S THE BLOODY ANTONYM OF CRESCENDO, YOU’VE BITTEN OFF MORE THAN YOU CAN CHEW HERE SMYTH, YOU’RE IN TOO DEEP MAN! distressing and confusing diminuendo. At Barcelona and Bayern, Guardiola never failed to reach the semi-finals. At City he has gone out in the last 16 and the quarters. He has also, since leaving Barcelona, developed a predilection for damaging and possibly gratuitous demonstrations of his tactical IQ, most recently in last week’s first-leg defeat at Spurs.
But here’s the but. In a post-Twitter world, the line between fraud and Goat is irrationally thin. If City win the Champions League this year, especially if it’s part of an almost unprecedented quadruple, Pep’s lost years in this competition will be airbrushed from the old narrative.
If they don’t, and particularly if they go out to an admirable but inferior and injury-hit Tottenham Hotspur tonight, he’s going to hear plenty about it over the next 12 months – and not only from experts who have won the Champions League multiple times in their bedroom.
I’m loath to say City want to win this tie more than Spurs, but they surely need it more. That could be an advantage, or a disadvantage. Eventually, as anyone who has been a teenage boy can solemnly confirm, there comes a point when you need something too much for your own good.
Do City need it too much? No idea. And I’ll level with you: I haven’t a clue what’s going to happen tonight either. But I can’t wait to find out.
Big night, this.
Kick off is at 8pm.
The original content can be found here: Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur: Champions League quarter-final – live!