Manchester City must tighten up defensively for Real Madrid test

Manchester City secured a precious three points with yesterday’s 4-2 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. The victory saw Pep Guardiola’s side keep in touch with Liverpool and Arsenal in this season’s title race.

But now the European champions will begin their preparations for their UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg against Real Madrid early next week. Based on yesterday’s performance, the champions will have to tighten up defensively. It may prove crucial to City’s chances of taking a positive result from the Bernabeu back to the Etihad.

Against Crystal Palace yesterday and Aston Villa earlier in the week, Manchester City was susceptible to quick counter attacks. It was a quick break that led to Jean-Phillipe Mateta’s 3rd minute opener yesterday. It was the same story against Aston Villa in midweek when a quick break saw Villa equalise through Jhon Duran before Phil Foden’s hat trick sealed the victory at the Etihad.

Read more: City player ratings from Manchester City’s 4-2 win over Crystal Palace.

But Real Madrid are a different beast entirely to Crystal Palace and Aston Villa. If the La Liga leaders are allowed the same space to counter quickly, the European champions may be up against it in Spain. With players such as Vinicius Junior, Rodrigo, Jude Bellingham, and others all in the Madrid lineup, Ancelotti’s side could take full advantage of any defensive lapses by Manchester City.

Speaking following his team’s win yesterday, Pep Guardiola is aware of his team’s defensive issues. He believes they are a by-product of playing so often and the result of fatigue affecting his squad. Guardiola said post game: “We were not solid like normally in terms of defensively and on the transition. That’s how we gave away the first goal. (Playing) Three days, three days, three days. We had the mental energy. It’s more than physicality, it’s demanding.”

Manchester City must tighten up at the back if they are to get a positive result from the Bernabeu. A tough test awaits the European champions in Spain. Given they will likely be without Nathan Ake and Kyle Walker it will be no easy task for Pep Guardiola’s side. But the world champions have the players and the experience required to pick up a good result against a hungry Real Madrid side. If they do tighten up defensively it could provide a solid foundation for another famous result on Tuesday night in Madrid.

Tags Aston Villa Bernabeu Carlo Ancelotti Crystal Palace Etihad Stadium Jean-Phillpe Mateta John Duran Jude Bellingham Manchester City Pep Guardiola Real Madrid Rodrygo Selhurst Park UEFA Champions League Vinicius Junior