Masterful Monaco send Pep’s suicidal City out of Champions League

Manchester City come crashing out of the Champions League despite their 2 goal advantage from the first leg.

Monaco came into this game averaging over 3 goals at home all season, needing only 2 goals which they have done 31 times so far this season in just 46 games. City, lead by Pep Guardiola who has never bowed out of the prestigious tournament prior to the semi-finals, arrived with an attacking mind-set focused on outscoring Monaco as they did at the Etihad.

With Otamendi and Yaya Toure dropped from the squad, this premeditated premise to fire on all cylinders from the off was confirmed with the line-up. Aguero led the charge with 4 attacking ambassadors to his side; de Bruyne, Sterling, Sane and David Silva. Yet their start to the game was weak and the team itself slipshod, showing no intensity or game plan from the start.

Monaco, on the other hand, were determined to show their character when early in the game, Valerie Germain caught Fernandinho dawdling in the centre of the pitch and released the spirited Kylian Mbappe-Lottin who forced a save from Caballero. From the resulting corner, City weren’t able to clear the lines and allowed the dominant Mendy, who was superb on Wednesday night, to fire in a low cross which was finished by the ever-present Mbappe.

The opening few minutes set the scene for the first half, Monaco repeatedly carved a way through the Man City defence with Mendy, Fabinho, Lemar, Silva and Mbappe being the most notable threats. 30 minutes in, City yet to have an effort on target and Mendy creates another opportunity for Fabinho who finishes in fine style inside the box to set Monaco up for the last 8.

Alas, the second half came for Pep and his team, they started off well and resembled the City side familiar from recent outings. In the 10 minutes past the hour mark, a hatful of chances fell to Aguero and Sane but none were capitalized.

The awoken and now fervent sky blue squad opened their account for the night in the 70th minute when de Bruyne masterfully played Sterling in down the right. After weaving his way through a few bodies, his attempted shot was saved by Subasic but left the goal gaping for a charging Sane to smash it home.

Spirits were up and City just needed to continue in the same vein, yet the most bizarre defensive organisation from a trivially positioned free kick saw Bakayako head home for the winner, Pep’s unusual high defensive line being culpable.

City were much the victim of their own demise tonight, not showing the passion required in the first half and then after going in front on aggregate, allowing a petty League Two style goal in. Yet let’s not take anything away from a spectacular first half performance from Monaco where they showed they can match the titans of Europe in offensive play, and the second half being parallel to the most potent of defences.

As many French papers displayed the following day, this was a revolutionary step for French football but a saddening day in the history of Pep Guardiola.

 

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