In February, Manchester City and Monaco played what was, up until that point, the best match of the entire Champions League. Their first leg match ended 5-3 and it was filled with drama, beautiful goals, and just pure entertainment on the day.
Of course, Barcelona's history-altering 6-1 defeat of PSG snatched the title of "best match," but City-Monaco is still probably the most exciting tie left in the tournament. Traveling to Monaco, City just need to hold on to their two-goal lead to progress. What do they need to do on the pitch to ensure this happens?
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This is easier said than done. Manchester City have struggled to keep goals out all season, and things weren't any different against Monaco the first time around. Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones were repeatedly caught out by Falcao and Kylian Mbappe, and Monaco were dangerous throughout the match on the attack. Now, in the return fixture, City simply need to avoid losing by two goals or more (it's a little bit more complicated than that, but bear with us). To do that, they need to defend well.
Again, easier said than done.
Get a solid performance from their goalkeeper
Keeping goals out is tough when you have a settled defense and a regular goalkeeper. It's nigh on impossible when you don't have either. All season City have had issues at the back, and been plagued with goalkeeper inconsistency, and if they're going to make it past Monaco, they'll need a big game from whoever's in goal. That will likely be Willy Caballero, but it doesn't matter if it's him or Claudio Bravo between the sticks; they need a big performance.
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Deal with the threat of Kylian Mbappe
Kylian Mbappe is one of Europe's brighest prospects for a reason. He's been labeled the "Next Thierry Henry," a label you'd laugh at until you saw his pace, skill and eye for goal. He showed exactly why he's so highly rated the last time these two teams met and City need to mitigate the Mbappe threat on top of slowing down the rest of his talented young teammates if they want to advance because he could score three on his own.
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Control the midfield
Monaco have a number of exciting players in midfield and attack, and their free flowing style can see teams get completely overrun in midfield, or even completely bypassed. For City to be successful again, they need to gain control of the middle of the pitch, establish their possession game, and dictate the pace of the match. They're not a team that can play on the back foot.
Contain Bernardo Silva
Bernardo Silva was a joy to watch in the first match. He teased, tricked, and shimmied his way past City's defenders time and time again in the first leg, and to be successful in the second, City will need to pay close attention to him. If he's allowed time and space to create, he'll do just that, but for City to shut down Monaco's attack, they'll need to set their sights on slowing down Bernardo Silva.
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Get on the scoresheet
Manchester City are awful at defending, so it's probably going to have to be their attack that does the job for them. They grabbed five goals in the first leg, so Pep Guardiola will have full confidence in their ability to get on the scoresheet, but it's imperative they do so.
Why? Monaco have three away goals. Should they pull off a 2-0, 3-1, or even 4-2 win, they go through. Don't try to hold on for this win. Go attack, score and take it to Monaco.