Manchester City matchwinner Kevin De Bruyne remarked that Atletico Madrid played with ‘five at the back and five in midfield’ at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night.
The city have finally managed to knock down the stubborn visitors to a 1-0 victory in the second leg in Madrid next week as they move on to a draw.
De Bruyne scored one goal in the game after being suspended by Phil Foden, his second-half introduction to the bench was a decision by Pep Guardiola’s team.
“[Atletico] have played five back and five in the middle of the pitch, so it is very difficult to find places,” the Belgian midfielder revealed later when asked by BT Sport.
“It was a very difficult game. They are strong – it is their style of play and I think we played very well under the circumstances, ”he explained.
“It would always be difficult to create opportunities. The first round was tough, but it didn’t deliver, and in the second half we had a few chances. I think the way we played was good because we didn’t produce anything. You need calmness and patience, try to find spaces. You will lose the balls because they are so tight. ”
De Bruyne added that he expects the same from Madrid in the return leg on April 13.
“Obviously there are no goals on the move,” he said. “But I expect it to be a bit similar [in the second leg]. If the game is tough, they will have to attack a bit. ”
Guardiola is pleased that the changes he made during the second half have had a significant impact on the game and the result.
“The boys were playing well but we know about Gabriel [Jesus] and Phil had a special ability and Jack [Grealish] kept playing football. Today the manager was very smart, ”he told BT Sport.
“All the management when we change we believe it will be better. Sometimes it does not work. If it works, fine. If it doesn’t work, it’s a mistake. ”