The intense pressure just doesn’t seem to end. It seems as if we are playing one final after the other since last Tuesday. The odds are so high that one bad moment and our season is virtually over. Destiny is so stringent on us that, we are not even allowed to blink an eye. We are halfway through this gruesome week and i feel pleasant at how it has gone for us so far. We face Atletico next and unlike the previous 2 games in the week, this game will be a turning point in our season.
Atletico Madrid as a footballing side does not scare me. Yes, there is the fear of that Counter attack or Atletico nicking a goal from a set piece, but that is not at all the worrisome part for me if i was City. What would really scare me is their vast experience in the knockout stages of the Champions League. People underestimate this part, but as Benzema showed against Chelsea, experience plays a pivotal role far beyond our imagination.
What would happen if we went a goal down early tomorrow and Atletico is all over us? Even a slightest imagination of this scenario would send a chill down our spine. This is where the experienced teams play it better. They don’t let their heads drop and understand that good and bad phases are cyclical and their moment to strike back will come. This is the mentality we need to have for tomorrow’s game. Tomorrow’s game will be won by the team that suffers well and displays exceptional resilience in bad moments.
I know that i am not going into the footballing side of things like tactics and predicting lineups for the game. But, tomorrow’s game is far beyond the tactics. It is going to be all about things like managing the tempo of the game, injecting speed into it at the right moment and not getting caught out at the back. I know this Atletico is not at the same level of the past teams, but their spirit is certainly at the level of the past teams. The stubbornness and resilience they showed in the first leg is at par with the past Atletico teams that have reached the final.
What i would say for City is that, we will need to manage transitions extremely well and no lapse in concentration like Kyle Walker had for the Mane goal is acceptable. Also, Clinicalness in front of goal is going to be vital. Pep put it extremely well after the Liverpool match that we allowed the opponent to live. I am very sure that he meant it for the Atletico game more than anything else. Pep knows that the strikers playing in the later stages of the Champions League are ruthless machines. We need to be as ruthless as them to go deep into this competition.
It’s going to be an other night full of pressure in Madrid and we will be under the pump. This match will all be about the personality and character to soak up pressure and standing up for each other in the bad moments. This match will be decided by things far beyond footballing talents. This match will test your qualities like grit, determination and resilience to the hardest core. The Champions League quarterfinal is definitely not a place for the weak hearted. Only the strong will get through to the next round