Guardiola plays magpie again as Manchester City find joy in suffering | Manchester By

Diego Simeone began to clap and how the Atlético Madrid fans reacted. There was still time to play in Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final second match against Manchester City at Metropolitano, the additional nine minutes had not yet passed and there would be even more than that as it turned out.

The Atlético manager later explained that his applause was to the fans, who had built a wall of noise during the match, a fulminating backdrop for a high-stakes event. But why did he go with it so early?

Maybe he realized that the match was over, 0-0 unbreakable, City will definitely advance thanks to Kevin De Bruyne’s first match. And so it was a bit like a manager shaking hands with his opposite number before the final whistle is blown; a gesture of sportsmanship, something to create a moment.

Did Simeone really think it was over? Or was it a trick to create energy for one last push that Atlético managed? 13 minutes into the game, substitute Ángel Correa unleashed a swerving effort from the right that the visitors’ keeper did well to tip wide. Atlético was so close.

But the longer Simeone kept clapping and the crowd followed him, the more the alternative reading presented itself. Like everyone else in red and white, Simeone was out of his mind with frustration over his team’s inability to capitalize on their dominance in the second half, shaking at City’s attempts to waste time – the play, the twist, the need for treatment.

There was a sardonic undercurrent. Congratulations on winning like this. Like Atlético might do. Shouldn’t City be better, cleaner?

Simeone would deny it. Like Pep Guardiola had rejected and would continue to deny having criticized Simeone and Atlético after the first match. The City boss had said that “ever since prehistory” it had been difficult to meet a team that defended deeply with two lines of five.

Lots of people in Madrid interpreted it as an excavation, but Guardiola maintained that he was merely praising Atlético as the champions of the approach. Smile or clap as you come in the low blow; kill with kindness. That has been the theme of the meeting between the Spanish and English champions.

Diego Simeone tries to make his mark on Manchester City’s players. Photo: Lee Smith / Action Images / Reuters

The third reading of Simeone’s behavior for break time was the most unlikely. Was it reluctant admiration for City? Finally, you have learned how to close a result. Guardiola has been cast as a magpie over the last few days. He played as Liverpool against Liverpool in the 2-2 Premier League match on Sunday with fast, long balls up the channels. Now he had played as Atlético against Atlético.

“I try to emulate the best teams and learn,” Guardiola said after the Liverpool game with so much sincerity that it felt like he was going to be sarcastic. It’s the tone that then annoys some of his rivals, including Simeone.

“Often, those who are very eloquent, very intelligent and have a way of praising you dismissively,” Simeone said after Wednesday’s equalizer. “But those of us who may have less eloquence are not stupid.”

No matter how you cut it, Guardiola and City had come under the skin of Simeone and Atlético. On one level, it was fun to hear Atlético brag about City’s use of dark art, the very last word in pots and pans. But more seriously, City had found a way to pass one of football’s biggest tests – to get through in Metropolitano – and it was a new way for them, one to tie them even closer, especially after the mass match that flared up in it. 89th minute.

There was sweetness in the second half backhand action, in the suffering, which was encapsulated by Phil Foden. The striker was bruised and bloody, his head bandaged from the 12th minute after he was cleared out in an air challenge by Felipe. But he refused to let himself be cowed.

Phil Foden ends up on the turf as another set unfolds at Wanda Metropolitano.
Phil Foden ends up on the turf as another set unfolds at Wanda Metropolitano. Photo: Oscar del Pozo / AFP / Getty Images

“Incredible competitive mentality,” Citys Rodri said. “We have been growing a lot in this sense in recent years. We have to keep improving because we are going to live moments like this in the next few games. We have to have a strong mentality, be together and never give up. up.”

It remained a flawed City performance. Play like they did in the second half and they will most likely be out against Real Madrid in the semi-finals. It was strange to see how City could not connect any kind of progressive move; much of it was sideways or passed for its own sake. When Atlético jumped into their press, City could not see the gaps. They were suffocated, and could hardly cross halfway.

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City sustained further injuries, injuries to De Bruyne and Kyle Walker. The schedule remains intense, and going far with an opponent like Atlético, complete with the requirements for travel to and from Madrid, is hardly the ideal preparation for another meeting with Liverpool on Saturday – in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. It has not been lost to anyone at City that Liverpool were able to rest players in their second Champions League quarter-final clash against Benfica on Wednesday, which was perfectly even for them.

But City are in their third Champions League semi-final, one step closer to the holy grail of a first triumph in competition. The hope is that the excitement of knowing it and how they got it done can override the maxed out bodies and minds.

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