Three things we learned from Man City-Gladbach, Real Madrid-Atalanta

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Nicholas Mendola
·4 min read
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Manchester City and Real Madrid used second-leg wins on Tuesday to seal their places in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals.

The looks were quite different, however. Real Madrid failed to really inspire in its 3-1 win over Atalanta (4-1 on aggregate).

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Man City, meanwhile, continued to have a virtuoso’s role in this tournament’s orchestral arrangement with its 2-0 defeat (4-0 agg.) of Borussia Monchengladbach.

City remains unbeaten in this season’s tournament with a total of one goal conceded, as Tuesday’s two victors join Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool, Porto, and Paris Saint-Germain in Friday’s quarterfinal draw.

Although… how different might Atalanta-Real Madrid have gone if not for this dicey bit of referee work?

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More Champions League

WATCH: Kevin De Bruyne smashes Man City (further) in front of Gladbach UEFA Champions League: How to watch, odds, predictions Guardiola not happy with quadruple talk

1. Man City is a wonder: Pep Guardiola’s best Barcelona teams can thank the universe that his 2020-21 Man City team stumbled out of the blocks after having almost no preseason.

Granted this Gladbach side is no beauty — winless in eight across all competitions and sluggish since the announcement that manager Marco Rose would leave for Borussia Dortmund after the season — but City allowed three shots on target to Gladbach in the first half after giving up several chances in the 2-0 first-leg win. The second half tightened up. Zero more for the Germans.

So why the Barca reference? Here are Pep’s four Champions League campaigns with the Blaugranas.

2008-09: 8W-5D-2L; 36GF, 14GA — Won UCL; Both losses after advancement assured
2009-10: 6W-3D-2L; 21 GF, 9GA — Elim by Inter Milan in semis; Lost to Rubin Kazan in GS
2010-11: 9W-3D-1L; 30GF, 8GA — Won UCL; Lost R16 first leg 2-1 at Arsenal
2011-12: 8W-3D-1L; 35GF, 10GA — Elim by Chelsea in semis; Lost first leg 1-0 at Chelsea

Now do Man City’s 2020-21 UCL campaign so far, you say?

7W-1D-0L; 17GF, 1GA

One!! And that was in the 14th minute of their group stage opener versus Porto. They’ve since gone 706 UCL minutes without conceding!!

What we’re saying is that while there are still three more rounds to clinch a nearly unblemished run, a Man City title run would likely be sent into the either not just as the club’s first European Cup but amongst the best seasons ever produced by a modern team.

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2. Kevin De Bruyne is a two-footed artist: We’ve decided that Kevin De Bruyne doesn’t get to be described as “using his weaker foot” when he does something magical with his left foot. The man is two-footed, like a Steve Bruce tackle circa 1994.

His left-footed effort to put Man City up 3-0 on aggregate was tremendous, thundered into the upper reaches of the Gladbach goal (VIDEO).

By the way, wanna know Man City’s record this season when De Bruyne doesn’t play? Fourteen wins, one draw.

3. Real Madrid just fine in advancing: Atalanta didn’t get to showcase itself at home thanks to a 17th-minute red card led to a defensive camp site that left the Serie A side happy to go to Spain down 1-0 to Real Madrid. The chances of a comeback felt good when Real Madrid sleepwalked out of the gate, but, well…

Karim Benzema scores a lot of goals with a high degree of difficulty. He didn’t need a gift. But that’s what put Madrid up 1-0 and there wasn’t much else going for Madrid outside of Vinicius Junior, who went on a thrilling 52nd-minute dribble that would’ve been an all-timer of a goal had he not popped his finish wide of the goal. He then won a penalty that Sergio Ramos converted — of course he did — to finish the scoring.

Real will want to up its game against better opposition, especially after Luis Muriel’s terrific free kick ruined the clean sheet in the 83rd minute, but Marco Asensio’s goal off the bench moments later showed that Zinedine Zidane’s tournament team didn’t need to have its A-game to get to the quarters.

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