Going by the shape ebook, Manchester Metropolis vs Borussia Dortmund had the potential to be one of the vital one-sided Champions League quarter-finals in historical past.
Previous to kick off, Metropolis had did not win simply one among their earlier 26 fixtures. Over the identical interval Dortmund had misplaced 5, leaving them nicely adrift of the Bundesliga prime 4. Two key gamers, Jadon Sancho and Axel Witsel, had been additionally lacking for the guests.
Regardless of this, BVB had been holding a sizeable psychological trump card; specifically, Metropolis’s Champions League quarter-final hoodoo.
On the floor Craig Shakespeare and Pep Guardiola have little or no in widespread. Shakespeare is rarely discovered and not using a ball below every arm, nestled towards his nice British beer stomach. He’s additionally at all times lined head to toe in no matter free tracksuit he can get his palms on.
Guardiola, in the meantime, treats the touchline as his personal private catwalk, repping the most recent designer manufacturers and cologne. As well as, the previous Barcelona boss has a workforce of expensively assembled backroom workers to hold his balls for him, an concept that (in all probability) makes Shakespeare really feel bodily sick.
Maybe the one similarity between the 2 coaches is that the furthest they’ve ever taken an English workforce within the Champions League is the quarter-finals. Shakespeare’s Leicester City bowed out to Atletico Madrid again in 2017, whereas Guardiola’s Cityzens have a listing of 4 vanquishers. These vary from the illustrious, within the case of Liverpool, to the ridiculous, within the instances of Monaco, FC Porto. and Lyon (with all due respect to all of them).
On Tuesday evening when Dortmund got here to city, this troubling historical past gave the impression to be taking part in on Guardiola’s gamers’ minds. Towards a powerful however Shakespeare-less Leicester on Saturday they had been effortlessly dominant, functioning as easily as any Premier League workforce of the previous decade.
This was not the case towards the Bundesliga facet. For the entire issues Phil Foden prompted the Dortmund defence, for the entire surging Kevin De Bruyne runs and for all of Riyad Mahrez’s creativity, this was nonetheless a nervy night with the all-conquering Metropolis responsible of a number of careless errors. Probably the most notable of those was Ederson’s horrific try and take care of an extended ball simply after the half-hour mark.
Sprinting out from purpose, the Brazilian carelessly took a contact and had the ball nipped off his toes by the spectacular Jude Bellingham. Ederson blushes had been solely saved by a set off completely happy referee who wrongly blew up for a foul earlier than the ball crossed the road. This dominated out the likelihood for VAR to appropriate the choice.
Ruben Dias – a real contender for a number of finish of the season awards – additionally appeared rattled by the ‘curse’, or maybe it was simply the presence of Erling Haaland. Dias made a number of uncharacteristic errors within the second half, whereas Kyle Walker’s wastefulness in possession may be blamed on this psychological strain as nicely.
Physiological elements can also clarify the buildup to Dortmund’s probably essential away purpose. Within the previous interval Metropolis had been throughout their opponents, however as has usually been the story once they have met lesser opposition within the quarter-finals, that killer intuition was lacking.
Because of this, Dortmund may knock them out with a 1-0 win subsequent Wednesday, and whereas that will appear unlikely given their leaky defence you wouldn’t essentially wager towards them outscoring Guardiola’s expenses on the evening.
If issues do go awry (once more), it is going to be not possible for Metropolis to not solid their minds again to this night the place a extra relaxed efficiency, free from the luggage of their disappointing previous, might need put them in a far stronger place.