The good Man Metropolis fable that separates them from Champions League glory – Stuart Brennan
One other clear sheet from Manchester Metropolis tonight would imply they achieved one thing that no membership in Champions League historical past has achieved because the huge Ajax facet within the mid-90s.
The Blues have conceded only one aim in seven video games on this season’s match, consisting of six group video games and the primary leg of their knockout recreation with Borussia Monchengladbach.
Nobody has reached the quarter-finals with such a median defensive report because the Dutch champions who boasted Edwin van der Sar, Frank de Boer and Edgar Davids – and so they needed to play two video games much less to get there.
However, whereas everybody has been touting this marketing campaign’s defensive enhancements with Ruben Dias getting plenty of the credit score, the acid take a look at is but to return.
The statistics are excellent. On prime of this unprecedented Champions League shutout, Metropolis have conceded simply 21 objectives in 30 Premier League video games this season. The best way they tightened their protection was highlighted as the principle motive for the 14 level hole on the prime of the desk.
That is undeniably true, however the thought – touted by many pundits and observers – that the Blues had been working away from objectives in all places till Dias arrived, is solely not true.
A commentator over the weekend referred to the “quantity of objectives” Metropolis had conceded earlier than this season. However final season was not in regards to the variety of objectives scored, however the timing and significance.
Since Pep Guardiola took the reins at Metropolis, they’ve lived as much as their status by turning into the league’s most profitable staff.
However in addition they have the perfect defensive report – earlier than this season, solely Liverpool (133) approached the Blues report of 124 objectives conceded in 4 seasons.
Even final season, when Liverpool began the league, Metropolis conceded simply two extra objectives and beat them 102-85.
Metropolis’s downside final season wasn’t the variety of objectives they scored – it was the unhealthy expertise they needed to allow them to in on the worst attainable time.
Norwich, Wolves, United and Spurs had been all pleased to be outplayed and look forward to the inevitable moments of weak point.
Delicate to the counterattack, Metropolis have been repeatedly hit by groups changing a big proportion of their possibilities.
That is the issue that Pep Guardiola and his gamers have tackled properly over the previous three months, and Dias’ robust protection and group expertise have performed their half.
However so too has the staff regained their depth and minimize the availability line to the counterattacking groups with vigorous press and focused aggression.
The Blues have gone 610 European minutes with out conceding since Luis Diaz scored a superb solo aim on the Etihad stadium within the opening group recreation towards Porto.
However in current seasons, they’ve tended to achieve this section of the competitors with out too many issues.
It was within the knockout section that they burned spectacularly.
They conceded six objectives in two matches towards Monaco, 5 in two towards Liverpool and Tottenham, and three within the one-off towards Lyon final season, to depart their hopes in tatters.
So the actual take a look at of their defensive credentials, assuming they do not burn out early and are available out in Hungary tonight, stays to be accomplished.
The indicators are encouraging, however in European competitors this staff nonetheless has the whole lot to show, and which means stopping objectives at necessary occasions.