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Irking City players and fans alike with their apparent 5-5-0 formation, the game plan from Diego Simeone was simple – prevent Man City running away with the tie in the first leg before attempting to come up with the goods in front of their own fans.
Such an approach very nearly paid dividends on the night, but the introduction of Phil Foden sparked new life into Man City, with the young England international threading a pass through for De Bruyne to slot home past Jan Oblak on the 70-minute mark.
A 1-0 deficit means that the tie is far from done and dusted, but the reigning La Liga champions have experienced another blow to their momentum since the Etihad defeat – going down 1-0 to Mallorca in Saturday’s La Liga clash after previously winning six on the bounce in all competitions.
In order to turn the tie around at the Wanda Metropolitano and seek a place in the semi-finals for the first time since 2016-17, Atletico must firstly attempt a shot on goal – which they did not do across the entire 90 minutes at the Etihad – although they have made it through on two of the past three occasions that they have lost the first leg.
Returning to home comforts at the Wanda Metropolitano also spells optimism for Atletico, who have won each of their last three in the league there, but not since October 2020 have Simeone’s side won a Champions League match at home – drawing four and losing three since.
Atletico boss Simeone will welcome Yannick Carrasco back to the fold after suspension kept him out of the first-leg defeat, and all players on two yellow cards will see their cautions wiped ahead of the semi-finals.
MLS-bound midfielder Hector Herrera remains sidelined alongside key defender Jose Gimenez, with the latter seemingly set to miss out once again owing to his calf issue, but Simeone is otherwise well-stocked for the second leg.
The quick turnaround and a pair of dampening defeats should lead to at least one or two alterations on the hosts end, with Joao Felix expected to return to the XI alongside Renan Lodi and Sime Vrsaljko.
City also have just two injury concerns to worry about for the second leg, with Ruben Dias still struggling with his hamstring issue and teenage attacker Cole Palmer dealing with an foot problem.
There is a slim chance that the duo may be able to make the squad, but Guardiola will not rush them back, and Gabriel Jesus’s start at the weekend may have come with this game in mind, as the attacker is suspended for an accumulation of bookings.
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Kyle Walker is now back from a European ban of his own, but Nathan Ake held the fort well at left-back in the first leg and will hope to come into contention for another start amid City’s hectic Easter period.
Atletico Madrid possible starting lineup:
Oblak; Savic, Felipe, Reinildo; Vrsaljko, Llorente, Koke, Lemar, Lodi; Griezmann, Felix
Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Ake; Gundogan, Rodri, De Bruyne; Mahrez, Foden, Sterling