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Man City survive brutal Champions League battle with Atletico Madrid - but at what cost?

01:01 EAT 14/04/2022
Stefan Savic Jan Oblak Raheem Sterling Atletico Madrid Manchester City Champions League 2021-22
Kevin De Bruyne and Kyle Walker were both forced off during a bruising 0-0 draw that saw Man City progress to the Champions League last four

Atletico Madrid 0-0 Manchester City (0-1 agg): Match Statistics

Manchester City made it through to the Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday night – but they paid a heavy price.

Kevin De Bruyne looked in discomfort as he was replaced midway through the second half of this brutal Champions League battle with Atletico Madrid and Kyle Walker also looked to be carrying an injury when he followed him off late on.

In truth, there won’t be many players that leave the Wanda Metropolitano without a couple of cuts and bruises.

The punishing schedule in City’s hunt for a treble isn’t going to get any easier after this war of attrition, and Pep Guardiola needs every player he can muster right now.

However, while Jurgen Klopp was able to rest some star men in Liverpool’s own quarter-final second leg, against Benfica on the same evening, Guardiola went with a full-strength side against Atletico, even though the Premier League leaders face the Reds in an FA Cup semi-final on Saturday.

The Catalan will feel he had no choice, with City having arrived in the Spanish capital with such a slender first-leg advantage, but another punishing 90 minutes will have taken a lot out of his players.

Indeed, this was a night in which Atletico not only employed more dark arts, but arguably went well beyond what is acceptable on several occasions.

This was an ugly game long before a huge brawl broke out in the dying seconds after Felipe had fouled Phil Foden close to the touchline.

Stefan Savic first dragged Foden off the field before then grabbing the hair of City substitute Jack Grealish during the melee which followed.

It didn't end there, either, with Savic and Grealish having reportedly squared up in the tunnel afterwards after an alleged headbutt, before the police had to separate both sets of players outside the City dressing room.

For most of the game, Savic and his colleagues appeared to have more of a problem with Phil Foden, who must have felt like he had a large target painted on his back.

With barely 10 minutes gone, Felipe clattered into the England international from behind, leaving him sprawling on the floor and he played the rest of the match with a bandaged head.

Having escaped a yellow card, Felipe later had another crack at Foden's ankles, while Savic shouldered the England international needlessly when the ball had long rolled out of play.

But the 21-year-old kept coming back for more and, as Atletico desperately tried to rescue an equaliser and City ran down the clock, Foden drew them in again with just over a minute of normal time to play.

After initially winning the ball with a sliding tackle, Felipe followed through on Foden, who rolled off the field, but then back onto it.

Savic then got involved, and chaos ensued. As ever with Atletico, the 'sh*thousery' was a bigger talking point than much of the football.

Still, it's worth noting that City strongly and were unlucky not to have taken the lead when Ilkay Gundogan struck the post.

Atletico finally mustered their first shot of the match – and tie – 35 minutes in, with Jeffrey Kondogbia’s deflected effort running through to Ederson.

They finally opened up in the second half and threatened repeatedly, with Antoine Griezmann and Joao Felix narrowly off-target.

However, as the tension mounted in the final 20 minutes, City kept their headers, while Atletico lost theirs.

Joao Cancelo did pick up a late booking which rules him out of the first leg of the semi-final with Real Madrid but it was probably a foul that needed to be made, given Yannick Carrasco was just about to enter the penalty area.

Still, while City are still in the Spanish capital, a trip to the Santiago Bernabeu bizarrely feels a long way away right now, with a Wembley date with Liverpool now in full view.

Also, Guardiola will be hoping that when his players do return to Madrid, most of those cuts and bruises will have healed.

City may have survived this literal Atletico onslaught but how long will it take them all to fully recover?