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Foden lauds 'genius' Guardiola ahead of crucial trip to Atletico
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Phil Foden registered a crucial assist in Manchester City's first-leg win over Atletico Madrid
Phil Foden registered a crucial assist in Manchester City's first-leg win over Atletico Madrid

Phil Foden hailed Pep Guardiola as a "genius" ahead of Manchester City's decisive Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid, having helped inspire his team to a 1-0 first-leg win last week.

The 21-year-old provided the assist for Kevin De Bruyne's 70th-minute winner just 79 seconds after being introduced as a substitute at the Etihad, allowing City to take a slender advantage into their second leg at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Foden's delightful ball to De Bruyne represented his seventh Champions League assist, with only Cesc Fabregas (10) ever assisting more goals for English clubs in the competition aged 21 or younger.

Looking back on a first leg in which City had to be patient after racking up 15 shots to Atletico's zero, Foden labelled his manager a "genius" for deploying him in a more central role when he entered the fray.

"It was very frustrating [watching from the bench]," Foden told the club's official media channels. "It looked like there was no space and we were struggling to create clear-cut chances like we usually do.

"It's hard coming off the bench trying to make an impact because you're coming into such an intense game. 

"He [Guardiola] kind of changed the shape a little bit, and played me more inside.

"He's a genius isn't he?

"I knew when I got the ball it was very tight. As I turned, I saw Kev run off his man and it was just instinct that I managed to play the ball through.

"When I made an impact I was obviously very happy, and was just delighted we had broken them down to take a good result back to their place."

City's trip to Madrid will represent their 100th Champions League match, and the 55 wins they have managed from their first 99 outings in the competition is already the most managed by an English side throughout their first century of Champions League games. Only Real Madrid, with 57, have managed more.

Meanwhile, since Opta data began, the fewest attempts on goal ever managed by a team across two legs of a Champions League knockout tie is the four attempted by Shakhtar Donestk against Bayern Munich in 2014-15, a record which Atletico could threaten after not recording a single attempt at the Etihad.

Foden, however, believes Diego Simeone's side will eventually have to leave their defensive shape to attack the Premier League leaders, and backed his side to exploit the spaces they may leave.

"I think it’s going to be a similar game," Foden added. "Maybe, if the result stays the same, they are going to have to come a bit more aggressively out of the space and try and attack the channels a little bit more.

"If they come at us, we know we have got that footballing side that we can show as well."

City have won just three of their previous 11 away games against Spanish opponents, drawing one and losing seven, although the second-leg trip will represent the club's first European trip to Atletico.

Tags

Atletico MadridManchester CityChampions League
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