Manchester City has achieved their third victory, maintaining a flawless defense thus far. This further indicates that Pep Guardiola’s team has the potential to follow in the footsteps of Real Madrid and become the second club to successfully defend their title in the Champions League era.
Following his negative remarks about the Wankdorf’s artificial turf, the City manager’s team performed satisfactorily. Although they were unable to dominate the Swiss champions like they have against other teams, their victory serves as ideal preparation for the highly anticipated 191st Manchester derby on Sunday.
Guardiola’s team is on the verge of advancing to the knockout stage with a maximum of nine points. However, Erik ten Hag may have observed City’s tendency to be careless with the ball, which he can use to prepare Manchester United for their upcoming match at Old Trafford. Additionally, Meschack Elia’s goal for the opposing team gives United even more reason to be optimistic, as it highlights City’s struggle to keep a clean sheet in only three out of 14 games.
Guardiola commented on the upcoming match against their local rival, stating that the game at Old Trafford is significant. In the Premier League, they still have 87 points to compete for, but in the Champions League, they must not miss any opportunities. United is in good form after their recent victory against Copenhagen, making it a tough game at Old Trafford. However, they have enough time to prepare and will do so thoroughly.
Erling Haaland delivered the final blow with a successful 67th-minute penalty, following a foul committed by Mohamed Ali Camara on Jack Grealish. In the closing moments, the striker scored his second goal of the match, bringing his total to 37 goals in just 33 appearances in the competition. This remarkable statistic further emphasizes his incredible talent. Manager Pep Guardiola stated, “Despite what some may want, this player will continue to score goals throughout his career. With the chances we create, he is a major threat.”
The city’s successful evening provided the perfect response to the uncertainty of their inaugural encounter on the artificial turf with this particular opponent. Guardiola praised, “It’s tougher on this field, the ball behaves differently. However, our positional play was exceptional.”
Grealish returned to the starting lineup after a month-long absence due to a painful leg injury. He displayed determination and skill, exemplified by his ability to control a pass from Rodri with ease and set up Matheus Nunes for a shot that ultimately went over the goal. There was a flurry of activity, with Nunes attempting to assist Haaland but missing, and Grealish making a brilliant pass to Jérémy Doku who was unable to convert. Despite Racioppi’s impressive save, Nunes was unable to score on the rebound, as confirmed by goalline technology.
However, the direction of the traffic changed when City’s defense was caught off guard by a curved pass from Cedric Itten to Sandro Lauper. Lauper had a clear opportunity to score, but hesitated and Nathan Aké’s long leg came to the rescue for the visiting team.
Guardiola had two potential game-changers on the bench in Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva. Silva, in particular, seemed like a viable option to replace Nunes. However, Guardiola revealed that Foden “encountered an issue” that could potentially jeopardize his ability to play this weekend.
Grealish was inexplicably taunted by the home fans throughout the match. However, he responded to the negativity by setting up Manuel Akanji for Manchester City’s first goal with a well-placed corner. Although Akanji’s initial shot was deflected for another corner, the ensuing play led to Rúben Dias’s header being saved by Racioppi and Akanji then converting with precision.
Reworded: As a former Basel player, this was certainly a difficult moment for the home fans, but their emotions quickly shifted. The tying goal came from a break in play as Elia evaded Rico Lewis and scored a high finish over an approaching Ederson. This caused a loud cheer from the majority of the spectators at Stadion Wankdorf and City was caught off guard. Lewis then took a powerful long-range shot that was blocked, and Lauper attempted to give his team the lead twice, but was unsuccessful. Guardiola could then thank Ederson for keeping the score level as the Brazilian made a diving save against a swerving shot from Itten.
The final decisive moment arrived. Haaland’s mercilessness left Racioppi with no opportunity to stop the ball before the Norwegian scored late. Next, City turns their attention to the upcoming rivalry match this weekend.