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A City Fan’s Perspective: Knocked Out

That was painful.

AS Monaco v Manchester City FC - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Manchester City lost 3-1 at the Stade Louis II against AS Monaco in the second leg of the Champions League Round of 16, and the Citizens lost 6-6 on aggregate thanks to Monaco's three away goals from the first leg.

City crashed out in the semifinals last season, and everyone wanted to see if Pep Guardiola could lead a team not named Barcelona past the semifinals. Instead, Pep came up two rounds short.

The notable absence on this game was Radamel Falcao, was ruled out of the lineup before the match because of injury. Valere Germain took his spot in the starting 11 alongside Kylian Mbappé.

For City, Nicolas Otamendi and Yaya Touré did not start. Since City needed to prevent Monaco goals, it baffled many that Guardiola chose not to include them.

Nonetheless, Monaco scored within 8 minutes thanks to Mbappé. Benjamin Mendy sent the ball to the French striker, and he just tapped it in to give Monaco the early lead.

They doubled up 20 minutes later, as Fabinho was left completely unmarked in the box. Mendy crossed the ball in again, and the Brazilian sent it home to give Monaco the advantage on aggregate.

City finished the first half without a single shot, and they needed motivation to get back into the match. Thankfully, they finally began to pressure Monaco early in the second half, as Sergio Agüero took on defender after defender to carry the City attack.

The pressure boiled over in the 71st minute when Raheem Sterling’s shot on target rebounded to Leroy Sané, who picked up his fourth goal in six games to give City the aggregate lead.

Monaco would not be outdone, however, and Tiémoué Bakayoko scored a header from a long free kick and sent the French side to the quarter-finals.

Let's take a deeper look at City's performance:

Defense

The Manchester City defense is diabolical. There, I said it. They wasted 50 million on a “defender” in John Stones, and the only thing he can do well is pass. Pep does like guys who can play it around the back, but it’s more valuable to buy someone who can defend than it is to buy a passer.

And where the hell was Nicolas Otamendi? Pep knows Monaco is a fantastic team from set pieces and crosses, even without Falcao, and the only City center-back who is solid at defending aerial duels is Otamendi. Instead, Guardiola tried to play an attack-minded team in a game where City needed to hold Monaco down. Difficult to understand.

Aleksandar Kolarov, Gaël Clichy and Bacary Sagna didn’t really do anything, and that’s the problem. City need their defenders to all contribute week in and week out, or else they fall apart at the back. That’s exactly what happened at Monaco.

Midfield

I have given the City midfield high praise over the last few weeks, but there is plenty of criticism of their shambolic performance.

The only bright spots in the midfield were Fernandinho and Kevin De Bruyne. Dinho' is essential to City’s success, and he can boss the deep midfield on his own. De Bruyne started off slow, but ended up completing four of his six long balls and all three of his attempted dribbles.

However, the rest of the midfield arguably played their worst game of the season. Leroy Sané, David Silva and Raheem Sterling combined to win 11 of 32 duels. To be fair, Sané and Sterling created City’s lone goal, but they didn’t create nearly enough attacking pressure to relieve the defense.

Attack

Sergio Agüero slept through the first half, and he went without a shot or any threatening chances. In the second half, however, he woke up and completed 8 of 9 attempted dribbles. He also missed some pretty easy chances that he normally doesn't, but at least he tried.

No matter how good or bad Agüero played, the blame for the match falls on the defense. In the future, City need to defend set pieces efficiently if we stand a chance in the Premier League or next year’s Champions League.