Manchester City were on a 23-match winning run at the Etihad Stadium before Liverpool showed up on Saturday. Jurgen Klopp’s side denied City the opportunity to set a new English record for the most consecutive wins at home. But the team was back in business in the Champions League against RB Leipzig on Tuesday night.
The Blues started the game strongly as usual but soon found themselves two goals down in the first half. Although this was not a must-win game, City’s defending was one of the worst it has been. Having gone unbeaten at home in the CL for the last couple of years the team has made the Etihad Stadium a real fortress.
So it was rather surprising to see the defence fall apart against a Leipzig side that was expected to lose the game. It was now time for the team to show the character that produced the treble last term. Bouncing back from a one-goal deficit is difficult enough. But expecting to do that when losing 2-0 could amount to pushing your luck.
Yet, difficult as it may be for most other teams, pulling the chestnut out of the fire has become somewhat of a speciality for Pep Guardiola’s team. City have made a habit of finding a way to get a result when put in such a difficult position.
Some of the comeback wins have been responsible for sealing the Premier League title, consolidating the team’s success and solidifying its reputation as one of the best sides in world football.
However, on this occasion, City’s three centre-backs performed below expectation in the first half and were all culpable for the goals. Worse still, on another day and with another referee, both Ruben Dias and Manuel Akanji could have been dismissed. The two defenders committed fouls that could have easily warranted yellow cards.
Dias in particular prevented an attack late in the first half by bringing down an opposition player despite already being on a yellow card. A second yellow there and he would have been off. Playing a man light with two goals down against a good team like RB Leipzig could have definitely produced a different result.
The manager was forced to replace the Portuguese centre-back at halftime. Nathan Ake came in and stabilized the back line. The further introduction of Jeremy Doku and Julian Alvarez put the German side under immense pressure, allowing the team to not only equalise but go on to win the game.
The result proved once more just how much the Etihad Stadium has become a fortress for City. This provides two unique benefits for the team. Not only does it build confidence to get results even in difficult games, but it also puts fear into opposition teams knowing that they will likely lose at the Etihad Stadium even if they take the lead. It’s the stuff and quality of champions.