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John Stones explains how Manchester City destroyed Real Madrid in midfield in Etihad Stadium demolition in 2023



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Manchester City’s star defensive midfield and centre-back option John Stones has detailed how he and his teammates were able to dominate in the middle of the park against Real Madrid in last season’s UEFA Champions League semi-final second-leg.

It was the contest that saw Manchester City book their place in the UEFA Champions League final for the second time in the club’s history, and a night that saw the club achieve the feat in style with a demolition job over competition icons Real Madrid.

A 1-1 draw from the first-leg tee’d up a staggering 4-0 victory for City in the second-leg of the semi-final tie, with goals from Manuel Akanji, Julian Alvarez, and a brace from Bernardo Silva to win 5-1 on aggregate and set-up a final contest with Inter in Istanbul.

Speaking to the official Manchester City podcast this week, John Stones revealed that Real Madrid’s set-up enabled the hosts to run-riot through a combination of Rodri and himself from deeper in midfield.

“The way they set up, they allowed us to do that with (Toni) Kroos and (Luka) Modric following Kevin (De Bruyne) and Bernardo (Silva) on the other side,” Stones admitted. “They man marked them and created so much space for me and Rodri to get to the 18-yard box.”

Stones continued, “Once we got there it was about trying to move them about and out of their zone to create space. Kevin is the best in the world at making these runs in behind to cross the ball. We were patient once we got there.

“Sometimes I find a lot my runs when we’re high up the pitch, my movements are not to get the ball but to create space for other guys. My quality is not as good as theirs up there and I know that, I want to get them on the ball and let them do their thing.”

No Manchester City supporter will need reminding as to what happened next for the club as they travelled to Turkey in June 2023, although it was Rodri’s second-half effort that secured the club a historic Treble triumph only ever achieved before by Manchester United.

Pep Guardiola and his players defeated Arsenal in a hotly-contested Premier League title race last season, before securing an iconic win over Manchester United in a Wembley Stadium FA Cup final just a week later.