Manchester City drew the curtain on their pre-season tour of Far East Asia with a defeat to La Liga giants Atletico Madrid in Seoul on Sunday afternoon.
Pep Guardiola began the game with a largely full strength line-up as the Manchester City boss looks to finalise his preparations this week for the club’s first competitive fixture of the new season.
Arsenal are the opponents in next weekend’s FA Community Shield clash, and Guardiola’s selection for the most-part of Sunday’s action was a possible hint towards how he could look to set-up at Wembley next weekend.
With a fluid attacking system that included Julian Alvarez, Erling Haaland, and Jack Grealish, as well as a midfield format featuring Bernardo Silva, Rodri, and Phil Foden, Pep Guardiola’s biggest challenge in the coming days will likely be how he looks to acclimatise to immediate life without Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan.
Perhaps the selection was also in part due to the expected frustrations that Atletico Madrid would cause Manchester City through their defensive set-up, and as such the first-half at the Seoul World Cup Stadium passed by without any breakthrough in front of goal.
It was not without trying for both sides however, and Manchester City thought they had found the back of the net first with Rodri heading home directly from a corner kick. The Spaniard – who has been at the heart of every success for the club in the last two seasons – was denied his second goal of pre-season however, after Atleti goalkeeper Jan Oblak was adjudged to have been fouled in the build-up.
In not so typical pre-season fashion, City made just the one change at the half-time interval, with Stefan Ortega Moreno replacing Ederson in between the sticks. That solitary switch was however followed up early in the second-half with eight outfield substitutions as Pep Guardiola looked to find a balance between earning his players much-needed match sharpness, and trying to win the match.
However, it would be the Spanish club’s changes that would make the match-deciding difference, as Diego Simeone’s side took the lead on 68 minutes courtesy of a Memphis Depay strike from distance.
The former Manchester United and Barcelona forward combined well with Angel Correa on the edge of the City penalty area before unleashing an unstoppable strike beyond a helpless Ortega. Some supporters may call into question the defensive work from Pep Guardiola’s side however, with a number of names seemingly unwilling to make a challenge or close down the combination play in such a dangerous position.
Depay would then turn provider eight minutes later to double Atletico Madrid’s advantage, this time offering the decisive assist for Belgium international Yannick Carrasco and inflict further damage on an already struggling City defensive set-up.
Manchester City would showcase a goal of their own to those in attendance at the Seoul World Cup Stadium however, with Ruben Dias powering home a header from a corner routine that was ultimately assisted by Sergio Gomez – who is likely looking to make more of a name for himself at the club in the attacking positions.
The goal from the Portugal international would unfortunately not make any difference to the outcome of the contest, as Manchester City hurried off from their defeat on matchday three of the pre-season jaunt to catch a return flight to England and finalise preparations this week ahead of next weekend’s Community Shield meeting with Premier League runners-up Arsenal in the capital.
Had very little in the way of serious tests at his goal in the 45 minutes of action he was involved in, but as always showcased his calm and composed on-the-ball qualities.
Kyle Walker: 7
Once again, the England international highlighted the importance of his pace in recovery as well as his experience in being able to read the game well.
John Stones: 7
Going from strength to strength as pre-season developed, providing plenty in midfield and defensive areas, whilst also proving his excellent abilities on the ball too.
Ruben Dias: 7
Most notable moment obviously being his bullet header late in the contest to halve the deficit, but struggled somewhat when being presented with Atletico Madrid counter-attacks.
Aymeric Laporte: 6
Work to be done on the distribution front if he is to earn that start in the Community Shield next weekend, but perhaps that could be credited to the playing surface at the Seoul World Cup Stadium.
Solid for the most part of his time on the field, but was almost punished in the centre of the park after giving away possession in a rare incident for the Spaniard.
Bernardo Silva: 7
Another outing that proved why Manchester City will be so desperate to retain his services beyond the summer transfer window. In and out of possession, Bernardo Silva was brilliant.
Phil Foden: 6.5
Came close to scoring an excellent goal for City, but frustrated onlookers by giving away possession of the ball on a number of occasions.
Jack Grealish: 7.5
In typical Jack Grealish fashion, the Englishman drew a yellow card from his full-back opponent Cesar Azpilicueta and proved to be a real issue for the Atletico Madrid defence all evening.
Julian Alvarez: 7
We got the usual lively showing from the Argentine international, who put in arguably his best showing of pre-season and linked up to greater success with the teammates around him.
Erling Haaland: 6
The Norwegian created plenty of problems with his movement in attack for Manchester City, but other than that failed to really test the Atleti goal with some tame efforts of his own. On the one year anniversary of that open-goal miss against Liverpool, I think we’ve all learned never to judge this man this early.
Stefan Ortega: 6.5
While the German could do absolutely nothing about the two goals that flew past him, Ortega did showcase his fine shot-stopping abilities to deny a header from Lino.
Joao Cancelo: 6.5
Another commendable outing from the out-of-favour full-back that is giving supporters, and perhaps the club themselves, plenty to think about with regards to his City future.
Manuel Akanji: 6
A difficult evening’s work from the Swiss international who struggled to deal with the threat of Atletico Madrid’s fast counter-attacking personnel.
Rico Lewis: 6
Beaten far too easily for Yannick Carrasco’s goal as Atletico Madrid broke away, ultimately allowing the Belgian to adventure into space to get his successful shot away.
Sergio Gomez: 6.5
Offered contributions in moving Manchester City into more attacking areas, and can be commended for an excellent corner-kick that was met by Ruben Dias for the club’s only goal of the night. Defensively, very little to note unfortunately.
Kalvin Phillips: 5
A really poor evening from a midfielder who is desperate to see an up-turn in opportunities this season. Questionable with his positioning for the first goal, and left his defence vulnerable after strangely pressing Atleti towards their own penalty area, only to allow a long-ball forward into an area he vacated. There’s still so much work to be done here.
Mateo Kovacic: 7
Capping off a very encouraging start to life with the Treble winners, and should have topped off another commendable performance with a goal of his own after squandering an opportunity from close range.
James McAtee: 6
Plenty in the way of electricity in attack for Manchester City, and with better end product on the day, he may have had an assist or two to his name.
Oscar Bobb: 6
Struggled to get into the game as he did in previous outings during the tour of the Far East, but perhaps to be expected against such a well-drilled defensive outfit in Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid.
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