Pep Guardiola hinted that he had an idea of what he needed to change from Manchester City’s Champions League semi-final first leg at Real Madrid.
In the early stages of the second leg, as City kept Real penned back in their own half, it was clear whatever Guardiola tweaked was working, with the Blues racing into a two-goal lead and following it up with two game-killing goals in the second half.
Speaking after the game, winger Jack Grealish opened up on what exactly Guardiola changed – although he stopped short of revealing the full tactical plan incase Guardiola wanted to use it again in the final against Inter Milan.
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“It’s a bit sweeter when you’ve been there before and felt the pain of it,” Grealish said, referring to last year’s semi-final defeat to Real.
“To come back this year and play the way we did was unbelievable. You don’t get many teams in world football in the last 100 years that would do that to Real Madrid. We were much more aggressive with and without the ball. We didn’t let them breathe with our pressing. We were after them all the time. It worked.
“We did change stuff. When we’re here [at the Etihad ] especially we feel like we have the extra man with the fans. Just being on our home pitch we feel so comfortable – our record here is a disgrace of how good it is.
“We came out on the front foot and were relentless. We had quite a few tactical changes as well, but I don’t want to go into too much detail in case he wants to use them in the final. With the ball he told me to be more direct, be positive and I think I did that.”
Looking ahead to the final, Grealish insisted that City will have to be on top of their game again to get past Inter, even if the Blues will be heavy favourites in Istanbul.
“They’re a great team. You don’t get to the Champions League if you’re not a good team,” the winger said. “They have a lot of experience, and we know it’s going to be a tough game. Anything can happen in a final but before that we’ve got a lot of important games and we’ll focus on them for now.
“We know how good we are and the confidence and quality that we have. We’re obviously going to be confident going into the final but obviously it is a final and anything can happen. On the day, the best team will win.”