OLI SCARFF/Getty Images
March 15, 2017
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said attack will be the best form of defence against Monaco on Wednesday night, as the French club have what it takes to end the team’s UEFA Champions League dream.
City head to the principality for the second leg of their round-of-16 tie having won the first leg 5-3 at the Etihad Stadium. It means an attacking Monaco team will have even more motivation to push forward at the Stade Louis II.
Given the potency the Ligue 1 side have shown in front of goal this season, Guardiola has stated his players must meet fire with fire, per Jonathan Smith of ESPN FC:
When one team scores  goals, it means they can score in many, many, many ways, so the best way [to beat them] is to score goals.
Take the ball and attack as much as possible is the only way I know to beat this type of team. If one team scores  goals and you are thinking about only defending for 90 minutes because we won one game 5-3, you kill yourself.
Maybe it will happen because we won’t be able to attack or won’t be able to control their fantastic attack. That can happen but the idea is to try our way to play.
OLI SCARFF/Getty Images
The first leg between these two teams was an encapsulating contest. City led, then trailed 2-1, while Radamel Falcao missed a penalty to make it 3-1 to the visitors. The Premier League side then pulled the match back twice at 2-2 and 3-3 before going on to score two late goals.
It was 90 minutes of breathless attacking football that epitomised the offensive strength of these two teams.
Thanks to their goalscoring exploits this term, this Monaco setup is the most clinical in the club’s history:
Bleacher Report UK @br_uk
On-fire Monaco have set a club record for goals in a Ligue 1 season…with nine games to go. 🔥 https://t.co/1Ew3lnRf9W
3/11/2017, 9:25:10 PM
City saw exactly why in the first leg, as the visitors thrilled for the first hour of the contest. While he spurned the chance from the spot, Falcao is revitalised this season, while Kylian Mbappe is a star in the making. On the flanks, Monaco have the guile of Bernardo Silva and penetration of Thomas Lemar to call upon.
On home soil, Jardim’s side will be a force to be reckoned with, and that’s why, despite their two-goal advantage, this tie is far from finished yet.
City eventually won a thrilling first leg 5-3.PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images
But with the talent at Guardiola’s disposal, it’s also easy to see why City will seek to attack on the night. Indeed, in recent weeks, the front three of Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling has been a joy to watch for the Manchester outfit.
As noted by Eurosport UK, having been integrated back into the side after losing his place to Gabriel Jesus earlier this year, Aguero has been among the goals again:
Eurosport UK @Eurosport_UK
6 goals in 5 games for Sergio Aguero, who is pretty unplayable at the moment…
#MFC 0-2 #MCFC https://t.co/Bh2k0AfsvQ
3/11/2017, 1:44:24 PM
City need to be careful in the second leg. Monaco may have been defensively brittle at the Etihad in the first encounter, although in the main they’ve got the balance right in Ligue 1 for much of the campaign. If they do so again, they’re capable of scoring two or three quick goals unanswered.
Guardiola will need his defence to be on alert, as they’re going to have to deal with an avalanche of attacks from the home side on Wednesday. But in Aguero, Sane and Sterling, City have the firepower to keep their opponents at arm’s length on the back of their first leg win.