Peter Crouch: Man City must rebound v Newcastle or they could finish season with nothing

We go again

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City’s Madrid Nightmare

Man  City got four goals in the first leg but it could’ve been more. I suppose they just didn’t score enough, especially when they let in three. They really could’ve been out of sight.

In Madrid, it was more controlled, but in the last couple of minutes Real were clinical, just like in previous rounds.

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They know how to stay in the games.

When I was Stoke that’s what we always focussed on – just stay in the game because you never know what can happen. Keep it 0-0, or even just hold on at 1-0 down against a better side because that one chance can always come and you nick a draw or a win.

MADRID, SPAIN – MAY 04: Oleksandr Zinchenko of Manchester City looks dejected as he is consoled by Pep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City following defeat in the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Leg Two match between Real Madrid and Manchester City at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 04, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

They clearly have huge belief in themselves and what they’re doing to keep fighting back.

City must be devastated after the turnaround – they were in total control of both legs and somehow lost.

Sub-par Pep?

Pep Guardiola took off a few key men in the second half, but he thought the game was won. I can understand his thinking. Kevin De Bruyne wasn’t even playing very well, for instance.

He’ll get that stick but I don’t think that was a terrible decision. In that moment, in that game, De Bruyne looked off the pace.

Jack Grealish came on and looked good when he got his chance, we saw him sending people this way and that when he got the ball.

I know he wants to succeed so much, and he wants to be playing in all the big games.

Obviously he has loads of ability, so I do think he’ll come good at City – he’s just got too much talent not to! You have to keep faith in these players.

People will criticise Pep Guardiola now because, for whatever reason, City still haven’t got over the line in the Champions League, but they’re a top side still.

They’re on course for a possible third Premier League in a row. That’s not to be sniffed at.

You can talk about that like “they only won the Premier League this season” but it’s so hard to win it, they deserve credit for that even if they don’t win in Europe.

MADRID, SPAIN – MAY 04: Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City runs with the ball whilst under pressure from Luka Modric of Real Madrid during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Leg Two match between Real Madrid and Manchester City at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 04, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

City Goals

You do feel like for Pep and the owners and everyone at the club that they’re there to win the Champions League, that’s their big goal, and they can’t achieve it. It’s obviously the one they would’ve wanted most this season.

I know some City fans will say they only care about the league, but all the players and everyone around the team want it so badly. Now they’ll have to go again next season.

The longer they go without winning it, the more nervous everyone gets, and the games get bigger too. If you’ve won it before, you’re just more relaxed and that’s what you need in big games.

Newcastle rebound

I expect Man City to pick themselves up for Newcastle after that Madrid let down – I mean, they don’t want to finish the season with nothing, do they?

That could happen if they have a hangover from the Champions League exit because you just can’t see Liverpool losing. A game of that magnitude could be devastating for them and their season

I’ve been impressed with Newcastle since Eddie Howe came in as well. I was there for the Liverpool game and Newcastle did put it up to them, though you always thought the visitors would come out on top.

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They’re a lot tighter defensively and the new signings have slotted in well straight away.

The issue is goals. They can keep it tight – they kept Liverpool to 1-0 – but scoring is a different story. When Alain Saint-Maximin isn’t on it they’ll struggle. Chris Wood hasn’t really been firing.

It’s difficult to see them troubling City, who are too professional to let the European disappointment cost them the league. My gut feeling is they react very positively and get a comfortable win on Sunday.

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