‘Even the players don’t know before the game starts what they need to do’: Matchwinner Kevin de Bruyne admits Manchester City stars were ‘surprised’ by Pep Guardiola’s selection for comeback win at Real Madrid after key men were left on the bench
- Pep Guardiola raised eyebrows by benching Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling
- He also pushed Gabriel Jesus out wide and played De Bruyne down the middle
- De Bruyne said: ‘The players don’t know before the game what they need to do’
- He added: ‘Some [changes] were good. I think we had some lesser moments’
Kevin De Bruyne has admitted Manchester City players were ‘surprised’ when they learnt the line-up before the Real Madrid game on Wednesday night.
Pep Guardiola raised eyebrows by benching Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling, while Gabriel Jesus was pushed out wide and De Bruyne played down the middle.
De Bruyne said: ‘I think, the four years we’re here with Pep, there are some surprises [within the squad], and even the players, they don’t know before the game starts what they need to do.
Kevin De Bruyne admitted ‘surprises’ in Manchester City’s squad when they learnt the line-up
Pep Guardiola (pictured) raised eyebrows by benching Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling
De Bruyne said: ‘The players, they don’t know before the game starts what they need to do’
‘Some [changes] were good. I think we had some lesser moments. In a quality game like this, you’re going to struggle sometimes, but I thought we really fought really well together.’
His remarks were echoed by former England goalkeeper Joe Hart, who said in the studio a conventional City line up would have beaten Madrid by more.
De Bruyne went on to hail his side’s character after they fought back from a goal down to beat Real Madrid 2-1 at the Bernabeu, putting them in pole position to claim a quarter-final spot.
City were dealt an early blow when they lost Aymeric Laporte and were forced to draft in Fernandinho at the back again.
City’s strong first-half showing hit a snag when Aymeric Laporte was forced off with injury
Real Madrid playmaker Isco wheels away in celebration after giving them the lead against City
And a defensive error saw Isco pounce and put the hosts ahead on the 60-minute mark.
Yet Jesus equalled things up when he latched on the end of a De Bruyne cross and headed the ball past Thibaut Courtois, who many may feel should have done better.
Sterling, who came on as a substitute in the 73rd minute, made a darting run at the Madrid defence and was hacked down in the box by full back Dani Carvajal.
After City have failed to convert from the spot countless times this season, De Bruyne stepped up to quell fears and roll it past Courtois.
City were awarded a penalty when Dani Carvajal (left) hacked down Raheem Sterling in the box
De Bruyne scored from the penalty spot to put them 2-1 up in their Champions League win
The Belgian’s spot kick made City the first English side to win in the Bernabeu for 11 years.
Real captain Sergio Ramos was sent off in the closing stages for bringing down Jesus as Madrid struggled to cope with City’s attacking play.
De Bruyne told BT Sport: ‘It’s a very good start for the first game. The first 15 minutes we struggled for a bit but you have to go through the storm.
‘It was a pretty even first half and we started the second half pretty well. The (Real) goal came at a bit of a bad moment for us because I think we were dominating at the time.
‘I thought our response was brilliant. It was a beautiful goal from Gabi and the second goal, the penalty was very important for us.’
De Bruyne was mobbed by his team-mates as they celebrated their five-minute salvo to win
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