Men's Team

De Bruyne: Rock solid defence helps us do our job

Kevin De Bruyne believes City’s defensive unit deserve the credit as they progressed into the Champions League quarter-finals with a 4-0 aggregate victory over Borussia Monchengladbach.

The Belgian opened the scoring in Budapest with a thunderbolt from the edge of the box after 12 minutes, before Ilkay Gundogan doubled our lead on the night five minutes later, coolly finishing off a swift counter.

But while the midfield duo will take the plaudits from a convincing 2-0 victory over our opponents, another shutout saw City edge closer towards another phenomenal record.

Pep Guardiola’s men have gone 695 minutes without conceding in the Champions League, surpassing Juventus on their march to the 2017 final to move second in the all-time rankings behind Arsenal’s vintage of 2005-2006.

And for De Bruyne, having a seemingly impenetrable defence allows him and City’s other attacking players to flourish.

He reflected: “It’s easier for us (attackers) when we don’t concede.

“I think it’s always important when you’re stable as a defence and as a team, it gives the whole team confidence.”

“It’s really nice for Ederson and the defenders, they’re there to try and stop the goals and I think the guys up front and in the middle try to stay in shape to help them whenever we can.”

With a place in the Champions League quarter-finals at stake, it was essential that Pep Guardiola’s men were quickest out of the blocks to try and put the tie to bed.

And they achieved just that, with City storming into a four-goal aggregate lead with the second-leg less than 20 minutes old at the Puskás Aréna.

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De Bruyne agreed that a quick start was a crucial factor behind our dominant display, meaning Monchengladbach had to commit bodies forward to find a way back into the tie.

“We were patient in the beginning and when we scored the two goals it gave us a little bit of a cover knowing they had to come out a little bit more," he said.

“I think we controlled the game and we had a few chances also in the second half.

“The second half was a little bit less, but that’s understandable with the games we’ve played and with a 4-0 aggregate.”

With the games coming thick and fast, Pep Guardiola switched back to a more recognised 4-3-3 from the 5-3-2 formation used to put Fulham to the sword at the weekend, with Phil Foden operating as a false-nine.

Taking to the pitch without a recognised striker has not been uncommon over the past few months, with rotation key as both Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero work their ways back to full fitness.

And De Bruyne insists that, whether a centre-forward is on the pitch or not, each player is aware of what is expected of them if they get the nod at the sharp end.

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“I think we try to make the movements into the box when we arrive up front and that’s different players in different areas,” he revealed.

“Sometimes it’s difficult but even when Gabby (Jesus) or Kun (Aguero) play it’s similar, they’re more named as a striker but do the same jobs.

“If they’re not there we try to maintain a good shape and come into good positions."