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Nick Cushing and Jill Scott talk after Atleti draw

Cruising for periods against Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their UEFA Women’s Champions League round of 16 clash, Manchester City will take heart from their performance despite conceding a late equaliser.

Following the match, we spoke to coach Nick Cushing and midfielder, Jill Scott about the match and preparations.

Having been knocked out by the same opposition in the round of 32 the previous season, Cushing was quick to hold his hands up and admit that not only was the team not at their best when the two sides sparred last season but he could have done a better job in preparing.

They were a little unknown to us last year and we were out of balance last year, a few things happened to the team and we didn’t… I’ll be honest, I don’t think I picked the right team away to Atletico and I put the team under pressure and I’m okay to accept that and I wasn’t going to do it again tonight and we showed that we’re capable of winning the game and we’re capable of winning the second leg.”

With the away goals rule in play, the coach wasn’t going to let the scoreline change his approach to the second leg, as he said,

The away goals means zero as we had it last year and got beat. We’ve got to do exactly what we had to do in the first instance, try not to concede goals and try to score, we don’t want to reply on away goals.”

Atleti, a side that can be ruthless in attack, were left wanting for stretches of the match, and although recent upheavals behind the scenes in Madrid might have contributed to their slightly off-colour performance, there is still a lot to be said for the way the Citizens handled their opposition.

I think we are very organised, we work a lot on our positioning and we do stop a lot of counters and they have a threat up front with the pace and we’ve got to be applauded for nullifying that. If you switch off for a moment there’s always going to be players who can produce individual brilliance,” said Scott.

With the new Atleti coach only having had one match in charge of the Spanish champions, the studious tactical analysis employed at many football clubs could have easily gone out the window but as well as City doing their due diligence, Cushing insists that adaptability will always be key in football.

We played Chelsea in a Conti Cup game last year and they played 4-2-3-1 all year and they played 3-5-2 against us and you have to be prepared to adapt against teams. The game is so random and you can use trend and look at teams and I could have looked at that coaches previous teams and see what system he played, we expected them to play 4-2-3-1 because that’s what he played at his old clubs but they also played 4-4-2 and they played that very well, who knows what they’ll play the next game.”

He finished, referencing City’s next opponent, “Who knows if Man’ United will play 4-3-3 like they’ve played all season, our job is to prepare for playing top level football and experienced players can adapt in the moment.

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