Crouch: Man City won't win Champions League with current defence

Pep Guardiola has failed to make it past the quarter-final stage of the competition in his three seasons at the club

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Manchester City cannot win the Champions League with their current defence, despite the “magnificent” result at Real Madrid, says former Liverpool striker Peter Crouch.

City came from behind to stun Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 encounter at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.

But Europe’s elite prize has eluded Guardiola ever since he took over at the club, and Crouch believes it will continue to do so until City can solve their defensive problems.

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“Manchester City are a wonderful team,” Crouch told the Daily Mail. “I could happily sit and watch them play all day every day, and those feelings were reinforced on Wednesday.

“Winning in the Bernabeu was a magnificent achievement but let’s not kid ourselves and pretend that this Real Madrid team are comparable with any of the giants that went before. 

“However, it is still huge to beat them in their backyard – City are only the third English side to do it, remember.

“City gave the Premier League its best European result of the season in Madrid but they didn’t convince me that they are going to go all the way to the final in Istanbul.

“The reason is simple. They may have Kevin De Bruyne – who, I believe will go on to surpass David Silva’s impact at City if he remains at the club for a few more years – and Sergio Aguero and Ederson, who is such a wonderful goalkeeper, but they do not have a defence to match.”

Guardiola has been left short for options at the back this season, and has come under fire for deciding against signing a replacement for Vincent Kompany, who left last summer after 11 years at the Etihad.

The Spanish boss was then left to rue his failure to replace the Belgian as Aymeric Laporte was ruled out for several months with a knee injury, with John Stones also missing a large chunk of the season.

Laporte has since returned to the pitch, before being ruled out for a further month after suffering a hamstring injury in the victory over Madrid, a problem which Crouch believes will have a devastating impact on City for the rest of the campaign.

“There comes a point in Europe when you win because of the goals you prevent rather than the goals you score and City are always susceptible to conceding,” he added.

“Watching the Madrid game made me wonder what would have happened had they, rather than Liverpool, signed Virgil van Dijk two years ago.

“They would have been so far ahead of the rest and I’m sure they would have conquered Europe by now.

“This, it must be stressed, is not a criticism of Laporte. He is terrific but he cannot do it all on his own. When he is not around, City look vulnerable and his absence, which Pep Guardiola has put down to hamstring damage, will be felt over the next month.

“Guardiola must hope that does not prove to be the case, particularly when Madrid arrive for the second leg in the middle of March.

“Keeping clean sheets in knockout games has been an issue since Guardiola has been at the club.”

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