Manchester City have one foot in their first-ever Champions League final after a brilliant 2-1 victory in the first leg at Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday night.
Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez scored the goals after the break when they came from behind to win at the Parc des Princes.
It was a brilliant display of attacking flair in the second half from Pep Guardiola’s side as they imposed their tough football on their French opponents.
Ruben Dias (right) was brilliant in defense for Manchester City in their 2-1 win over PSG
He is the signing of the season and the basis of the defense of Pep Guardiola (center right)
Dias came over from Benfica for £ 64.3 million club record – compensation so far justified
But taking it easy on the back was their summer signing that justified his £ 64.3m transfer fee: Ruben Dias.
Dias simply has the best addition of any Premier League team this season.
The center-back participated in a Benfica club record fee in September, forming the basis in defense that City absolutely missed the final term.
“I am a player who loves to win, a player for the team, for the fans, a player who loves the family spirit that I have felt a lot since I have been here,” he said when he signed a six-year contract.
‘I am an aggressive player and I love what I do. I love the game and without going into too much detail because it is something that you will see when I start playing, the important thing to say is that I love to win and that is what you like the most about me must know.
‘I expect the Premier League to be the reason why I wanted to be a footballer. To have that feeling when I’m on the field, when my arms get goosebumps.
‘That’s it, that feeling, you can’t even put it into words. To me the Premier League means all that and to be able to play in the Premier League at a top club like City, it doesn’t get much bigger than that. ‘
The Portuguese center-back has been virtually present since joining in September
The 23-year-old certainly lives up to his opening line if he wants to win a Treble in a glittering debut season at Etihad.
The first piece of silverware was secured on April 25 when City won the Carabao Cup final 1-0 against Tottenham.
Dias was part of the defense that kept the clean as they wiped out Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Co, reducing Spurs to just two shots that all came together and only one on target.
Just hours before City’s win at Wembley, their closest Premier League title challenger Manchester United dropped more points after being held up against a goalless draw in Leeds. That result means that table top players City are 10 points ahead of second-placed United with five games to go.
Now that the Premier League is as good as sealed, the focus is now on the Champions League. So far, Dias has proven its worth during the European elite club competition.
He won the Carabao Cup final on April 25 after overturning the threat from Tottenham’s Harry Kane
After scrolling through the group stage and final stage 16, City got a real test by pitting it against Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals.
The German giants can boast the red-hot and in-demand Erling Braut Haaland in their ranks, but Dias and his center-back John Stones kept him quiet on both legs as City won a total 4-2.
The same result occurred on Wednesday when Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappé and Neymar did not appear on the score sheet.
Mbappé was so lukewarm that French publication L’Equipe gave him a match-low score of 3/10 for failing to register a single shot.
It was Mbappé’s first Champions League game in his young career that this happened to him – underscoring the work Dias and Co have done on the PSG star.
Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland did not sniff Dias earlier this month
After the game, former City midfielder Owen Hargreaves praised City’s defensive side.
“They made Erling Haaland, who is an absolute goal machine, look pretty normal, which I’ve never seen anyone do,” he said.
Even Mbappé and Neymar had good moments in the game today, but City with John Stones and Ruben Dias really had them under control.
No side has conceded fewer goals than the 24 Manchester City let in the Premier League this season, while they only scored four goals in the entire Champions League campaign this season.
The impact of Dias in this cannot be underestimated.
PSG’s Kylian Mbappé got 3/10 from L’Equipe – that’s the defensive job he got
His forward Neymar didn’t fare much better against Dias as City kept them both at bay
City is much better on his side defensively. In 45 games in this campaign, City gave up just 23, meaning they got less than one goal per game (0.5). By contrast, in the nine games without the Portuguese, City has conceded this term 10 times – an average of 1.1 goals per game.
To underline his importance even more, City has a clean slate of 56 percent with their number 3. Without him, this drops to 44 percent.
“Ruben is a player we have admired for a while and we have been impressed with how he is making progress at Benfica,” said sporting director Txiki Begiristain upon Dias’ arrival in September.
‘He has developed into a true leader and as a defender has all the attributes we are looking for. It’s strong in the air, good in one-on-one situations and technically very good, so we’re confident it can thrive in our system.
‘He is young but has gained valuable experience at a major European club in Benfica and we are very happy to have been able to sign him. He’s another talented addition to the squad and one who will only get better under Pep. ‘
Fast forward seven months now and those comments are correct. City missed the departed club legend Vincent Kompany last quarter. Dias is more than filling that void of this campaign and, at the age of 23, seems to be the cornerstone of their side in defense for so much more.
At 23, Dias appears to be the cornerstone of City’s defense for many years to come
MANCHESTER CITY WITH AND WITHOUT SLIDES THIS SEASON
Average goals for
Average goals against