Los Angeles (AFP) – Ederson will reap the rewards from thwarting European football’s most potent attacking force, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola believes.
City romped to a 4-1 win over Champions League holders Real Madrid in Los Angeles on Wednesday, after a second half blitz saw Guardiola’s side secure a first pre-season victory.
However, prior to defender Nicolas Otamendi breaking the deadlock and changing the course of the game with the opening goal early in the second half, City had been indebted to new goalkeeper Ederson making several superb saves.
Ederson, signed for 40 million euros in June, prompted some question marks after a costly error in last week’s defeat to Manchester United.
Yet Guardiola is in no doubt that the 23-year-old is on course to become Brazil’s first-choice stopper.
“Of course it’s important for him,” Guardiola said of the strong performance on Wednesday. “We knew his quality. To make a performance like today, helps us a lot.
“Sooner or later, he will become the Brazil national team keeper.
“He saved many, many balls. He has the quality to read the situations and he put in a good performance.”
Two of City’s four second-half goals in the International Champions Cup tie came from corners with centre-halves Otamendi and John Stones both getting on the scoresheet.
Those two strikes were sandwiched by a cool finish from substitute Raheem Sterling after the impressive Kevin De Bruyne had a hand in all three goals.
“When Kevin’s mood is optimistic, he puts in performances like this,” Guardiola said. “It’s difficult to find a player with his quality, fight and movement anywhere in the world.
“He’s a guy who fights, passes and assists and many other things. Hopefully he can be positive like the last three weeks.”
After going 3-0 up, City were twice denied by the woodwork. Francisco Casilla produced a stunning finger-tip save to push De Bruyne’s free-kick onto the post and then Leroy Sane smashing the ball against the near post within seconds of entering the field.
But teenage substitute Brahim Diaz eventually added a fourth for City with a superb fourth goal, before Oscar Rodriguez grabbed a late consolation for Real with an even better strike.
– ‘Just a friendly’ –
Despite such an emphatic scoreline against the two-time reigning Champions League winners, Guardiola refused to get carried away by the magnitude of the victory.
“I want to convince them (that) playing in that way is the best way to achieve our dreams, our targets,” he said. “(I want them) to be aggressive without the ball, that is good for Manchester City. Real Madrid were champions of Europe for the last two times. Pre-season for them is not as important as it is for us.
“Of course it’s good for the confidence, to see the players with this intensity at this level.
“But it’s just pre-season. It’s just a friendly game.
“The result is nothing important. It’s the way we try to fight for each other which is the most important thing for our future.”
There was little hint of such a big win for City during the first half after Real had been in the ascendancy, with some eye-catching play in midfield. Isco, in particular, persistently stretched the City back-line with his range of passing.
Ederson was forced to produce smart saves to deny Isco, Karim Benzema and Casemiro, with the latter also heading against the post.
But once Otamendi smashed home on the rebound after Keylor Navas had kept out John Stones’s header, Zinedine Zidane’s side looked jaded and the Real boss swiftly introduced a full team of youngsters from the bench.
Zidane wasn’t too disheartened, drawing the positives from the opening 45 minutes.
“Ultimately it’s a bad result, but not a bad game,” Zidane said.
“My job is to look towards the next match and improve.
“I’ve been impressed by the youngsters. I’m very happy with all of them.”