Quick Takeaways From The Manchester City vs Real Madrid UCL Game
The beauty of the UEFA Champions League, beyond the quality on show, is the keen edge of anticipation heading into the second leg of a finely poised tie.
The Manchester City – Real Madrid game had it all. Goals galore, splendid saves, goal line clearances, boneheaded defensive plays and fantastic attacking play on both sides.
It also had two world-class managers, Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti, each doing their best to outwit the other and reach the final of a competition they have both won several times during their playing and coaching careers.
Here are some takeaways from Tuesday night’s Etihad entertainment:
Clash of Styles – Tightly Drilled Style of Guardiola Versus Reliance on Individual Brilliance of Ancelotti
At this point, we all know exactly how Pep Guardiola sets his team up to play. He obsessively sets out to control games, with the firm belief that as long as his team have the ball, the opposition cannot hurt them.
Real Madrid on the other hand, thrive in chaos and try to isolate their attackers against the other team’s defenders as much as possible.
The best games almost always involve a clash of styles such as the legendary Chelsea-Barcelona clashes, Real Madrid vs Guardiola’s Bayern and Inter Milan vs Pep’s Barcelona again. It was a similar story at the Etihad and neutrals must be buzzing to see at least another 90 minutes at the Bernabeu.
Man City Miss Their Chance To Put The Tie To Bed Early
Manchester City won 4-3 but their disappointment at fulltime spoke volumes. They knew they’d missed a golden chance to go to the Bernabeu with the game all but sewn up.
By the 20th minute, the tie could have been put to bed, such was the quality of the chances the city players were creating for fun. On another day, Real Madrid would have conceded as many as 7 goals. Luckily for the Spanish giants, they will meet again next Tuesday with the tie still well within reach.
As for City, they missed their chance and will hope the mistakes made on Tuesday do not come back to haunt them. In the English Premier League, they’re currently just a point ahead of Liverpool and cannot afford to make any slip-ups in the run-in.
They will also have noted how Real Madrid came back in the second leg of the semifinal to beat Chelsea on aggregate and will need to ensure that they do not get knocked out in a similar fashion.
Madrid Once Again Refuse To Roll Over
As the City attacks kept coming from all angles even after going 2-0 down, another team would have retreated, kept their shape and attempted to wait out the storm. But not Real Madrid.
Echoing the sentiments of the legendary Santiago Bernabeu, who once famously said “the Real Madrid shirt is white. It can be stained with mud, sweat and even blood, but never with shame”, the Madrid players went to work and fought back thrice to finish just one goal apart from an unbelievable City team.
They relied on luck, but the Madrid fans will not care one bit if their team rides that luck into their 17th UCL final and wins their 14th UEFA Champions League. Do not bet against them doing exactly that.
Benzema Putting Real Madrid on His Back Once Again
There were several exceptional players on the pitch at the Etihad stadium on Tuesday. Kevin De Bruyne was his usual effervescent self, Gabriel Jesus continued his recent fine form and scored a well-taken goal, Phil Foden continues to show that he belongs on this stage and Riyad Mahrez was unlucky to be denied at least two goals. However, the best player on the pitch was Karim Benzema.
The 34-year old French striker continues to age like fine wine. His brace against Man City means he has now scored 39 goals this season. More importantly, he kept them in the tie and ensured that Real Madrid hopes of a La Liga title and UCL double are still a possibility.
His inclusion in the Balon d’Or shortlist later this year will be well-deserved.
Gabriel Jesus Continues Recent Purple Streak. What Next for Him?
Gabriel Jesus has had an interesting ’21-22 season. With five games left to play, he has already contributed 15 G+A in just 17 starts this season including his amazing four-goal, one-assist performance against Watford. He then scored another against Madrid to double City’s lead.
The transfer grapevine has already started buzzing with news linking the Brazilian striker to Arsenal in the summer. His skillset will make him a valuable addition to the North London giants but there’s an argument to be made that if they sell him to Arsenal, Man City are letting a player they need leave prematurely.
Even if, as expected, Pep Guardiola gets the marquee striker he has desired for over two years now, Manchester City will still need players like Jesus who have the ability, desire and humility every successful squad needs to thrive.
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