The first leg of the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League at Etihad was a game to remember. Seven goals headlined the clash between Real Madrid and Manchester City, but it was finally the latter who emerged victorious.
Despite being in shambles defensively, the visitors showed a lot of character to pull back three goals on the night. They now face the daunting challenge of having to defeat Pep Guardiola’s side by at least a two-goal margin at the Bernabeu.
Karim Benzema scored the opening goal for Real Madrid before converting from the spot for his team’s third goal. Speaking to the media after the game, he highlighted the importance of the fans for next week’s must-win game.
“We will need our fans at the Bernabeu more than ever before.”
The 34-year-old missed two penalties in Real Madrid’s last game against Osasuna. However, he managed to convert from the spot last night at Etihad and said he retained confidence in his abilities.
“If you don’t take a penalty you will never miss it. I have a lot of confidence in myself.”
Speaking about his ambitions for the current season, he maintained that he placed the team over individual awards.
“Ballon d’Or? I want UCL and La Liga.”
Madrid have pulled off two unbelievable comebacks in the competition this season, and Benzema said that the team would never give up.
“We are very excited about this UCL and the important thing is that we never give up.”
Vinicus Jr scored the team’s second goal on the night, but expressed his disappointment at the result after the game.
“I can never be happy with a loss.”
Talking about his teammate Benzema and his imperious form, the Brazilian said,
“There are no words to describe how my brother Benzema plays. I hope he ends up winning La Liga, the Champions League and the Ballon d’Or.”
Source: Real Madrid TV
Ancelotti considering playing a makeshift centre-back pairing for Real Madrid against Valencia – report
Real Madrid will take on Valencia on Saturday, looking to maintain their solid lead at the top of the league table.
The Spanish giants are leading the standing with a six-point lead over Girona. A win against Valencia could help them solidify their position at the top while potentially opening up an opportunity to extend the lead to more than six points.
Heading into this game, though, Carlo Ancelotti is facing multiple setbacks, especially in the defensive unit, with Eder Militao, David Alaba and Thibaut Courtois still missing due to injuries.
This will once again put pressure on Ancelotti, as far as the team selection is concerned.
Rudiger & Tchouameni to partner at centre-back vs Valencia
Fortunately for the Real Madrid coach, much of his experimentations this season have worked, including Aurelien Tchouameni’s supreme performances at centre-back.
With that in mind, Diario AS reports Ancelotti is considering playing a makeshift central defensive pair against Valencia, comprising Antonio Rudiger and Tchouameni.
This is not the first time the young Frenchman will have to accompany Rudiger at centre-back. He did so earlier in the year when Real Madrid took on RCD Mallorca.
Interestingly, Real Madrid were able to retain a clean sheet, with Rudiger scoring the winning goal, in a narrow 1-0 victory.
What are Ancelotti’s other options?
Ancelotti will be hoping for a similar outcome this time around. However, it must be noted that the Italian will be boosted by the return of Dani Carvajal from suspension.
The veteran Spaniard can be an option at centre-back. But given the way how Tchouameni has impressed onlookers with his performances at centre-back, there is very little reason why he shouldn’t continue in the position.
Tchouameni has even been compared to Javier Mascherano by former Spanish coach Roberto Moreno.
Other than Carvajal, though, Nacho Fernandez is another option for Ancelotti. But the veteran defender is suffering with discomfort and Ancelotti has no plans to risk it.