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Manchester City 4-3 Real Madrid: Match Review



Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

After two hard-fought come-backs over Paris-Saint Germain and Chelsea, Real Madrid reached the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League earlier this month. On Tuesday night, they met Pep Guardiola’s side at Etihad in the hope of putting one foot into the final.

On the night, Ancelotti had his regular defensive line back in action with David Alaba, declared fit to participate too. In midfield, Federico Valverde replaced the injured Casemiro, while Rodrygo started alongside Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr in the attack.

The game did not start well for the visitors. Two minutes in and Los Blancos stared at a deficit.

Kevin de Bruyne was the one who delivered the first blow onto Ancelotti’s plan, as the Belgian international got onto the end of Riyad Mahrez’s magical cross.

Things went from bad to worse. Nine minutes later, the scoreboard showed 2-0 in favour of Manchester City. A defensive mistake from David Alaba gave the ball on a platter for Gabriel Jesus. The Brazilian made no mistake, slamming the ball into the back of the net.

Madrid recovered from the shock around minute 20, after which they began to create chances of their own. Eventually, they had their reward in the 33rd minute.

Karim Benzema was the one to pull one back for Real Madrid. Ferland Mendy initiated the attack with an accurate deep cross before the striker volleyed it past Ederson. It was a finish to remember from Benzema.

The second half brought with it more intense football, better chances and more goals. It took less than ten minutes for the scoring to restart after the referee’s whistle.

Phil Foden restores City’s two-goal margin in the 53rd minute, but the goal was only possible because of Fernandinho. The Brazilian darted down the right-wing and delivered a perfect cross into the box before the English forward headed the ball past Courtois.

Minutes after becoming the hero for his team, Fernandinho turned into the villain. The substitute’s error set Vinicius Jr free inside their half, and the Brazilian drove a low shot past his compatriot to make the score 3-2.

Despite seeing five goals on the night, one just knew that there was more to come. Bernardo Silva delivered that in the 74th minute to as he took advantage of a foul on Zinchenko and curled the ball into the top-left corner.

Ten minutes from full-time, Madrid earned a penalty as Aymeric Laporte was judged to have handled the ball.

Benzema stepped up to take the spot kick and converted it with brilliant technique, panenka-ing it past Ederson.

Three minutes were added on the night, but neither side could find the back of the net again. Heading into the Bernabeu, Real Madrid need to win by at least a two-goal margin to secure a spot in the final.

Final score: Manchester City 4-3 Real Madrid

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Three talking points from Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid | La Liga



Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid fell to a 2-1 defeat against Barcelona on their first trip to Spotify Camp Nou after more than a year.

The Catalans had not won against the Merengues at home since 2018 ahead of the game but a clutch goal from Franck Kessie helped them turn around the record.

Vinicius Jr opened the scoring early in the game by forcing an error and own goal from Ronald Araujo. The hosts levelled the score in the 45th minute through Sergi Roberto, before the winner arrived in stoppage time.

The game was not without its share of controversy as Real Madrid had a goal disallowed for offside that Ancelotti felt was unfair. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from the fourth Clasico of the season.

1. Quality of full-backs

Real Madrid have etched their names into history as one of the most deadly counter-attacking teams in world football. Their pacey transitions and shifts of play have traditionally progressed through the wing with unreal speed to catch the opponent off-guard even in a momentary lapse in concentration.

Needless to say, the full-backs have always worked in tandem with the team’s wingers to make such speedy counters possible. The glaring problem at Real Madrid currently is that their full-backs do not provide half as much as they need to.

Los Blancos’ counterattack now seemingly consists of only Vinicius Jr on the left wing making a quick transition to find Karim Benzema. With just one outlet, it is difficult for the men in white to be effective.

The story at Spotify Camp Nou was very similar. Dani Carvajal started as the right-back and had a good showing defensively. Yet, he was virtually absent in the final third and left Real Madrid’s right-wing lifeless. In ninety minutes, he managed no crosses or long balls and had just one key pass.

The story at left-back was equally, if not more abysmal. Nacho Fernandez was the candidate deployed in the position and could also not manage a single cross, long ball or key pass on the night. He was eventually substituted for Ferland Mendy but the Frenchman could not do much either.

The difference in the quality of full-backs between Barcelona and Ancelotti’s side is gaping. The Catalans blazed through the wings on the night with Ronald Araujo and Alejandro Balde who constantly got forward in attack to stretch the men in white. In response, Real Madrid had nothing.

2. A dead right-wing and lack of intensity

Carvajal had a forgettable game (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

It is imperative for any top football team to have the resources to attack both wings, for it is the constant switching of play that triggers errors from the opposition. For a club like Real Madrid to not have such resources is criminal.

The game against Barcelona was completely predictable given that the Merengues’ right wing was nonexistent. Any attack, almost surely, had to come down Vinicius’ wing and this made Barcelona’s defensive work easier.

Dani Carvajal was barely involved in the final third against the Catalans. That, coupled with Federico Valverde’s atrocious showing as the right-winger removed one side of the field from Real Madrid’s game.

Valverde made just 27 passes in 76 minutes and failed to make a single cross on the night. Further, he recorded just one key pass and one accurate long ball in El Clasico.

When Marco Asensio came on for Los Blancos, the equation completely turned around. The winger came on as a direct replacement for Valverde and happened to score the disallowed goal that was millimetres from giving Real Madrid three points.

More importantly, the move for the aforementioned goal was completely down the right flank, a testament to the alarming situation.

3. Goodbye La Liga?

When the clock at Spotify Camp Nou struck 81 minutes, the race for La Liga seemed to be on. Real Madrid had just scored a possible winner and had cut short their deficit with Barcelona to just six points.

Ten minutes later, the scoreline read 2-1 in favour of the hosts. Their lead atop the league standings was suddenly twelve points with just 12 games to go.

History is witness that counting out Real Madrid does not fare well. However, it is difficult to surpass the supposition that the 12-point gap is too wide to bridge.

Los Blancos will continue to fight in the league, but Ancelotti will likely preserve his weapons for the UEFA Champions League where they face a bigger chance at glory.

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