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
Real Madrid World Cup Spotlight: Vinicius, Rodrygo, Militao advance to the Round of 16
The second round of group-stage fixtures in Qatar came to a close on Monday in what was a day of very high-quality football. The first two games alone accounted for 11 goals in what was the highest tally in a day in this edition.
The first game saw Serbia and Cameroon face off in an epic clash that saw no end of twists and turns. The game ended 3-3 with the teams sharing the points.
The next game saw South Korea go 2-0 down quickly against Ghana before coming back in the second half. However, the African side scored once again on demand to steer themselves to a win.
Brazil needed a late winner from Casemiro to break the deadlock against Switzerland in the third game and secured their spot in the Round of 16.
The last game between Portugal and Uruguay was expected to be a match of equals. That perception quickly changed when the Europeans produced a dominant performance and killed off the game with two goals.
Madrid Universal brings you an overview of the performances of Real Madrid players on Monday.
Vinicius Jr (Brazil vs Switzerland)
Over the past few years, Vinicius Jr has carved out a reputation for being a thorn in defenders’ feet, be it with his world-class dribbling or his antics. As one of the best young wingers in business, he stands out in chance creation even when faced against the best in the business.
However, it appeared like Silvan Widmer had Vinicius in his pockets for large parts of the game. The two created a fabulous battle down Brazil’s left-wing but it was often the Real Madrid player who came second best.
The youngster scored a goal in the 66th minute with a perfectly placed shot after beating his man. However, it was ruled out for an offside intervention after the VAR review.
Apart from sporadic moments of magic, Vinicius did not offer much. He had just one shot on target, completed just one of his five attempted dribbles and missed one big chance. Moreover, he did not complete a single cross accurately and lost more than 50% of his duels. But he was involved in the buildup to the goal.
Eder Militao (Brazil vs Switzerland)
After spending 90 minutes on the bench against Serbia, Militao received his first World Cup start on Monday night. However, the manager deployed him as the right-back as opposed to his usual position in central defence.
Despite playing in a foreign position, the Brazilian was convincing in defence and stopped the likes of Ruben Vargas and Ricardo Rodriguez.
Understandably, Militao did not look to burst into the final third and create chances like a traditional full-back but was still heavily linked in the build-up play. He completed 87% of his attempted passes, five out of eight long balls and even provided a key pass.
Rodrygo Goes (Brazil vs Switzerland)
After Brazil’s underwhelming first half, the manager turned to Rodrygo at the start of the second period. The youngster came on for Lucas Paqueta at halftime in an attempt to ramp up Selecao’s threat in the final third and the decision paid off.
It was the young sensation who assisted Casemiro’s goal in the 83rd minute. Receiving the ball from Vinicius, Rodrygo just flicked the ball away from defenders and into the feet of Casemiro to set up an ideal half-volley.
Apart from his assist, the Real Madrid man came painfully close to scoring in the 94th minute only to be denied by Manuel Akanji. He had one shot on target, one blocked, and a key pass.
Federico Valverde (Uruguay vs Portugal)
Uruguay have perhaps been the most disappointing team in the World Cup this year. The squad is filled with quality players from Rodrigo Bentancur and Darwin Nunez to Luis Suarez, Federico Valverde and Diego Godin.
The South Americans once again dished out an average game against Portugal, but it was Valverde who seemed the most inspiring in the Uruguayan team.
The in-form midfielder did not pose much threat to the goal on the night but worked like a machine off the ball. He recorded three interceptions, and two tackles, and won two tackles against Fernando Santos’ side in addition to a key pass and a big chance created.