Connect with us


Three talking points ahead of Manchester City vs Real Madrid



Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

In less than 24 hours, one of Real Madrid and Manchester City will feel the confetti rolling over their shoulders. Indeed, the clash between the two European sides is only a semifinal, but the sheer quality of football in the tie has been nothing less than a grand finale.

The winner on Wednesday night will be the undisputed favourite to take home the UEFA Champions League. In either case, a special storyline awaits – an incredible title defence for Real Madrid or a special first for the Blues.

Manchester City may have the home advantage on the night, but Real Madrid are the perennial favourite in the UCL for their sheer determination and ability to turn up when required. The game at Etihad will be the biggest fixture in club football this season, and the hype is justified.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Manchester City vs Real Madrid.

1. A clash of champions

The ninety minutes of football that graced the Santiago Bernabeu last week had every supporter on the edge of their seat. The prospect of Europe’s two best teams taking on each other had generated great expectations and it is safe to say that it did not disappoint.

The game may not have had goals aplenty, but that was not for a dearth of trying. Very little separated the two teams on the night and the low-scoring encounter was the result of an equally weighted attack and defence balancing each other out on both halves of the field.

The two European giants now take each other on for the second time in two weeks. Once again, they begin with parity on the scoreline but do not have the luxury of a cushion to fall back on this time around.

Nothing less than a win will suffice for Carlo Ancelotti’s men heading into the away leg of a difficult tie. The final promises a relatively easier outing and a win tomorrow could go a long way in assuring the Merengues of a title defence.

All eyes will thus be on Ancelotti tomorrow as to what strategy he brings to the Etihad. Going by Manchester City’s style of play, however, one could expect a more defensive and cautious approach with the hope of striking gold on the counter.

2. The Militao muddle

Rudiger or Militao against City? (Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP via Getty Images)

When Eder Militao was ruled out of the first leg against the Premier League champions, many gave Manchester City the edge over Real Madrid. After all, such has been the influence of the Brazilian international on Real Madrid’s defence from both a consistency and leadership point of view.

Ancelotti thus opted to start his next-best duo of Antonio Rudiger and David Alaba on the night. In the ninety minutes that followed, the German-Austrian combination belittled the visitors’ attack with precise tackles and wonderful reading of the game.

Now, Ancelotti faces a dilemma. Militao’s availability would normally place him as one of the first names on the team sheet. Yet, to change a tried and tested formula might prove suicidal in a game of such tight margins.

Moreover, Militao’s form in recent games has been far from convincing. One is specifically reminded of the Brazilian’s gift to Real Sociedad in La Liga not so long ago and the 4-2 thrashing to Girona.

There have been talks of starting all three defenders to build a wall around Erling Haaland but it appears that such a drastic change will not be made at a critical stage in the competition. Needless to say, a lot rides on Ancelotti’s selection of the centre-back department on Wednesday night.

3. Ancelotti’s trump card

One of Real Madrid’s most improved players under Ancelotti has been Eduardo Camavinga. The Frenchman has seen a steep bullish period for his stocks this season and has been rapidly progressing from strength to strength.

The left-back situation, however, has tied him down to a position he would not normally play at. Given the team’s acute shortage of options, Camavinga has been forced to operate on the left of defence repeatedly this season and has thus seen his productivity decrease.

The youngster has now become an experienced campaigner at left-back. His special display in the first leg is a testament to the same, given that he effectively controlled Bernardo Silva down his flank and weakened the English team’s attack.

On Wednesday, the Frenchman could finally feature in the middle of the park for Los Blancos. Ferland Mendy’s return from injury frees him from the unconventional position, and Camavinga could thus be Ancelotti’s trump card.

The youngster is expected to start alongside Luka Modric and Toni Kroos in midfield and will be a key pillar in progressing the ball forward on the break. Further, his work rate off the ball will give Real Madrid a big advantage in the midfield battle.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Real Madrid vs Athletic Club: End of an era, farewells, tight race for second place



Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Real Madrid will walk down the tunnel of Santiago Bernabeu one last time this season on Sunday night. The men in white are pitted against Athletic Club on their final match-day, and the game will not be an easy affair by any means.

The Basque side sit in seventh place on the league standings with 50 points in 37 appearances. However, their qualification for the UEFA Conference League is in danger with Osasuna lurking close behind with an equal number of points.

Anything less than a win could prove insufficient for the visitors and it is clear that they arrive at Santiago Bernabeu with nothing less than a win on their agenda. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Athletic Club Bilbao.

1. The end of an era for the number 9 shirt?

Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images

The grey area around Karim Benzema’s future has only widened in recent days. From a situation where his continuity at Real Madrid was taken for granted, it did not take long for the Frenchman’s story to enter a steep deviation.

An economically tempting proposal from Saudi Arabia had Benzema seriously contemplating a move away from Santiago Bernabeu, and reports stated that his departure from the Spanish club was close to complete.

The world, thus, looked in anticipation of his next official interaction with the media. The Ballon d’Or winner publicly addressed the topic for the first time earlier this week, and it is safe to say that his words gave nothing away.

Benzema neither confirmed nor completely refuted the rumours of his exit to the media. His situation is balanced on the blade of a knife and could tip in either direction.

In that sense, there is a good chance that tomorrow’s clash at Santiago Bernabeu is Karim Benzema’s final game for Real Madrid. If the striker does choose to change loyalties, it would mark the end of an era for the team’s number nine position.

It has been over a decade since the Frenchman took over the prestigious kit. He has played 647 games for the club so far in his career, scoring a stunning 353 goals in the process. Of them, 98 have been match-winning contributions.

2. A day of farewells

Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Earlier today, Real Madrid announced the departure of Marco Asensio from the club. The Spanish winger appears set to sign for PSG for the 2023-24 season and will bid adieu on Sunday. However, he will not be the only player playing his final game for the club tomorrow.

Nacho Fernandez has been a critical part of Real Madrid’s success in recent years but is another name close to sealing an exit. The defender is not satisfied with the playing time under his belt at the club and has not yet responded to the renewal offer on his table.

With his contract running out in less than 30 days, he appears closer to leaving than staying. One can expect an announcement from Nacho on Sunday night after the game at the Bernabeu, which could be his final game in white.

The situation with Dani Ceballos is quite similar. The Spanish midfielder is still undecided on his future, although there is still a slight chance he could continue at the club. Staying on the subject of players making their final appearance, however, he could be one on the list.

Away from the stories of incomplete renewal negotiations, Mariano Diaz is one player whose departure from the club is confirmed. Ferland Mendy, Jesus Vallejo, Alvaro Odriozola and Eden Hazard are some of the other candidates well-placed to make departures, although nothing can be said for sure.

3. A tight race for second place

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

There is not much to play for on Sunday night except for the emotional tag of it being the season’s final game. Yet, the men in white will not be without an objective against Athletic Club.

Los Blancos sit on 77 points in 37 league appearances this season and just have a one-point lead over third-placed Atletico Madrid. Needless to say, they must be vary of their position on the standings for any complacency could see them drop down the ladder.

Diego Simeone’s men take on fifth-placed Villarreal at the same time as Real Madrid’s game against Athletic Club. Even if Carlo Ancelotti’s men settle for a draw against the Basque side, the second place would be Atletico Madrid’s to lose.

With both games kicking off simultaneously, there will be nerves throughout the ninety minutes in Madrid. One can only hope for action-filled games to keep the anxiety and adrenaline high.

Continue Reading