Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Manchester City
The last time Manchester City stepped on the grasses at the Santiago Bernabeu, they did not enjoy the greatest of outings. The Premier League champions suffered and toiled for 90 minutes but were eventually eliminated from the UEFA Champions League after a stunning comeback from Los Blancos.
A lot has been said about the repeat of last season’s semifinal exactly a year later. As the European giants prepare to face each other’s wrath one more time, many pundits have gone on to choose Pep Guardiola’s side as the better team on paper. Yet, being the underdogs has always suited Los Blancos.
With the likes of Erling Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, and Jack Grealish leading the English attack, tomorrow’s clash might be Real Madrid’s biggest test all season.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of the first leg of Real Madrid vs Manchester City.
1. Two almost unblemished squads
Both Manchester City and Real Madrid have had their fair share of scares earlier in the month with injury setbacks.
The Merengues risked missing the likes of Luka Modric and David Alaba on the night through fitness troubles. The former’s hamstring injury had him completely ruled out of the first leg while the Austrian was on the borderline with his return date too.
However, Both stars will be available at Santiago Bernabeu come Tuesday night. Alaba started in the Copa del Rey final and is expected to start once again midweek. Meanwhile, Modric was used more cautiously against Osasuna with this very clash in mind.
Three players, however, will be unavailable on the night for the Italian manager. Dani Ceballos is in the squad but will miss the clash through injury while Ferland Mendy and Eder Militao must sit out through injury and suspension, respectively. Needless to say, it is the latter’s absence that is more worrying.
Pep Guardiola, for what it’s worth, will also have a close-to-complete squad on the night. Kevin De Bruyne’s swift recovery from a minor setback brings him back into the thick of things and instantly elevates the quality of the English champions.
With two almost complete squads taking on each other in tomorrow’s game, there is no excuse for anything other than a cracking game of football.
2. 12 vs 11
After his team’s victory against Osasuna at Estadio de La Cartuja over the weekend, Carlo Ancelotti made an interesting statement in his post-match press conference pertaining to the UCL Semifinal clash.
“We will have an advantage vs City on Tuesday: our fans at the Bernabeu. We will play 12 vs 11. We will fight for the Champions League. We will do everything possible to play another final.”
There is more depth to Ancelotti’s words than there appears to be at first sight. After all, it was in front of the Bernabeu crowd last season that the men in white managed to complete the comeback over Manchester City.
This time around, the second leg will be played at the Etihad Stadium. The reversal of grounds implies a reversal of advantages when compared to last season and it is thus critical that Real Madrid capitalise on tomorrow’s game.
The importance of a lead heading into the second leg cannot be understated in a game of such high stakes.
Pep Guardiola’s team boast of one of Europe’s finest defences, and it is thus critical that they do not have a lead to defend heading into the second leg at home. After all, if such a situation arises where a draw would suffice for the Blues to progress, one would back their defence to do so.
3. The ghosts of last season
The ecstasy of putting three late goals past Manchester City to complete one of the UEFA Champions League’s best comebacks took the team to euphoria last season. After that win, few doubted the Merengues‘ chances against Liverpool in the final.
However, one must remember how dangerously close Real Madrid stared elimination in the eye just seconds before the 90-minute mark on the night. With a two-goal lead on aggregate, Manchester City were well-placed to qualify and only Rodrygo’s clutch goals turned the situation around.
In fact, Pep Guardiola’s side was the better team across the two legs last season. To come back with 15 minutes of brilliance is indeed Real Madrid’s greatness, but such luck may not work out this time.
If Manchester City was a beast last season, they have upgraded significantly in 2022-23. The signing of Erling Haaland has taken the Premier League champions to the next level.
If the Blues could put five goals past Los Blancos without the world’s most lethal striker, there is no end to what they can do with Haaland on the field. Real Madrid can not afford to ride on the success of last season and hope for a miracle. This time, it is only they who can rescue themselves.
Leave a Reply
Leave a Reply
Real Madrid vs Athletic Club: End of an era, farewells, tight race for second place
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?
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
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
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.
May 9, 2023 at 9:03 am
A very big stake between a Champions league veteran Club and the other in the form of its life. On paper and latest form, one might not hesitate to give it expressly to Man City as they are arguably the best team world over at the moment. Madrid being a team that easily prove her doubters wrong makes one to apply a clutch slowly. All the same, I’ll still give it to Man City if they can sustain Madrids resilience. To Madrid, it’s not over until it’s over. It’s a match neutrals stand to enjoy.