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Three talking points from Manchester City 4-0 Real Madrid



Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid never looked to be contending for a spot in the final last night when they locked horns with Manchester City in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinals. A passive display was all they could put out in front of Pep Guardiola’s determined group and the result is only fair.

A quick-fire double from Bernardo Silva handed the hosts a 3-1 lead on aggregate in the first half. After the break, Manuel Akanji rubbed salt into the Merengues’ wounds before Julian Alvarez hammered the final nail in the coffin.

Real Madrid’s season has now come to an end with no glory either on the domestic league or European front. While the season is far from a failure with three trophies, one knows that it is not up to the club’s high standards.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from Manchester City 4-0 Real Madrid.

1. Defensive miscalculation?

For Real Madrid to look so helpless against a team they effectively controlled just a week ago is absurd. After all, Manchester City deployed the exact same lineup on both occasions.

It is indeed unfair to point fingers at a specific individual after Real Madrid’s overall low-level last night. Yet, one is forced to wonder whether the reason behind Man City suddenly slipping past the visitors’ defence was linked to the only change in the lineup – Eder Militao for Antonio Rudiger.

The combination of Rudiger and David Alaba effectively kept the Sky Blues silent last week and barely gave them any spaces between the lines. Last night, however, City slipped through the Spanish club’s defence with ease time and time again in what was a no-contest.

One will never know how the game would have turned out with the same lineup as last week. While it is only natural to equate the difference in personnel with the altered result, one knows that Pep Guardiola’s side really upped their game and could have cruised through regardless.

2. Courtois’ unreal showing

Courtois pulled off some top saves. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Thibaut Courtois has always been one to turn up on the big nights. In a game where the entire team struggled with aspects as basic as maintaining possession, he was the one player who held his own.

It is almost ludicrous to call a goalkeeper the team’s best player after conceding four goals. Yet, the scoreline could well have read eight goals in favour of Manchester City if it were not for Courtois.

The Belgian was at his imperial best on Wednesday night and single-handedly denied Erling Haaland a goal despite a plethora of chances falling the Norwegian’s way.

In 90 minutes at the Etihad Stadium, the goalkeeper made four saves including three from inside the box. He had two punches and two high claims to his name in addition to three vital clearances.

One is specifically reminded of his reflex save to deny Haaland from a close-range header in the 21st minute to keep the scoreline at 0-0.

His contribution in the 73rd minute was another piece of art as he denied the Norwegian once again from point-blank range with an unbelievable reflex deflection. All this came while he was reportedly carrying an injury!

3. Outplayed and outdone

There is not much one can say in favour of Real Madrid after such a painful drubbing. After all, there is barely any silver lining for Los Blancos to hang on to.

The Merengues have earned the title of being perennial favourites in the UEFA Champions League through their usually strong mentality and powerful self-belief. Every time they appear to be down and out, their survival instinct has come to their rescue and pulled them out of muddy waters.

Yet, there was absolutely nothing Real Madrid could do on Wednesday night. The men in white were forced to see their demolition in silence as Manchester City gave them no space to mount any comeback.

Their defence was in a mess throughout and the flanks were easily penetrated. The relatively aged midfield was outrun by the hosts’ younger and in-form core and looked helpless against the relentless press.

Most importantly, the defending champions created no big chances and had just one shot in the entire first half. The forward line that boasted names like Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr was pocketed and effectively neutralised.

The massacre at the Etihad is a new low for Real Madrid and is expected to trigger big changes at the Santiago Bernabeu ahead of next season. Carlo Ancelotti’s job may be safe, but the administration see some big alternations required in the squad to ensure that such a result does not repeat.

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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.

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