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
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.
Three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Granada | La Liga
Napoli fought tooth and nail for all three points against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu earlier this week. They took the early lead in the first half, then fought back to find an equaliser after Real Madrid put two past them.
In the end, however, they were outdone by the hosts’ resilience and never-say-die attitude. The result thus registered Real Madrid’s fourth win on the trot and twelfth game without a defeat.
The men in white must now look ahead to their next La Liga game scheduled to kick off in just over 24 hours. Faced against Granada in a critical matchday, the aim will be to take all three points and thus maintain a healthy position in the standings.
Ancelotti announced some key recoveries in his pre-match press conference and also confirmed that Jude Bellingham would be fit to participate on the evening. Yet, he is concurrently in a difficult moment in terms of squad fitness.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Granada vs Real Madrid.
A clash of two poles
While Ancelotti’s Real Madrid sit lavishly on the top of La Liga’s standings, their opponents for Saturday afternoon have quite a contrasting fate. Granada sit on the other end of the league table and find themselves in a desolate situation 14 match days into the season.
Granada are currently 19th in La Liga with just one win in 14 games, and have changed managers, with Alexander Medina replacing Paco Lopez. They have lost a staggering nine games and walked away with one point on four occasions.
Granada have only scored 19 goals all season while conceding on 33 occasions. Comparing the numbers to Real Madrid’s 31 goals scored and nine goals conceded speaks volumes about the form of both teams heading into tomorrow’s clash.
The visitors’ last win in La Liga came back in August, and it is safe to say that a victory vs Real Madrid will do them a world of good. They will be the underdogs at the Bernabeu, but nothing is impossible considering that they drew with Barcelona not so long ago.
Saturday’s clash will thus be interesting, to say the least. With the injury-inflicted league leaders taking on a relegation-threatened side, the script cannot be predicted.
The rising phenomenon
Real Madrid’s injury crisis has not been easy on the manager. Ancelotti has been forced to rework his dynamics time and time again with a new player falling prey to the endless pit in every game.
The Italian is now in a situation where he has only four players left in the middle of the park. Toni Kroos, Federico Valverde, Jude Bellingham, and Dani Ceballos all started Real Madrid’s last game but it was young Nico Paz who stole the headlines.
The youngster has risen to prominence in Los Blancos’ latest injury emergency and his prominence has only increased over the past weeks. In the team’s latest outing against Napoli, he was on the field for close to half an hour and scored a crucial goal in the 84th minute.
With a tight schedule ahead and limited resources at his disposal, Ancelotti must look to rotate his men in midfield. Paz, on that front, is the Italian gaffer’s best choice and must look to make the most of his minutes tomorrow.
The golden chance
The biggest talking point from La Liga so far has been Girona’s stunning run at the beginning of the season. The Catalan side surprised everyone with win after win and stole the headlines by retaining the sole lead in the league until match day 13.
After six straight wins, Athletic Club broke Girona’s streak last weekend with a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Estadi Montilivi. Having dropped two points, they are now level with Real Madrid in the standings with 35 points in 14 games.
It will thus be Ancelotti’s objective to take all three points against Granada and make a strong push towards taking the lead over Girona. After all, the co-leaders face a difficult opponent in Valencia and could well drop points.
Moreover, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are set to face off later this weekend. One, or both of the Spanish giants will drop points on the night, thus giving Real Madrid further impetus to gun for all three points tomorrow.
Considering the team’s good run of form in recent games, the dressing room will be confident about securing the much-needed result.