Three talking points from Real Madrid 1-1 Manchester City
The long-awaited first leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinal played out on Tuesday night at the Santiago Bernabeu as Real Madrid and Manchester City locked horns in the Spanish capital and the ninety minutes that followed did not disappoint.
Many claimed that Pep Guardiola’s side were the slight favourites on the night. However, there was nothing that separated the two teams as they contested toe-to-toe for every half-challenge.
Real Madrid appeared to have got their one-goal advantage through Vinicius Jr in the first half. However, Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne had other ideas as he put an unstoppable strike past Thibaut Courtois and into the back of the net to equalise.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from Real Madrid 1-1 Manchester City.
1. An even matchup
Real Madrid and Manchester City might just be the two best teams in world football at the moment. In an ideal world, the clash between the reigning Spanish and English champions should have been the finale of the UEFA Champions League.
Real Madrid represent the epitome of competitive football and have a core that would be any manager’s dream. The perfect amalgamation of youth and experience builds a mental fortress that cannot be broken and Tuesday’s performance reflected the same.
Meanwhile, Manchester City boast one of the world’s most flamboyant styles of football. Pep Guardiola has built a monster that has only got stronger with every passing year. The team is known to be an attacker’s paradise and has unsurprisingly flourished with the signing of Erling Haaland.
When the two teams met last night at the Santiago Bernabeu, the resultant match was a battle of evens. Both sides had their moments of luxury and an equal set of adversity over the 90 minutes and it is only fair that the game ended with the spoils shared.
In the ninety minutes that transpired at the Bernabeu, the visitors managed to edge out Real Madrid in terms of possession and pressure off the ball. Guardiola’s side defended and won the ball back voraciously and ended on the winning side of 43 duels on the night.
Man City had six shots on target and forced three saves from Thibaut Courtois. Yet, one knows that the English attack was not in full flow last night.
Los Blancos, meanwhile, were unperturbed by the disparity in possession. The Merengues made the most of their chances on the counter and posed a regular threat from all over the box. They recorded the game-high of thirteen shots and forced a whopping five saves from Ederson.
2. Two young stars turn up
The UEFA Champions League has historically been a paradise for Real Madrid. To date, there continues to be a special passion and overwhelming confidence in the stars dressed in white on the big European nights and Tuesday was no different.
Every player under Carlo Ancelotti’s command dished out a confident and reassuring performance against Manchester City. However, two young stars stood out on the night and possibly even deserved the man-of-the-match award.
Vinicius Jr is one of the world’s most dreaded wingers. His astute dribbling and lethal strike stood out once again last night as he single-handedly broke Man City’s spine in the first half to give his side the lead.
In 90 minutes, the Brazilian had two shots blocked and made one key pass. His statistic of five successful dribbles shows the grip he maintained over the left flank as he toyed around with John Stones and Kyle Walker.
The second standout at the Bernabeu was Eduardo Camavinga. The French prodigy’s importance in the setup and the significance of his display cannot be understated.
Starting as the left-back and having Bernardo Silva on his side of the field, Camavinga faced his toughest battle yet in the foreign role. Yet, such is the youngster’s talent and knack for the game that he effectively neutralised the Portuguese star and did not give him a sight of the goal.
The 20-year-old did not stop there and even made a tangible impact going forward. He recorded the assist for Vincius’ opener and made three key passes on the night in addition to a whopping fifteen defensive actions.
3. All to play for at Etihad
Real Madrid and Manchester City will face off one final time this season next week. The second leg of the tie is scheduled to be held at the Etihad, and it is safe to say that both teams have everything to play for.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side would have liked to secure an advantage heading into the away fixture. Yet, the 1-1 result that played out on Tuesday is not the worst that could have befallen Los Blancos. In fact, there are many reasons for the men in white to believe in their chances.
For starters, Real Madrid will be gifted with the key addition of Eder Militao on the night after he served his one-match suspension in the competition. Moreover, Los Blancos have enjoyed a special run in England so far this season and there is no reason that they cannot continue the same.
When the Merengues travelled to Anfield to take on Liverpool in the first leg of the Round of 16, they put five goals past Jurgen Klopp’s men. Their subsequent visit to the country saw them secure a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea. Next week, they will look to top the two results with a stronger showing.
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.