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Three talking points from Real Madrid 1-1 Manchester City

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Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

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

Special. (Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images)

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.

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Three talking points ahead of Villarreal vs Real Madrid

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Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

Jude Bellingham, Vinicius Jr, Federico Valverde and Arda Guler were all on target when Real Madrid demolished Deportivo Alaves by a 5-0 scoreline midweek.

The win at the Santiago Bernabeu took the team to 93 points in La Liga, with the champion status already earned. The target now, however, is to reach the magical number of 99 points.

Tomorrow, Los Blancos step on the field for their penultimate league clash of the season as they lock horns against Villarreal.

Their opponents, currently placed eighth in the league, are fighting for a place in Europe and must win tomorrow at Estadio de La Ceramica if they are to remain in the race.

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

Can Bellingham maintain the steam?

Jude Bellingham’s dip in form towards the end of the season raised many concerns in the Real Madrid offices over his fitness and physical state. A mini ‘pre-season’ was said to be in the manager’s plan, especially keeping Bellingham’s recovery in mind.

The young midfielder, however, started the team’s game against Deportivo Alaves once more despite rumours of him being rested and dished out a classic on the night. His performance, in many senses, was one that announced his return to form.

In 90 minutes against Alaves, Bellingham scored one goal and provided two assists as the game ended 5-0 in Real Madrid’s favour.

Furthermore, the former Borussia Dortmund star recorded a staggering 121 touches, 99 passes, six key passes and created one big chance. He also completed four dribbles on the night and participated in eight defensive actions.

It thus becomes a serious question ahead of tomorrow’s clash as to how Carlo Ancelotti plans on managing Bellingham’s minutes.

The obvious approach would be to field the youngster from the start and reward his improved performance at the weekend. Concurrently, however, there is concern over the midfielder being overused which inhibits the manager from such a move.

Will Bellingham start against Villarreal or will the likes of Brahim Diaz or Arda Guler get a deserved start? Only time will tell.

Lunin’s heroic exit

Thibaut Courtois’ injury before the commencement of the new season left Real Madrid with a crisis in goal. The repercussions of the blow, however, were not as dire as expected courtesy of Andriy Lunin’s exceptional performances.

Lunin could play his final game of the season vs Villarreal. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Despite starting the campaign behind Kepa Arrizabalaga on the pecking order, the Ukrainian international has done enough to become the team’s primary goalkeeper across all competitions.

Only Courtois’ return last month displaced him from the starting lineup as the manager prioritised bringing the Belgian superstar back to full fitness.

Real Madrid now plan on starting Courtois for the big UCL final at Wembley next month.

While unfair on Lunin who deserves the start, one cannot blame Ancelotti for relying on the player who single-handedly kept the team in the game the last time they featured in a European final.

With Courtois set to start against Real Betis and Borrusia Dortmund, tomorrow could well be Lunin’s final game of the season for Real Madrid and the 25-year-old will look to depart with a bang.

Momentum is paramount

Real Madrid have already been crowned the champions of La Liga, and every game that remains in the competition at this point only serves as a practice encounter for the big challenge that lies ahead.

Los Blancos take on Borussia Dortmund in the finale of the UCL early next month, and only two games remain before the season-defining encounter. A lot, needless to say, will depend on how Ancelotti manages his squad for the two matches that lie ahead.

Considering that the calendar is no longer as hectic as it was a month ago, the manager could well field his best XI against Villarreal aiming to keep the momentum going for his side. After all, it is paramount at this stage in the season.

At the same time, however, the manager must rotate his squad ahead to give fringe players some deserved minutes and balance the playing time of regular starters.

Los Blancos, at this point, are unbeaten in 23 games across all competitions and have the momentum fairly on their side. Maintaining it with a positive result tomorrow irrespective of the final decision on the extent of rotations will thus be crucial for the Merengues.

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