Killer instinct and learning lessons – how Man City can kill off Real Madrid tie
Under the lights, in a cauldron of atmosphere in east Manchester, an unforgettable night of Champions League football unfolded before our very own eyes.
Last night Pep Guardiola welcomed 12-time winners Real Madrid to the Etihad for the first leg of a mouth-watering semi final. And the biggest stars in world football dazzled on the glistening grass at the home of the English champions in part one of this European epic.
City found themselves 2-0 up within 10 minutes with Kevin De Bruyne at the heartbeat of the attack, firstly heading in from Mahrez’s inch-perfect cross and supplying Garbiel Jesus with a fierce cross which the Brazilian slotted home from. Phil Foden and Mahrez both had golden opportunities to extend the lead but failed to convert, leaving the door slightly ajar for the Spanish side and talisman Karim Benzema.
And you can’t do that to a team with the amount of quality that Real Madrid have; City found that out the hard way. Benzema converted from Ferland Mendy’s cross to half the deficit. This is something City will need to be wary of in a week’s time.
Going into the second leg, the home side know it is not going to be plain sailing, Carlo Ancelotti’s side have the bit between their teeth as they did in the second half at the Etihad. Foden’s header restored their two-goal lead before Vinicius Jr’s dummy left the City captain Fernandinho stranded on the halfway line as the winger ran through and slotted past Ederson.
The home side were able to bounce back once again when Bernardo Silva reacted fastest to the referee playing advantage and his shot whistled into the top corner, leaving Courtois stranded and the Etihad in a state of bedlam. Once again, Madrid reduced their deficit, with an ice-cold Panenka penalty from Benzema following Aymeric Laporte’s handball.
The game finished with City taking a one-goal lead to the Santiago Bernabeu next week. And breathe.
Pep Guardiola will know that City should have been out of sight in the first half and they have been left to rue missed chances. They will need to have the same purpose going forward and be able to exploit the space behind the Madrid defence.
City have to find their killer instinct to be more clinical and ruthless in front of goal in order to progress to their second-ever Champions League final. But also they need to be more aggressive off the ball, to try and suffocate the creative players in Ancelotti’s side and have their foot on the gas for the whole game.
Vinicius and Benzema were the dangermen for Ancelotti’s side and so the City’s back line will have to be on top form. City did not have a orthodox right back with John Stones starting there before being replaced by Fernandinho.
Guardiola will be hoping that Kyle Walker will be available for the return fixture so that Vinicius can be nullified effectively.
Luka Modric and Toni Kroos’ passing range can also be another way of penetrating the City defence as they did against Chelsea in the previous round, so most likely, Rodri may be tasked with thwarting their attempts.
It is one of most anticipated semi-final second legs in recent memory, can Manchester City keep their cool and book their flights to Paris?