Manchester City-Real Madrid: City crushes the champion
No.Or was there a fight? Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City overthrew the King of Europe with all of the law. For football, intensity, order and talent, beating a Real Madrid that couldn’t even compete. Inferior in the midfield, where matches and titles are decided, he remained with a decent score thanks to Courtois, who prevented three goals from Haaland with anthological saves. Such was the overall superiority of City that they did not even need the services of their gunner. Rodri governed, Grealish overflowed, De Bruyne invented and Bernardo Silva decided, although it was a choral and indisputable triumph. Nothing came of it in Madrid, neither Ancelotti’s plan nor his most reliable players. Benzema, Modric, Valverde, Vinicius… Not a trace of the team that seemed to always have a winning trick. Hard defeat that forces to review the plan, from the bench to his great star. Also to recognize the merits of a team that has reached the prelude to a final. Where only the best come.
It seems written that this will be the year of Manchester City. He has been conquering, inch by inch, a season full of pica. From the signing of Haaland, a historic victory in the offices, to the comeback in the Premier against Arsenal to lead to the confrontation with the European champion. Pep Guardiola had assumed that to win the Champions League he would have to dethrone the King. He achieved it fairly, being superior to the white team in the overall qualifying round, and stands in Istanbul as a favorite to inaugurate a new room in the Etihad museum, that of the Orejonas. City is an author’s team that plays extraordinary, diverse, rich football, capable of subduing anyone and adapting to what each game demands. Money well invested by the right people, the ones who know about football, leads to success, although the obstacle of Inter still remains. It seems little rival for the celestial machine.
There is little to reproach Real Madrid for, despite its manifest inferiority to City, where none of its virtues of the last glorious decade appeared. This time he gave up in the run-up to the final because that’s how it has to be. Because it is more normal not to win the Champions League than to win it. Because the rest improve every year to try to dethrone the best. Honor for the team of the Five Cups, the Nacho, Carvajal, Kroos, Modric or Benzema. Many of them will have one more chance to equal Paco Gento. Not for generosity, but for performance. The path of this Champions League has been remarkable, authoritatively separating Liverpool and Chelsea. City, on the other hand, did not concede anything to the whites in their stadium, learning from their latest defeats. The champion, a specialist in moving to the edge of the precipice, did not find a rope to hold on to. They were all withdrawn by Guardiola’s team.
A period of reflection opens because Madrid’s plan did not work. From the beginning. Ancelotti opted for his personal guard, leaving Rdiger in the reserve. Risky, after marking Haaland in the first leg. Militao returned to eleven. Those of Paris, with Rodrygo for Casemiro. The team that had not lost in the qualifying rounds for this edition of the Champions League. Until yesterday. The electric atmosphere of the City of Manchester, from the previous mosaic, fed the charge of the sky blues, even more devastating than the initial of Bernabu. Because in addition to keeping the ball and finishing off from afar, he looked for the small area game.
Courtois’ miracles are not enough
Grealish overflowed, over and over again, until he closed a cross that Haaland headed, point blank. Courtois’s first miracle. Rehearsed corner, return of Akanki to the weak side and Haaland’s header, again at point blank range. Second miracle of Thibaut. There was no third. On the right wing Stones appeared as a winger, delaying De Bruyne who read Bernardo’s unchecking and the Portuguese placed next to the post.
The 1-0, very just, took Madrid out of the cave. The evident superiority, tactical and numerical, in City’s midfield, again with Stones and Rodri freeing the rest, faded slightly with Rodrygo’s appearances between the lines. He leaked an interesting ball to Vinicius that Walker corrected, powerful.
Kroos also found air, which left the only optimistic action of the first act. A far right to the crossbar, dotted by Ederson. Prelude to the second local goal, in an arrival from the right of City that Madrid defended by accumulation and, of course, lost the second play. Sac Militao Gndogan’s shot and Bernardo heads alone from the penalty spot.
No reaction after the break
The break was a relief for a Madrid that remembered ancient times. To the one from La Quinta who succumbed at the San Siro against Sacchi’s Milan, for example, in a 5-0 defeat that marked an entire generation of Real Madrid fans. That’s how ugly the game looked, and even so Ancelotti made no changes. The scenery changed, with a little more ball for Madrid. At least, the same in the midfield, joining lines. He hit it to produce a free kick from Alaba, an exquisite strike opening the ankle that dropped the ball, but it did not surprise the brilliant Ederson.
The first change of Ancelotti changed the drawing. Rdiger for Modric. Camavnga in the middle. In his first action, he booted one against De Bruyne. City gave up the ball, without messing up even in counterattacks. Madrid cannot be granted even a meter because it is resurrected. City is exemplary in its understanding of the game. Kroos left shortly after for Asensio, but the occasion was from City. A heel from Gndogan left Haaland one on one, but Courtois denied him for the third time. Touch and to the crossbar. Benzema disappeared, Vinicius imprecise, Rodrygo disconnected… The third fell, with an own goal from Militao when he deflected a header from Akanji. There the fight ended and the relief was consumed. The best is City, capable of crushing the champion. The king is dead. Long live the king.