Champions League semifinal first leg tie between Manchester City and Real Madrid turned out to be a tactical and a cagey affair at The Etihad. Both teams seemed happy with the 0-0 draw and have all to play for at Santiago Bernabeu in 7 days’ time from now.
The game lacked in quality with set piece being the only scoring opportunity for both the teams. Joe Hart pulled off 2 remarkable saves from Casemiro and Pepe to deny Real Madrid the vital away goal.
City could not make their first half pressure count as they now will have to score at Bernabeu to have any chance of reaching this season’s Champions League final. As for Madrid, they will be eager to welcome Cristiano Ronaldo to the starting XI after he missed tonight’s game due to a hamstring injury.
Following the 0-0 draw between Manchester City and Real Madrid, we take a look at the key talking points and things learned from the game at Etihad.
Fernandinho-Fernando partnership getting stronger
The Brazilian duo have been City’s unsung hero this season. They were outstanding against Real Madrid last night winning every lose ball and were precise with their tackles. So much so, they forced Madrid in to playing back passes and play in their own half for first 30 minutes.
Madrid suffered from Cristiano’s absence
When a player as important as Cristiano Ronaldo is absent from the starting XI, any team would fail to be at their attacking best. Real Madrid looked short of ideas going forward as they had no outlet to fall back on when they had the ball. There was no one like Ronaldo who could take players on, dribble and create chances for the forward players.
Joe Hart – Manchester City’s savior
Manuel Pellegrini must thank Hart for those two wonderful saves late in the game. Had any of those chances gone in, Real would have been the favorites to qualify for the final. Hart has been City’s main player in Champions League for couple of seasons now.
His performance against Barcelona last season and now against Madrid has shown why he is England’s number one and a big game player for The Citizens.
Bale failed to lead Real Madrid’s attack
In Ronaldo’s absence, Gareth Bale was expected to be the main man for Zinedine Zidane’s side, however, world’s most expensive player failed to deliver. His runs were easily marked by Gael Clichy and he was largely ineffective when his team needed him the most.
De Bruyne-Aguero could not link-up
Manchester City have relied on Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero in recent weeks but their link-up play was undone by a solid Real Madrid defense. Sergio Ramos shielded Aguero all night long and for a brief spell, Aguero went wide to allow David Silva come central and look to infleunce things.
What’s next for Benzema and James?
Karim Benzema was taken off at half time while James Rodriguez was not even used by Zinedine Zidane last night. Both players have had little impact in recent weeks for their team and it has put their place at Bernabeu in real danger.
Zidane is expected to do a squad overhaul next season with Benzema, Isco and James all expected to depart with players like Roberto Lewandowski and Eden Hazard linked with a move to the Spanish capital.
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