Vinicius and Bernardo Silva in action during Madrid – City (REUTERS / Isabel Infantes)
When two coaches of the stature of Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola coincide, they cannot be wrong. His experience is a degree and he told them that a Champions League semifinal as glossy as the ones starring Real Madrid and Manchester City smelled of gunpowder beforehand. And there were explosions, in the form of shots from outside the area, first by Vinicius and then by De Bruyne, so that the prediction made by both sides would be fulfilled: everything will be decided on English soil. This is what is demanded by such a huge tie, and with overtones of an early end, like this one (1-1).
When City was at its best, Madrid hit. When the situation seemed more controlled for the whites, the English responded. Zero combat, but not at all lacking in showiness, since it had it all. On the one hand, the purists received a good dose of ballooning. On the other, the most devoted to direct play also had a grateful portion of chances, cons and effectiveness. Coffee for everyone in a monotonous duel first and hectic inevitably later: there was no middle ground.
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You never know if what you say could turn against you, but Guardiola made the statement despite everything: “Every time he catches the ball, Vinicius sinks you.” Hours after this sentence was announced, the Brazilian picked up the Catalan coach’s glove. And, as he had inadvertently predicted, he sank him. Although only partially. So much had been said about a first time at the Santiago Bernabéu that the Real Madrid player appropriated the stubbornness with his debut in his own way: his kick, something atypical for a Jr. increasingly Senior and killer from the vicinity of the goal, served Madrid to strike first at 36. The new Manchester City then had to show that it was indeed innovative also in practice and not only in theory.
Guardiola’s lesson was more than well learned by his pupils. They insisted on demonstrating it during almost the entire first half, which at times seemed like a citizen monologue. There it was, once again, possession, an everlasting travel companion in Pep’s script, and the constant whistles from the Bernabéu every time City played could not silence it. Neither was a Madrid that did not have enough skin to find itself. He was already recreating his own in his City football, with lukewarm approaches but not without suspense to Courtois’s goal.
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There was no other option but to endure the visitor’s downpour, no matter how long it lasted. At least, the monster Haaland was missing and contained: it was barely possible to hear from him in his much-vaunted debut in Madrid. De Bruyne in minute 8 and Rodri in minute 14, with distant attempts, were City’s best goal tricks from the start. It was not until more or less after fifteen minutes when Madrid seemed to wake up. As soon as he was able to push the ball out more and have some ownership of it, it began to rain less.
It did not matter that the corners in favor of City followed one another. Also that the ball slept, at times, overwhelmingly. Lethargy sent Benzema to the fore, with a stroke of the pen, at minute 25: only a providential cut by Rúben Dias prevented the Frenchman’s goal, from a remote-controlled pass from Vinicius. It would not take long for his moment to arrive, shortly after a more important stoppage occurred than one might think. The work of a capital player for Madrid this Tuesday: Antonio Rüdiger.
The German’s foul on his compatriot Gundogan left the game on hold for a few minutes on the edge of half an hour. Hydration settled Madrid, at least, like Asterix’s magic potion. City’s errors accumulated due to the increasingly better and greater local pressure and Camavinga on one side and Valverde on the other began to show their fangs. It was precisely Camavinga and Modric (Ancelotti, an old dog, knew he was going to be essential in the midfield) who began to make Vinicius 1-0 in the form of a missile. As things were about debuts, Madrid decided to inaugurate the electronic system with their first shot on goal.
The 1-0 of Madrid against Manchester City (REUTERS / Isabel Infantes)
The first part died with a City overwhelmed by the resurgence of Madrid. In addition to the offensive, he maintained the good tone defensively and even managed to unhing Grealish at the hands of Carvajal. Guardiola’s men had to react before it was the whites who, even with less ball, took control of the match.
If there was a downpour for City in the first half, the same can be said for Madrid during the initial 20 minutes of the second. Ancelotti’s men returned much more convinced from the changing rooms, in search of a higher income and without their football looking so resentful. Benzema tried it without success, as did Vinicius and Rodrygo again. With more ball, the host played better, but the success was scarce.
Meanwhile, City’s great threat in this first leg began to show more: Kevin De Bruyne. He had already warned in the first half, but the second was his consecration. Two of his shots, one offside to the limit, already put Courtois on notice. Surely he would also suffer when Alaba blocked a very dangerous shot from Haaland. But even more so when, finally, City’s goal came.
Kevin De Bruyne celebrates City’s 1-1 win against Real Madrid (REUTERS/Juan Medina)
At a time when 2-0 seemed much closer than 1-1, the latter happened. Neither Camavinga nor Rodrygo hit the ball in a critical zone, and we already know that about the small details: the opportunity to return Vinicius’s blow with a carbon copy included could not be ignored. Thus, De Bruyne also scored in the purest Espronceda style: with a cannon shot from a distance.
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It was minute 67. From then on, City regained their air somewhat, but it was Madrid who were in the best position to break the tie. Benzema continued to insist without a prize, with a true save from Ederson after a header of his in minute 79. The citizen goalkeeper also brought Tchouaméni down the street of bitterness, already in minute 90. But the aim, apart from the great goals, He resisted. More to the merengue team, who could no longer transfer their positive feelings to the result. The tables did not disappear and the club was taken by those who, in the end, understand the most about this: the technicians.
Vinícius destroys Osasuna and Real Madrid is proclaimed Copa championRoban at Rodrygo’s house while playing the Cup final