Manchester City could rightly be considered the favorite against Real Madrid in the 1/8 finals of the Champions League. Josep Guardiola's wards not only played at home, but also had a minimal advantage in the score. In addition, the team of Zinedine Zidane could not count on the disqualified Sergio Ramos, which automatically reduced the chances of the “creamy” for success. Instead, Eder Militao appeared at the base, having entered the field only 19 times this competitive year.
Also, Gareth Bale was not on the list of Real Madrid. The star striker continued to aggravate the conflict with the club and refused to enter the field in the return leg against Manchester City. This was announced by Zidane himself. At the same time, the mentor did not disclose the details and stated that he respects the ward. True, the absence of the Welshman cannot be called a complete loss. He played just 20 games this season and scored three goals and two assists. As a result, Rodrigo took his position.
Guardiola, on the other hand, could not count on the disqualified Benjamin Mendy and Sergio Aguero continuing to recover from a knee injury. Gabriel Jesus was called to replace him. But Fernandinho was among the starting 11. The Brazilian again took a place in the center of defense, where he paired with Emeric Laporte. A little unexpected is the appearance at the start of Ilkay Gundogan, who often missed games in the final part of the championship.
In the first minutes, the guests felt clearly uncomfortable. The owners pushed them to the goal and forced them to arrange risky transfers in their own penalty area. It could be assumed that in such a situation, mistakes should be expected from the less experienced Militao, however, the 2018 world champion in the French national team made a gross mistake. Already in the ninth minute, Rafael Varane presented the ball to Jesus, who addressed it to Sterling, and the Briton shot Courtois. For Rahim, this goal was 20th in the Champions League and 100th in all competitions for Manchester City. However, Real's mission has not changed. He still needed to score twice. True, now it only helped him to transfer the game into extra time.
As it turned out, the debut fiasco revived the Madrid team and made them act more actively in front. They picked up the pace and began to visit more and more often in the opponent's half of the field. The first dangerous moment at Ederson's goal arose in the 21st minute, when Benzema got the ball on the verge of an offside position, turned around and shot great, but the goalkeeper made a spectacular save. And already on the second attempt, the Frenchman restored parity. Rodrigo mockingly dealt with João Canselo and performed the serve, and Karim struck an irresistible headbutt. For him, this goal was the fifth in the last six meetings.
At the end of the half, City again took the initiative and organized a series of dangerous attacks, but neither Foden nor Sterling managed to upset Thibault Courtois. The Belgian did not lose his shape and continued to prove why he is considered one of the best goalkeepers in the world. In the first 45 minutes, he made three rescues and did not allow the "townspeople" to come forward again.
The second half began with mocking attempts by Kevin De Bruyne to twist the ball into the goal from a corner, and continued with a number of moments at the Courtois goal. The Belgian managed to disturb almost all the representatives of the hosts' attacking line, but he continued to help out. Dani Carvajal helped him in this, not only covering the right edge, but also managing to clean up behind the central defenders. For Real, all the danger came from Benzema, who had several chances to make a double.
The pressure of the “townspeople” grew and the second goal against Real Madrid was brewing. But in the end it was not the result of a sweeping attack by City, but another mistake by a defender in a harmless situation. Varane was the first on the ball after the hosts 'unaddressed ride, but instead of calmly taking him out of the field, he actually made a discount on Jesus' move. He was ahead of Courtois and brought the hosts ahead.
In the end, both coaches made a number of substitutions, and Zidane even risked playing two central strikers. But the release of the disgraced Luka Jovic could not change the balance of power on the field. “Citizens” continued to attack and could double the advantage, but David Silva missed the target from the free kick. In the last minutes, as always, the main attack construct in the person of De Bruyne was active, who, although he did not score points for performance, once again demonstrated his highest skill.
Manchester City beat Real Madrid 2-1 twice and with a third attempt to break the Champions League quarter-final barrier. In the previous two years, Guardiola's wards have consistently been inferior to the future finalists of the tournament in the person of Liverpool and Tottenham. This time their rivals will be the Lyon footballers, who have sensationally taken over Juventus.