Pre-Match Social Media Commentary
Manchester City’s dominant presence in European football is officially one step away from the club’s first-ever Champions League trophy after the reigning Premier League champions ran out as dominant winners in a 4-0 drubbing of Spanish giants Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium.
In what was a match that finished in stark contrast to the first leg in the Spanish capital, City was dominant from start to finish while keeping Carlo Ancelotti’s troops at arm’s length for the duration of proceedings in the northwest of England as Real barely found their way into the final third all night.
City started brightest on the night in the opening ten minutes as Real Madrid had emerged from their corner of the ring only to be pinned against the ropes under immense pressure from Guardiola’s outfit, with six RM players yet to complete a single pass at that period of the match while Ancelotti’s men had yet to complete any in City’s half of the pitch.
The Premier League side so nearly scored in the 12th minute when Jack Grealish stood a cross up for Erling Haaland for the Norwegian to head toward goal, but Belgian international Thibaut Courtois did well to turn it away from point-blank range before Eduardo Camavinga hastily cleared Madrid’s lines.
Courtois came up brilliantly a second tie to deny Haaland once again in the 21st minute after the mechanical goalscorer outjumped Camavina at the far post to head across the face of goal before the big Belgian shot-stopper contorted his shape enough to make a finger-tip save.
City’s onslaught was not to be denied, however, with the English champions taking the lead on the night one minute later when Kevin De Bruyne played Bernardo Silva through on goal from just outside the area after interchanging play presented the Portuguese international with space behind for him to hammer past Courtois at the near post.
Madrid finally fired a warning shot across City’s bow in the 35th minute when Toni Kroos rifled a long-range effort that seemed to have Ederson beaten only to be denied by the bar before replays showed that the Brazilian got enough to deflect the German’s effort on to the woodwork.
Guardiola’s men took that warning in stride to make it 2-0 on the night when Silva bagged his brace with a looping header after İlkay Gündoğan’s low drive in the wake of his run into the area was kick-saved by Courtois but could only find its way to the diminutive midfielder who was free and clear to head home.
Changes were made by Madrid after the half-time interval and it did appear that the Spanish side was on track to work themselves back into contention, but with fifteen minutes left at the Etihad Stadium, City struck for a third time through a Manuel Akanji header after a De Bruyne inswinging free-kick found the Swiss international in the box. It would be the final nail in Madrid’s coffin, with City booking their ticket to the final against Inter Milan in Istanbul.
But City was not done on the night and was motivated to put in a real statement performance in front of home support when second-half substitute Julián Álvarez slotted home in stoppage time to make it 4-0 on the night thanks to fellow substitute Phil Foden.
In the end, perhaps there is a conversation to be had from two different perspectives at full-time; both about how good Manchester City have become under Pep Guardiola in the manner in which they so calmly dispatched the preeminent power on the continent, but also, how City have shifted the very landscape of the sport when it comes to how they have gotten to where they are today.
But nothing can take away from how these players performed across the duration of the season, and how Guardiola will now have another chance to add the one trophy he is missing across what has been a memorable stint in the blue half of Manchester.
Questions will also be asked regarding where Real Madrid goes from here when it comes to the aging senior figures in the team that have ultimately fallen short on both the domestic and European fronts and much the same can be said regarding the questions surrounding Ancelotti’s future at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Still, it could well be City’s time now as the Premier League hegemon is now just 90 minutes away from their first-ever Champions League trophy that could well propel the club to new heights that no one would have ever dreamed of.