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Champions League Match Report & Player Ratings | Real Madrid battle Premier League holders Manchester City to action-packed 1-1 draw

A pair of long-range efforts from Vinícius Júnior and Kevin De Bruyne cancelled each other out on either side of the half-time interval to set up a scintillating semi-final second leg at the Etihad next week

Pre-Match Social Media Commentary

A coming together of footballing powerhouses produced ninety minutes of football in the Spanish capital that hardly disappointed as Real Madrid and Manchester City battled to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their semi-final clash in Europe’s top club competition.

In the headline clash of the two semi-final fixtures, Pep Guardiola’s determination to win the one trophy with City he has failed to do since his arrival in England looms large over the legendary Spanish manager as he locked horns with one of the greatest managers in history in Carlo Ancelotti.

City hardly lacked motivation on the night away from home after being knocked out by Madrid at this same stage last season, but over the course of the night, the English hegemon were reminded just how difficult it is to stand up in the Champions League and come away winners.

Despite being in front of home support in the Spanish capital, Real Madrid was happy to sit back and defend in depth given Manchester City’s efficiency and effectiveness in a high-octane pressing system, with Carlo Ancelotti possibly worried about trying to match City for legs across ninety minutes.

Madrid, who are so often lethal on the counter via the flanks, nearly found the opening in the opening exchanges when Vinícius Júnior broke into space after good one-touch combination play with Karim Benzema, with the Brazilian star nearly finding the Frenchman in space on the edge of the area but his ball was just behind the frontline man.

City was dominant in possession and happy to be so, controlling 70% of the possession and already crafting five shots in the opening fifteen minutes while allowing Madrid space enough to complete just forty-four passes across a clash that currently was following the tactical script many would have probably expected.

Both sides came out swinging in the second stanza while coming close to adding another notch on the scoresheet on either side of the scoreline, but it would be Pep Guardiola’s troops that would pull level in the 67th minute after a low long-range drive from Kevin De Bruyne.

The Belgian star ripped a grass-cutting effort past his compatriot Thibaut Courtois after Rodri did exceptionally well to press and regain possession before finding Jack Grealish, who cut inside to spot Ilkay Gündogan only for the German to take a touch before laying off De Bruyna to find an equalizer they arguably deserved.

Ederson came up big in the 78th minute when Benzema popped up at the far post to head low from a tight angle back across goal in the wake of a Madrid free-kick only for the Brazilian to smartly turn the star striker’s effort away from danger. He did much of the same again when second-half substitute Aurélien Tchouaméni rifled an effort from outside the box that was destined for the top corner before the Brazilian parried away.

Try as both sides did, neither could give themselves an advantage heading into the second leg at the Etihad in what ended as an entertaining draw in Madrid, with many remaining of the opinion that the winner of the two-legged affair should be capable of going on to win the competition.

City certainly dominated play but tired legs could play a part moving forward after Guardiola failed to make a single change in the second half, while Ancelotti once again got his tactics spot on as evidenced by Madrid boasting a higher xG, more shots, and a higher amount of big chances created on the night.

In the end, expect a very similar affair to play out a week from now in the northwest of England.

Key Stats & Performers

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Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.

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