Before last night’s semifinal match between Manchester City and Real Madrid even started, the absence of Real Madrid’s Christiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema gave City the upper hand. City had a chance to more easily contain their opponents’ attack and get forward more freely themselves, hopefully grabbing a major lead against Spain. Yet that never happened. Instead of aggressively playing, Manchester City played an uninspired midfield press and a conservative deployment of their defense. Instead of trying to take advantage of an off-balance Madrid side, City’s attack played an opportunistic, counter-attacking game more focused on not getting buried under their opponents’ quality, a tremendous waste of opportunity.
Madrid reacted poorly to the blows to their attack and played a conservative, mostly unimpressive game. They played a much more constrained style unlike their typical aggressive selves, perfectly happy to take a draw and let the tie be decided in their home stadium. The problem for City fans was that Madrid’s defense wasn’t even that impressive yesterday, with City causing a major threat every time they got forward. It didn’t help that half attacker David Silva left injured in the first half, allowing Madrid’s midfield to key on Kevin De Bruyne and effectively starve Sergio Agüero of quality service.
It’s possible that Manchester City can make something of the tie in the second leg and steal an early away goal to put the pressure on. However, it’s difficult to look at how the first leg played out and not feel that City had wasted a major opportunity. Real Madrid weren’t at their best, yet City wasn’t able to take advantage of that. It wasn’t an opportunity that City can rely on in the second leg, meaning that they need to up their game if they hope to emerge victorious against Madrid.
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