Football

Champions League Hope For Manchester City and Pep Guardiola

Champions League Hope For Manchester City and Pep Guardiola

The last 16-tie of the Champions League became a little bit sweeter for Manchester City when they were able to walk away with a 1-2 away win in Spain. For the first time in Champions League history, City made a late comeback to defeat Real Madrid.

The first encounter

After a shrewd first 45 minutes, Madrid was able to capitalise on a defensive mix-up from the visitors. Vinicius Junior bolted towards goal before providing Isco with the ideal layup to give his team the lead. City was lucky to avoid a second when Ramos struck the ball just over.

City had played the more proficient football all match and deserved to be on top of the game. And that’s exactly what they got when substitute Raheem Sterling was brought down inside the penalty area. Captain De Bruyne slotted the ball confidently as Manchester City took a 2-1 lead at the Bernabeu.

A huge turnaround of events for Madrid didn’t stop there, Ramos carelessly brought down Jesus and the defender was gifted a red card for his efforts. With five minutes remaining and a 1 goal deficit, Madrid’s game ended before the whistle had blown.

For the first time in Champions League history City had defeated the almighty Real Madrid which means the north English side are now commanding the fixture before the second leg in Manchester.

Maybe event’s would’ve been more promising given their side are facing a ban from European club competition for two years. City has appealed the decision but, the issue will remain and continue to loom over the future of the club.

The replay

City boss Pep Guardiola may be humble in victory but, if it weren’t for his tactical mastermind then City wouldn’t have had such an impressive outing in the first leg. A surprise in his team selection left fans and no doubt opposing manager Zinedine Zidane, baffled. Will the City boss leave Aguero, Silva, Sterling, and Fernandinho on the bench in the replay?

After the game with Real Madrid, the odds for Manchester City are at -169; the betting market also agrees that City holds a significant advantage over their opponents.

There’s no denying Madrid’s form has been patchy in recent months, despite taking the second-half lead against City they were never in a position to celebrate during the 90 minutes. It was a struggle for Madrid at home, now they’re travelling to England up against two away goals and a stadium filled with enthusiastic City fans. After the first leg performance, it’s becoming impossible to place any faith into Real Madrid for the second leg tie.

• Manchester City defeated Real Madrid for the first time in Champions League history.
• Real Madrid has lost a Champions League home match despite scoring the opening goal for just the second time, also losing in this manner against AC Milan in October 2009.
Kevin de Bruyne scored his 50th goal for Manchester City. This was also the first time he has both scored and assisted in a Champions League match.
• Pep Guardiola is the second manager to win two Champions League away games against Real Madrid, after Ottmar Hitzfeld. He is the first to do it with two different clubs.
• Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos received his fourth Champions League red card – only Edgar Davids and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have received as many (both four).
• Pep Guardiola has won more Champions League knockout-stage matches than any other manager in the history of the competition (28).
• Benzema became the 6th player to make 100 appearances for Real Madrid in the Champions League, after Iker Casillas (150), Raul (130), Sergio Ramos (124), Roberto Carlos (107) and Cristiano Ronaldo (101).

Some interesting statistics above and although the second leg does favour the north English side, we can’t overlook their current club worries and must respect Madrid until the final whistle is blown.

If Manchester City were to go through to the final 8, it could be their only hope of lifting European silverware if the two-year ban they’re facing doesn’t get appealed. I’m confident we’ll see an even better display from Pep and his squad second time around.

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