Manchester City: Will the play at the Etihad Stadium be followed by the shipwreck at the Estadio Bernabéu?

Conditions on the biggest day in Manchester City’s European history could not have been gloomier. Heavy rain and 7,968 spectators at the Prater Stadium in Vienna saw the Skyblues ‘2-1 victory in the final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup on April 29, 1970 against Gornik Zabrze.

52 years later, the club is still waiting for the second title at European level, it should finally work – in the Champions League. The selection of team manager Pep Guardiola won the first match against Real Madrid 4: 3, “only” 4: 3 it must be said. The leaders of the Premier League delivered an offensive gala against the Spanish record champions and could have made the result much clearer.

“We started very well and could have done it already,” said City star Phil Foden. “We need to make better use of our opportunities.” Because it did not work at the Etihad Stadium, the first-class dream could burst again – as it has for ten years in a row.

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The billions invested by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the club’s main shareholder since 2009, were primarily earned to capture the Champions League crown. Against Madrid, the Guardiola selection is clearly favored after the performances this season.

Actually. For Real, together with Liverpool FC is probably the only team that has the necessary tools to bring Manchester City to its knees.

Eurosport.de mentions the three main reasons:

1.) Cibeles Youth Fountain

“Madridismo experienced a magical moment again,” Real Madrid wrote on its website. Only this weekend, the royals completed their 35th championship with a 4-0 victory over Espanyol Barcelona – and with a better B-Elf. Captain Marcelo then naturally spoke of the “best club in the world”. The 4-0 home debacle in March Clásico is finally over, arch-rivals FC Barcelona are a full 15 points behind in the table. The title was traditionally celebrated at the Cibeles Fountain in central Madrid.

Party in Madrid: Real celebrates 35th championship

“It’s a lot of emotion for me,” excited right winger Rodrygo after the celebration at Cibeles. An experience that should release additional strength for the showdown against Manchester City (Wednesday from 21:00 in the live ticker on Eurosport.de). Coach Carlo Ancelotti’s team could not have gained more confidence – Cibeles as a kind of youth source for the royal team.

Meanwhile, Manchester City must manage the balance by keeping the tension high in both the league and the Europa Cup. City easily beat Newcastle United 4-0 away last weekend, but Liverpool are just one point behind the leaders.

2.) Benzema factors

The hymns that have been sung for the attacker for weeks have not stopped. Deservedly. Karim Benzema is the offensive life insurance for Real. The Frenchman has scored in eight of his ten Champions League matches this season, 14 times in total. Benzema has scored nine goals in the last four knockout matches. It was “hard to find words for what he does – week after week,” said teammate David Alaba. “Especially this season, it’s incredible and we’re really, really happy that he’s with us.”

Karim Benzema

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The first leg showed how heavy the Benzema factor is. City were dismantling Real in all its individual parts. It was 2-0 after just eleven minutes, and the hosts pressed for the third goal – until Benzema used an icy post and in the 33rd minute volleyed to 2-1. When City threatened to rush away again in the second half with a 4-2 lead, the 34-year-old accidentally slammed a Panenka-style net penalty.

For the second half, the goalkeeper announced that he would deliver “something magical” with the team. It can not be ruled out that the attacker will then take full risk again. “I have great confidence in myself,” Benzema explained. This means that genius strokes like the Panenka penalty are crowned with success.

3.) Manchester’s hidden weakness

Does Manchester City have a real weakness? Rather not. The English champions are so dominant that it is hard to criticize. Unlike Liverpool (Mohamed Salah), Tottenham (Heung-Min Son) or Manchester United (Cristiano Ronalo), City certainly do not have the one top scorer who can be read from the Premier League’s top scorer list.
Still, the league leaders have the second-best attack in the league with 84 goals, only that the amount of goals is spread over several shoulders, especially Kevin De Bruynes and Riyad Mahrez – or recently Gabriel Jesus. Mahrez, City’s top scorer, is currently “only” in sixth place in the rankings, but Manchester’s variation in attack can certainly be interpreted as a strength.

Manchester City – Real Madrid: Benzema in a duel with Sinchenko

Photo Credit: Getty Images

So much the more surprising was the statement from coach Guardiola, who shortly before Christmas revealed what was perhaps his players’ only weakness. “We are not good defenders individually,” the Spaniard explained. In fact, it is noteworthy that City did not look good on the defensive in individual matches. Especially not when the opponent was also looking for ball possession or managed to create counterattacks. Guardiola tackles the problem with a ball-oriented style of play.

“The ball is the only reason you are stable. When midfielders get ball possession, you are stable behind them and have good chances going forward in the match,” the 51-year-old said. With this, Manchester successfully caches the secret weakness of the defense. Only: Real Madrid also masters this system with its excellent midfield cast. The greater the ball possession as a percentage of the home team of the Bernabéu, the more dangerous it becomes for the city defense.

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