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Manchester City and Real Madrid, the two goliaths of current European soccer faced off, toe-toe at the Etihad in what became one of the greatest soccer games ever played.
For starters, the atmosphere at the Etihad, which is often criticized and made fun of by opposing fans, was top class. The place was rocking. And Pep Guardiola made sure his side rewarded them, and they did so early.
It only took ten minutes for City to knock in two goals thanks to Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus. City was dominant and made Madrid, one of the top sides in the world look like an amateur side.
However, there is no quit in Carlo Ancelotti's Madrid side. They have been on the brink of elimination before but they simply refuse to lose.
Led by Karim Benzema, Madrid, who were slow and often trying to play out of the back and being forced into their defensive zone thanks to the high press of Pep’s Man City side, were rejuvenated thanks to a goal from Benzema, who is perhaps the best player in the world at the moment.
Then, right after halftime, the game continued to pick up the momentum. With end-to-end action from both sides, goals were so close to happening.
And then one finally went in.
Phil Foden, the homegrown starlet for Man City scored a vital goal for the home side to put them up 3-1 53 minutes into the game. But the lead didn’t last for long as Madrid got the ball right back and Vini Jr had a fantastic dummy on Fernandinho that saw the ball go right through his legs and Vini Jr proceeded to carry the ball from midfield to the 18 where he slotted it past Ederson to put Madrid back in the game and make it 3-2.
Madrid was working hard to tie the game up, but unfortunately for the Spanish side, the left foot of Bernardo Silva put Man City 4-2 up with only 15 minutes left to play and it seemed unlikely that Madrid could get another one back this late in the game.
However, with 8 minutes left, Benzema found his way to the penalty spot, and with ice in his veins, after missing 3 out of his last 4 penalties, pannakea'd it into the back of the net, and Madrid, who were outplayed, outclassed, but certainly not outhustled, escaped with a 4-3 loss at the hands of Man City.
Despite the loss, Madrid gave themselves enough breathing room for the second leg which will be played in Spain.
Madrid also knows what they need to address, and address quickly, their defensive woes. The offense was amazing, 3 goals against Man City is no small feat (despite City having many injuries across their backline at the moment).
It will be necessary for Ancelotti’s side to fix their mistakes across the backline if they want any shot at going to the finals. Meanwhile, for Man City, if they keep playing the way they do and can sort out some of the injury issues they have, it’s hard to imagine them losing.
This will be a tough one to predict, and I’m going to say this will go to PKs after a 6-6 aggregate scoreline. I have Madrid advancing on penalties thanks to a winner from Luka Modric. These two teams will create for one of the greatest champion league semifinals fixtures of all time, the high intensity, high press, attacking style these teams play with are so beautiful to watch and I suggest anybody, a soccer fan or not, to watch the second leg which will take place Wednesday, May 4, at 3 PM EST.
A writer who loves to learn and share.
All Editorials written by Chris Dailey