Manchester City vs Real Madrid Classic Clash: May 18, 2023

The Hard Tackle looks back at a classic clash featuring Manchester City and Real Madrid ahead of their Champions League quarter-final second leg.

Manchester City going up against Real Madrid has become one of the biggest rivalries in Europe in the recent past. The two teams have met year after year in the knockout rounds and it has produced some exceptional results.

The first leg of this quarter-final tie was played at the new Santiago Bernabeu with a closed roof. The atmosphere inside the stadium was tremendous, and the match did live up to the hype. City took the lead in the 2nd minute thanks to a Bernardo Silva free-kick which caught Andriy Lunin by surprise. But within the next 15 minutes, Real Madrid levelled things up and managed to make it 2-1.

Eduardo Camavinga’s strike took a major deflection from Rúben Dias to level things up before Rodrygo gave Madrid the lead. Wonder strikes by Phil Foden and Josko Gvardiol saw the tables turn once again as City were back in the lead. In the end, Federico Valverde scored an absolute screamer to level things up. Both teams created quite a few chances and it ended 3-3 with nothing to separate them.

While it is all square heading into the second leg at the Etihad Stadium, Real Madrid will not be too pleased having played out a draw on their home turf. They remember what happened when they last visited Etihad Stadium for the second leg of the Champions League semi-final.

Laying the setting

Manchester City have a better head-to-head record against Real Madrid. The English club have won four out of the 11 encounters between the two teams, while Los Blancos have won three times. In the last five meetings between the two teams, the Merengues have only defeated City once which are not good signs for them heading into the second fixture.

The two teams have faced each other in the knockout round of the Champions League on four occasions, and both teams have progressed to the next round on two occasions. History suggests there is not much between the two teams, and it promises to be a closely fought 2nd leg encounter between the two teams.

But, Manchester City will consider themselves favourites because of what they did to the team in white last season when the two squared up at the Eithad. Before we focus on the upcoming 2nd leg between the two teams, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at what happened on May 18, 2023.

What happened on May 18, 2023?

Manchester City and Real Madrid squared up against each other in the semi-finals of the 2021/22 Champions League season. City won 4-3 at home and were all set to go through to the final 5-3 on aggregate when Santiago Bernabeu witnessed a comeback like no other.

Rodrygo scored twice at the death to level things up and send the match to extra time. Los Blancos won the match 6-5 on aggregate and despite being in touching distance of the final, Pep Guardiola’s men were once again left with disappointment.

After suffering this defeat, Manchester City once again met Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals of the 2022/23 season. The first leg was played at the Santiago Bernabeu and it ended 1-1. The second leg was played at the Etihad on May 18, 2023, and it is a date no Mancherster City fan will ever forget.

Given how they had suffered at the hands of the team in white in the previous season, Manchester City avenged that defeat in some fashion. On that night, City did not just win but smashed the record winners of the competition and made a statement to the world of football that they are the new ‘Kings of Europe’.

Guardiola’s iconic 3-2-4-1 formation was brought to use for the second leg. Manchester City dominated the ball, created more chances and hardly gave Real Madrid anything to build on. Bernardo Silva scored twice in the first half and the home team now had a comfortable 3-1 lead.

But, they did not stop there as Manuel Akanji added the third on the night before Julian Alvarez added another one to make it 4-0 on the night and 5-1 on aggregate. Real Madrid could only manage two attempts on target throughout the 90 minutes.

The Aftermath

This dominant display gave Manchester City the belief that they could get the job done and lift their first-ever Champions League. It was the final hurdle for Pep Guardiola’s team in a season where they had dominated in all competitions.

This win was followed up by a 1-0 win over Inter Milan in the Champions League final. The win didn’t just help them win their maiden UEFA Champions League title it also helped them complete the treble (Premier League, FA Cup and UCL). Guardiola’s team became the second English club to do so.

In years to come, that 4-0 win might be seen as the most important win in their history as it has established City as one of the biggest powerhouses in Europe and since then they have been flying high. They are pushing for back-to-back trebles and once again it is Los Blancos that stand in their way. But, this time it is a quarter-final clash.

As far as Real Madrid are concerned, they have bounced back from that defeat in some fashion and have put up a dominant display throughout the season. Jude Bellingham’s arrival has made a major difference. But, the first leg of the quarter-final did make it clear that it won’t be easy for the team in white to go past them.

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