Real Madrid missed the clinical finishing of star man Cristiano Ronaldo as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Manchester City in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final on Tuesday.
The Portuguese forward failed a late fitness test ahead of the match and was not deemed fit enough to even make the bench. Unlike his counterpart Zinedine Zidane, Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini is unlikely to be dwelling on what could have been, despite the unfortunate injury to playmaker David Silva.
Instead, he will be eagerly looking ahead to the second leg of the tie as he tries to take Manchester City into the final of the competition for the first time in their history.
Joe Hart (8.5/10): Making three saves and one claim, Hart was an absolute wall in front of the Manchester City goal on Tuesday night. He played a key role in not letting Real Madrid score the away goals and has given City a good chance to qualify for the final.
Gael Clichy (6/10): Anyone watching the first half would have questioned Clichy’s inclusion in the starting XI, as he let Bale whizz past him on multiple occasions. However, the Frenchman grew into the game in the second half, improving his overall game.
Bacary Sagna (6/10): Real Madrid have fast and tricky wingers and it is no surprise that the City fullbacks struggled against them. Sagna was constantly troubled on the right side and gave away unnecessary free kicks.
Nicolas Otamendi (7.5/10): While Clichy was being troubled by Bale, Otamendi was a pillar of strength, helping his fullback out on multiple occasions. The Argentine defender also made five tackles and six interceptions in the game in order to keep the Real Madrid attackers at bay.
Vincent Kompany (7/10): Put in a calm and composed shift for Manchester City after coming back from his muscle injury and was a rock in the middle of the defence, thwarting one attack after another.
Fernandinho (6.5/10): He was dispossessed a couple of times, but put in a real shift in the middle of the park against Real Madrid.
Fernando (7/10): Did the real dirty work for Manchester City in the midfield. He even slotted into defence when either Kompany or Otamendi charged upfield.
Kevin De Bruyne (7/10): Started off in the No.10 role, but had to move out to the wing after David Silva’s injury. However, he was a constant threat to the Real defenders and forced Keylor Navas to make a smart save on one occasion.
David Silva (6.5/10): Had a rather disappointing night as he had to be taken off with a hamstring injury in the first half. However, he had a decent time out on the pitch, with a 91% pass success rate.
Jesus Navas (6/10): Navas kept troubling Marcelo with his pace down the right flank, but his crossing was not up to the mark and the Real Madrid centre-backs found it quite easy to deal with the Spaniard’s deliveries into the penalty area.
Sergio Aguero (6/10): Aguero’s performance was below his usual high standards in this match. In fact, he failed to get a shot on target in the entire match.
Keylor Navas (6.5/10): Was untroubled for most of the match, but had to be alert to Manchester City’s occasional threat.
Marcelo (6.5/10): Had a decent game and was largely untroubled by Navas on his flank. Kept his opposing winger in check for the entire match, but did not offer much while going forward.
Dani Carvajal (6.5/10): Had a bad first half when he was dispossessed a few times, but recovered well after the half-time break and slowly grew into the game.
Sergio Ramos (7/10): The Spain defender was strong in the air, winning two aerial duels to peg back the Manchester City attackers.
Pepe (7.5/10): Pepe was impeccable throughout the match, forming a formidable partnership with Ramos to keep a clean sheet. He even had a chance to score at the end, but failed to capitalise on it.
Casemiro (7/10): Played a huge role in giving Real Madrid control in the midfield area. He managed to win an incredible seven aerial balls in the 90 minutes.
Toni Kroos (7/10): Had en excellent time in the middle of the park, bossing the midfield with the help of Modric. Kroos played a total of 75 successful passes out of 76 attempted ones, with a pass success rate of 99%.
Luka Modric (8/10): Kroos might have been the midfield general, but Modric acted as the pivot in the middle of the park, playing 80 successful passes in the game. He was essentially the main creative force for Los Blancos.
Lucas Vazquez (6/10): Vazquez was brought in due to the absence of Ronaldo, who failed a late fitness test, but the Spaniard did not quite live up to the expectations.
Karim Benzema (5.5/10): Failed to have much of an impact on the game. Was largely kept quiet by the City defenders and failed to get any shot on target during his 45 minutes on the pitch.
Gareth Bale (6.5/10): Was the focal point of the attack in the absence of Ronaldo, but was largely unsuccessful in troubling Kompany & co. He pulled the trigger five times, but none of his shots were on target.
Balanced on a knife-edge
One could say that it is advantage Manchester City after the first leg, as the Blues have not conceded any goals. However, it would be foolish to say that Real Madrid will not have a real go at the Manchester City defence at the Santiago Bernabeu. Their quarter-final second-leg tie against Wolfsburg, when they turned around a 2-0 deficit to win the tie 3-2 on aggregate, was evidence enough that Zidane’s men remain one of the most formidable sides in Europe.
Buoyed by the support of their crowd, Real Madrid could well come out on top in the second leg against their former manager. However, Manchester City are a difficult team to break down and with some of his key players struggling to get back to fitness, Zinedine Zidane could find the home leg a bit more difficult that be would have previously anticipated.
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