Real Madrid 1-1 Manchester City: De Bruyne Stunner Gives City Slim Advantage At The Bernabeu

Published on 10 May 2023 at 20:00

It will be all to play for at the Etihad Stadium, as Real Madrid and Manchester City played out a tense 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Semi-Final.


One year on from producing one of the greatest knockout ties in football history, few were expecting the two teams to reach the heights and spectacle of last season’s contest.


Instead, we were treated to a game of two halves: Pep Guardiola’s City dominated the opening 45 minutes, boasting over 70% of the total possession and some good chances throughout.


But it was a wonder strike from Vinicius Jr in the 36th minute (following a simply spectacular pitch-long run from Eduardo Camavinga) that opened the scoring and put the defending Champions in control out of seemingly nowhere. 


The Cityzens went into Tuesday night’s match as the favourites to both progress and even win the entire competition. But if last season’s successful campaign showed us all, Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid cannot be underestimated, regardless of who they’re playing against. 


The rest of the first half descended into a cagey, physical affair: Tough tackles between Dani Carvajal and Jack Grealish, and a booking for Toni Kroos for a nasty foul on Ilkay Gundogan emphasised the desperation and nerves both teams were showing not even a quarter of the way into the tie.


As half time came and went, Real Madrid slowly began to ease into the game, reversing the cycle of City dominance and making it their own. But besides some chances around the hour mark, Ederson was barely troubled for the rest of the game.


His Madrid counterpart Thibaut Courtois was eventually beaten though: City’s ever-formidable talisman Kevin De Bruyne found some space on the edge of the Real Madrid box, before curling a powerful shot into the bottom corner and out of his compatriot's reach.


With his Man Of The Match performance, De Bruyne has been heralded by Thierry Henry as one of the smartest players he’s ever seen: “I still think he’s the most important player in this team…his brain is the best I’ve ever seen, the way he sees the game.”


Not a bad compliment coming from someone who has played alongside Lionel Messi, Zinedine Zidane, Xavi and Dennis Bergkamp.


Where De Bruyne flourished, Erling Haaland floundered however. Comfortably contained by Antonio Rudiger and David Alaba from the very beginning of the match, expectations will be high for the Norwegian to repeat his heroics of the previous rounds against RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich if City want to see themselves through this clash. 


With a favourable final against one of AC Milan or Inter Milan awaiting the tie’s winner, next Wednesday’s game has all the hallmarks and expectations of being an instant footballing classic.


Can Real Madrid reach a record-extending 18th European cup final? Will Man City continue their rampant pursuit of the treble? It’s truly all to play for at the Etihad next Wednesday night in Manchester.


Who do you think will reach the UEFA Champions League Final? Let us know in the comments and over on Twitter today!


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Image Credits: Steffen Prößdorf (crop by ArsenalGhanaPartey) and Saolab Press

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