Real Madrid’s ‘lucky’ night exposed the truth about Manchester City

Although Pep Guardiola’s team still has a chance to win both titles, they are not the same all-powerful team they were when they were eliminated from the Champions League on penalties a year ago.

The man, who is occasionally referred to as football’s greatest manager, thought that outcome might allow Carlo Ancelotti to win a fifth Champions League, even though he will only have three personal. Pep Guardiola stated, “We would have won with those statistics in other sports.”Real Madrid had eight shots compared to Manchester City’s 32.Real outscored City on penalties by four to three. The most successful coach in Barcelona cited his mentor. “I agree with Johan Cruyff when he says there is no such thing as luck.”

But in one instance, bad luck was not on City’s side: after 210 minutes of intense play, they were eliminated on penalties. They could think back to Real Madrid’s two deflected goals at the Bernabeu, Kevin De Bruyne’s illness that forced him to withdraw late from the Spanish capital, and the moment that ended with Erling Haaland’s header in Manchester, just as the Belgian was about to cap off a masterful display with a winner. Bernardo Silva made the poor choice to attempt to chip Andriy Lunin from a distance of twelve yards; Guardiola was understanding and said, “It happens.” This might have been another season of continental dominance, but those were slim margins. In fact, not the most vocal of football players, Ruben Dias, claimed that City “dominated the whole game” against Real.

Most people can’t typically say that. However, it wasn’t dominance like it was during the team’s 4-0 loss at the Etihad Stadium in the previous season under Carlo Ancelotti. And even if it’s unfair to compare any game to Bayern Munich’s quarterfinal defeat in 2023 or hold every game to that standard, those were the standards set by City. When pitted against the best this season, they haven’t had a performance like that. They won’t now either.

Manchester City are not the force they were 12 months ago

A campaign full of surprises could end in a double, sending City out of Europe with only a shootout loss. In the Champions League this year, they prevailed in eighty percent of their games. On the other hand, there is an opposing viewpoint that claims they failed to win any of their seven games against the top three teams they have faced this season—Real, Liverpool, and Arsenal—across all competitions. The harsh assessment is that they barely passed the first big test and had a soft landing in the Champions League this season.

European kings can reclaim their thrones after Man City’s double treble denial
Guardiola calls Man City’s performance against Real Madrid “exceptional” despite their Champions League exit.
It was partly because City gave in to counterattacks in both legs, appearing weak during transitions. Guardiola said, “They defended so deep with incredible solidarity,” so they could force Real into a last-minute move at the Etihad, but their lack of creativity felt telling. At the Bernabeu, City scored three goals in a spectacular fashion, but when Guardiola’s formula works, it doesn’t depend on miracle goals. With the exception of the 3–3 draw in Madrid, they have not been as effective and devastating with their passing in the larger games. Haaland’s goal total in four games since his return to the City uniform against Real is currently zero. This season, no player from City has more than one goal against Real, Liverpool, or Arsenal. The joint top scorers are Cole Palmer, a man who has since scored 20 goals for Chelsea, and two defenders, John Stones and Josko Gvardiol.

which serves as one more example of the harm caused last summer. The shadow of the late Ilkay Gundogan over his former club grows, and Riyad Mahrez becomes more and more indispensable as the sale of Palmer, his internal replacement, appears to have been a grave mistake. To be fair, Jeremy Doku was a fantastic substitute against Real, offering a wildcard, darting at defenders, and setting up De Bruyne’s goal. However, it appeared that City had too little else to offer: Julian Alvarez is a willing runner who lacks a little class despite all of his medals. Guardiola switched around his 11 starters at halftime in each leg, demonstrating his inventiveness but also his lack of options.

Mateo Kovacic, one of his rookies, came off the bench and missed a penalty. Matheus Nunes stuck with it. Even with Josko Gvardiol’s increasing skill, it might turn out that last summer was a bit of a wasted opportunity. The city is not as strong as it was. All season long, there have been signs that those who consider their dominance to be permanent and unavoidable—veiled by lengthy winning streaks—have been ignoring them. They are weaker in depth and have fewer game-winning players. If Real Madrid was lacking in elite attacking reinforcements as well, they will be arriving in the summer with the arrival of Endrick and the near certain arrival of Kylian Mbappe. They will undoubtedly be considered the gold standard once more.

No other team has achieved as much success in Europe as Real Madrid has.
If the title race had gone their way decisively, City might have eliminated them in a week. City left their mark on history even after being eliminated. Deem this a draw and they are unbeaten in 28 games; they equalled a century-old club record of 42 without losing at home.

Still, it didn’t feel like the most comforting data. The more pertinent number came amid a sense of normality: Guardiola has now had eight Champions League campaigns with City and won one. This was a fourth quarter-final exit. Penalties, like away goals, like contentious decisions and late comebacks, added to a familiar sense of anguish. Only in this sport, perhaps. “That’s the way football happens,” said a philosophical Guardiola. Football has been kind to him at times, and cruel at others.


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.