Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Real Madrid underwhelming against Manchester City

David Nugent in Editorial, UEFA Champions League 27 Feb 2020

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On Wednesday night, Real Madrid suffered a 2-1 home defeat against Manchester City at the Bernabeu in the Champions League last-16 first leg.

The game saw City boss Pep Guardiola pull off a trademark tactical surprise playing Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne as false number nines, and Gabriel Jesus on the left-wing. The decision paid-off, but in truth, if the Citizens had fielded a full-strength team then it could have been embarrassing for the home team.

Real Madrid were lacklustre

Real Madrid are challenging reigning Spanish champions Barcelona for the Spanish title. However, Los Blancos produced a poor first hour of the game, threatening very little and looked like they lacked attacking ideas. The pace of their game was so slow, that City found them very easy to deal with.

Their goal on the night was not created by any brilliant attacking play, it was created because of mistakes from City defenders. After the goal, the Spanish team seemed to have their tails up, but once City equalised with 12 minutes left on the clock through Jesus, Real Madrid just slumped.

Zinedine Zidane’s team conceded a second goal from the penalty spot five minutes later, as De Bruyne calmly slotted hot from the penalty spot. The situation got even worse on 86 minutes when captain Sergio Ramos saw red.

Zidane got key decisions wrong

The current Real Madrid team is certainly not as good as the one Zidane led to European glory in his first spell in charge. However, there are still quality players in the team and squad. It seemed that the Frenchman set his team up wrongly to counteract City.

This led to a lack of attacking threat. The team lacked any spark in attack, despite the presence of Brazilian starlet Vinicius Junior on the wing and French striker Karim Benzema as the focal point of the attack. Isco is a top player, but maybe Zidane had the option of starting Gareth Bale.

The fact he omitted Bale from the starting line-up is not a surprise, as he has been far from a regular starter for the club from the Spanish capital this season. However, the Welshman tends to produce in big games and score vital goals when his team needs them.

Zidane waited until 15 minutes from the end to bring on Bale and the former Tottenham star had little chance to impress. Los Blancos may have been ahead when the winger came on, but he played no part in the home sides defensive collapse in the last 12 minutes.

Los Blancos needed big result ahead of El Clasico

Wednesday night’s result was not just harmful to their European campaign, but it could also have a big effect on the team’s morale heading into Sunday night’s El Clasico clash with arch-rivals Barcelona. Zidane’s team are favourites to win the big game in La Liga.

However, Los Blancos are now underdogs at odds of 9/2 to win the second leg of the last-16 Champions League tie in Manchester. The absence of the experienced Ramos for the second leg could have a bi gearing on the match.

In truth, the current edition of Real Madrid is not great. They are a far cry from the team that saw Cristiano Ronaldo star and dominated the Champions League. Things must improve or this season could go downhill very quickly for Los Blancos.

Did Zinedine Zidane get his tactics wrong against Manchester City?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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