MATCHS DU JOUR 6
Benzema's 4-3 defeat of the Citizens in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final on Tuesday 26 April did not kill off Real Madrid. They can thank the French striker. Once again.
A crazy match. There was tactics, intensity and lots of goals: seven. Manchester City-Real Madrid: 4-3. For a Champions League semi-final (first leg), between two teams of this level, the performance is exceptional. Thus the Citizens take a good option on the qualification for the final. But nothing is decided yet. The Merengues have not said their last word. They have the means to reverse the trend in the second leg on Wednesday 4 May in Madrid.
Pep Guardiola's team had the cards to wrap up the game in the opening minutes. Manchester City were well positioned in a 4-4-2 formation and were in complete control from the outset. With the best possible use of space, players constantly on the move, a compact block and variety in the game, the Citizens were able to deploy their panoply of tactics without difficulty.
City enter through the right door
They were rewarded in the second minute. Riyad Mahrez received the ball on the right-hand side and took advantage of Bernardo Silva's false outside call. With his silky left foot, the Algerian striker laid the ball off to Belgian Kevin De Bruyne, who beat Carvajal and his compatriot Thibaut Courtois.
City had entered the game in the best possible way. With their hosts' control of space and the ball, Madrid looked destined for a nightmare Champions League evening. In the eleventh minute, Gabriel Jesus doubled the lead when he took advantage of a tight cross from De Bruyne.
Real Madrid were down to one knee. Karim Benzema, like a good captain, rallied his troops. He signals them to play high, to press their opponents. Carlo Ancelotti's men went on the attack. And when Modric collected the ball, Vinicius broke into the Citizens' box and tried to curl the ball in. Corner.
But in trying to react in this way, Madrid were left exposed and left plenty of space behind. The United players were quick to step into the gaps. The result was that on two occasions they came close to making it 3-0. Mahrez (26th) and then Foden (28th). Pep Guardiola is in a state of confusion.
The shepherd's replied. Benzema fed David Alaba in the opposition box, who had come up to the front. The Austrian's header went narrowly wide three minutes later, but the Madrid captain's determination was rewarded when he beat Zinchenko to Ferland Mendy's well-turned cross and slotted the ball past Ederson. 2-1. The game is back on track.
It was Benzema's thirteenth goal in the Champions League. His fortieth of the season in all competitions. The French striker has now scored the last nine goals for his team in the competition. It was the proof of a true "Benzema-dependency", which delighted Ancelotti.
After the break, it was the same old story. Manchester City started the game with a vengeance. It's a good thing that the team has a lot of experience in this area, but it's not all good news. Mahrez and then Foden hit Courtois' right-hand post. But it was only a matter of time before Courtois gave his team a 3-1 lead. Fernandinho took advantage of a mistake by Ferland Mendy to send in a perfect cross for the 21-year-old English striker, who gave the Belgian goalkeeper no chance.
Vinicius' response. The Brazilian striker kept Real Madrid alive with an individual feat after a run of over 60 meters.
Pep Guardiola’s reaction to Vinicius’s dummy 🤣 pic.twitter.com/LVv64SjFh2
— S. (@utdz0ne) April 26, 2022
Benzema not thinking about the Ballon d'Or
Less than 20 minutes later, Manchester City scored their fourth. As De Bruyne slipped on the edge of the Madrid area, Bernardo Silva collected the ball and instantly found the top corner of Courtois' net. 4-2.
It was all over again for Real Madrid, who were heading for defeat with a two-goal gap. But Karim Benzema reduced the gap with a penalty after Aymeric Laporte had fouled the ball in the box. It was a 14th Champions League goal for the Madrid captain and savior, who caught Ederson out with a Panenka.
Karim Benzema has once again helped Real Madrid pursue their dream of winning their 14th Champions League title. After single-handedly knocking out PSG in the last 16 and Chelsea in the quarter-finals, the former Lyon man will be looking to add City to the list.
If he succeeds, he would take another important step towards the Ballon d'Or title. But Benzema is adamant that he is not thinking about the trophy. The Frenchman, who was interviewed by Canal Plus at the end of the match, swore that he was focused on his team's two main objectives at the end of the season: La Liga and the Champions League.
The second Champions League semi-final first leg between Villarreal and Liverpool takes place on Wednesday 27 April (19:00 GMT).