Rodrygo unexpected hero, Benzema still there, Guardiola overwhelmed: the ups and downs of Real Madrid and Manchester City

The peaks

  • Rodrygo, the star of the evening
Carlo Ancelotti had a hollow nose sending him in place of Toni Kroos. A decidedly offensive choice that paid off for him. Not immediately obviously. But after Riyad Mahrez’s goal, the Brazilian changed everything. In seconds, exactly 91. Karim Benzema’s first scorer on a serve, he headed again in injury time to snatch extra time. A magical double. Like the Madrid night.

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  • Karim Benzema, decisive as always

It has long been found to be very boring. A far cry from the impact it had during this campaign. Too vague for once. And then he finally woke up to be decisive once again. KB9 provided for the first time an assist on a perfect throw-in for Real’s equalizer. And in extra time he committed a foul in the area by Ruben Dias, obtaining a penalty that he obviously converted. The story to continue his crazy series in C1 this season. Scorer of 15 goals in this edition, he has scored 10 wins in knockout matches equaling Cristiano Ronaldo. And he will still have a game to make history.

  • Camavinga, the gentleman is no longer on the bench

Once again, he entered the field during the Champions League match. And once again the former Rennais has been able to play a fundamental role. Already decisive against PSG in the round of 16, but also against Chelsea in the quarter-finals, Camavinga brought an extra boost to the pitch: the icing on the cake, the midfielder was decisive. Twice. He first moved Karim Benzema with a sublime opening on Real Madrid’s first goal. And then he made the difference by hitting the ball in extra time on the action in which KB9 got a penalty. Mister more.

  • Courtois and Mendy, the saviors who kept hope alive (and a little more)

Thibault Courtois and Ferland Mendy kept Madrid afloat at their worst. When the boat could have sunk for good. In the 87th minute, the former Olympique Lyonnais player blocked an attempt by Jack Grealish into the wide open goal for the first time. And a few seconds later, Grealish himself ran into a great Courtois this time, author of eight saves this Wednesday night!

  • Bernardo Silva – Kyle Walker, at the appointment

Coming back to everyone’s surprise after three weeks of absence, Kyle Walker did a world of good in defense of the Citizens, especially in the first period. His duel with Vinícius Júnior has long been one of the keys to the game. And the two interventions by the English international on the Brazilian, one of which was magnificent in the 41st, delayed the deadline. Logically tired from the repetition of the efforts imposed by Vinícius, he slowed down in the second half. Exhausted, he then asked to go out in the 63rd, which Pep Guardiola refused him as a symbol of his importance before leaving the lawn after the contact (72nd). He was a major citizen with Bernardo Silva, who took the game alone when Kevin de Bruyne was in trouble. The Portuguese, always available and very active, was also decisive on the Mancunian goal.

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  • Guardiola, the anti-Ancelotti

However, he seemed to be doing all right with his first few changes. A few seconds after their entry, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Ilkay Gundogan made the difference by finding themselves at the origin of the opening of the Mancunian score. But in the end it was Carlo Ancelotti, who didn’t hesitate to take out his midfield managerial trio, the big winner of the evening. Because Guardiola was unable to find the words and solutions to keep his team afloat in the fury of the final race. The brilliant Catalan once again leaves the C1 from the back door. And he continues his black series in the Champions League. His last coronation dates back to 2011. Another era.

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  • Kevin De Bruyne, an absent conductor

It had radiated out, in the first period. It wasn’t the same story this Wednesday. At the Santiago Bernabeu the Belgian did not shine, as usual. Rarely at the right times he had a lot of waste and did not weigh on the animation of the Citizens. A performance far from his standards and from his immense talent. Pep Guardiola did not hesitate to eliminate him from the 72nd.

  • Jack Grealish, inches away

His history with Manchester City is not already idyllic. But he was unable to take advantage of the Madrid evening to forget the 117 million invested for him. Returning to the 78th, the Englishman nevertheless had the opportunity to silence the critics. But twice he failed. First on a rescue from nowhere by Ferland Mendy, then on a tight rescue by Thibault Courtois.

Jack Grealish and Ilkay Gundoguan, during the Champions League semi-final second leg between Real Madrid and Manchester City, in May 2022

Credit: Getty Images

  • Casemiro, the feverish rock

His return was supposed to bring stability to the blockade of Madrid. But Casemiro was particularly lucky to stay on the pitch (and not get the slightest yellow!) On two fouls on Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden. Struggled in the first 45 minutes, the Brazilian made some changes after the break. But Real was mad after his exit (75th), when Carlo Ancelotti decided to get his old guard out of the center to launch the youngsters.

Kevin De Bruyne in the duel with Casemiro during the Champions League half return between Real Madrid and Manchester City

Credit: Getty Images

  • Dias – Laporte, creaky hinge

Manchester City’s defense had rectified this season, allowing very few hits. But in this semifinal it sank, crumbling on all sides. Finally, especially in axis. Already in trouble after the first break, Aymeric Laporte did not shine. Taking a silly yellow card a few minutes after the match started over an argument with Luka Modric, the Spanish international is very passive on Merengue’s second goal. And his board colleague was no longer inspired for once this Wednesday. Usually so precious, Ruben Dias did not reassure. He is involved in the first goal where he did not follow Rodrygo. And in extra time he gave Benzema the penalty.

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