A week after the passionate first leg, Real Madrid and Manchester City meet Wednesday night at the Bernabéu to name the second guest for the C1 final which will be played at the Stade de France later this month. There are also two visions of football that will be debated: the football of individuals against that of collective expression.
05/03/2022 – 21:00
C1 – Half
“There is no secret: we work hard every day. ” So Karim Benzema, who arrived without a map and without a compass in 2009 in Madrid before gradually becoming one of the sharpest adventurers on one of the most unique islands in football history, ended a fun evening at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium last Tuesday. The French striker, who then competed in the 600And match of his life with the shirt of Real, he is no longer 21, but now he is 34, and continues to work miracles in the heart of a season where he has more fun than ever to overflow the plate. We can talk about it with numbers – 42 goals scored in 42 games played in all competitions, of which 14 in 10 Champions League games, and 13 assists – but also with images: Benzema is today the symbol of a mysterious, but happy Real , winner this weekend of 35And Spanish champion title in its history, which proudly represents the players’ football. A football, led by a peasant son turned wise coach whose qualities as a peacemaker break down borders, which unites chaos rather than order, shines thanks to the ideas of individuality installed in a simple structure and can be a confusing object of study. .
“They don’t make a fuss. If you don’t push them, they push you. For more than thirty years, Real have faced matches as if it were an arm wrestling. They experience each encounter as a duel. ” Xavi
On Wednesday evening, in a Santiago-Bernabéu whose powers have been deciphered for the umpteenth time in the hours preceding the absorption of PSG by the irrational in the previous round, a new episode will be played: beaten by a hair on the scoreboard (4 -3) of the City in the course of a first round that saw him in spite of everything being devoured in long sequences, Real, miraculously still alive in this confrontation, on the occasion of joining the seventeenth C1 final of its history. Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are still far superior to him, but Real remain Real, which Xavi had perfectly detailed after PSG’s 3-1 defeat at the Bernabéu in February 2018: “I have already experienced it with Barça. Tell yourself: “Fuck, we’re playing better than them.” You hit the post and then you think: “Ouch, ouch, ouch, why didn’t this one come home …” There you barely have time to complain that Real have already scored a goal for you from a counterattack. He’s not there with them “AIE Aie Aie” you hate “ouch, ouch, ouch”. They don’t make a fuss. If you don’t push them, they push you. For more than thirty years, Real have faced matches as if it were an arm wrestling. They experience each encounter as a duel. They look you straight in the eye and challenge you. Do you want to attack? Come on, we’ll do it too, but if you don’t sign, we’ll insert it for you. ”
A personality test and a party to continue
Pep Guardiola knows this story like the back of his hand, which is why he presented this semi-final return to Madrid as a “personality test” for his men. In his master class recently given to The coach’s voicededicated to Liverpool’s exploits against Barça in May 2019, Pep Lijnders, assistant to Jürgen Klopp, insists that the worst enemy of the players is ” the doubt ” . Which brings us back to the very essence of what City is: a representative of the football of plans, worked circuits, collective expression. During the first leg fireworks, it was thanks to their certainties and their collective superiority that the Mancunians, led by two goals on three occasions and different recipes worked by Guardiola’s arrival on the City bench were served on the table. The first two goals scored by the Citizens in particular it derives from a classic movement, in which the opponent of the City is stretched on both sides across the entire width to create doubts, overcrowding and spaces to attack for other offensive players thrown rather than placed.
We have also seen, in bulk, the ability of the locals to put their guests in emergency, the central players who take initiatives with the ball at their feet or even a player (Zinchenko) who occupies three roles in the same match. But it was not enough: even Pep Guardiola saw his men, more brilliant in transition than in the offensive phase where Real did not give much, munching on several golden opportunities. In this first confrontation, the gap between a well-sharpened City and a Real who above all knew how to transform the small doors opened by his opponent often seemed colossal. Two visions of football collided, almost two visions of life, and the evening at the Bernabéu will have to reward one. Real, deprived of David Alaba for this return, are now relieved of the stress of a title race, unlike Manchester City, which had to wait until the second half of the trip to Leeds to have some fun last Saturday. Anything seems to happen and it is likely that a little of everything will happen in this second leg semi-final which should, once again, overshadow tactical considerations. Turn on the lights. May the party continue.
By Maxime Brigand