You’d be forgiven if you thought you were watching the red half of Manchester on Tuesday night. After all, there was plenty of attacking talent on the field, but there certainly weren’t any goals, or even the threat of any as neither Real Madrid nor Manchester City devoted enough players forward to provide any potency to their attacks in a lifeless 0-0 draw in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinal.
You can try to sugarcoat it all you want but the bottom line is not much happened. When the halftime whistle blew neither team had gotten so much as a shot on target, which this season has been something that has happened in Manchester far more often than normal. But again, that’s the red half, not the blue half with their high priced stars and the attitude that they can sign anyone.
Cristiano Ronaldo wasn’t included in the match day squad as he failed a fitness test before the match due to a thigh injury he suffered a few ago. That’s still hardly an excuse for the lack of attacking in a game that still featured Karim Benzema, Luka Modric, James Rodriguez, Sergio Aguero, Kevin de Bruyne, and Gareth Bale. David Silva started the match but came off injured in the 40th minute but was replaced by Kelechi Iheanacho who has excelled this season when given the chance.
Despite the plethora of attacking talent available to both teams the result wasn’t completely shocking.
While Manchester City were boosted by the return of captain Vincent Kompany on defense their defense over the course of the season could be described as anything but consistent. Over the past few games of their own, Real’s defense has also been exposed from time to time.
Therefore it makes sense that both teams were going to come out cautious in this game as they feel each other out. In other words stay back, don’t concede any goals, hope one of your very talented attackers pulls off a moment of magic to put you ahead. If that sounds familiar, it’s exactly how the first Manchester Derby of the season was played back in October, which also finished 0-0.
If you were put off by what you saw today and are thinking of possibly skipping out on the second leg between these teams next week I have one word of advice for you; don’t.
The first leg may have been a dull encounter that could put even the most avid fan to sleep, the second leg will be exactly the opposite. When the two teams meet again next week at the Bernabau, Manchester City will enter the game needing a goal to advance. That means they will have to attack attack attack.
Should City get that goal, Real will need at least two to advance to the final. With the home fans at their back, you can expect Los Blancos to let their full arsenal of attackers, which will likely include Cristiano Ronaldo this time around, loose against City.
And don’t forget why both teams were so timid in the first leg. Both have recently had the frailties of their back lines exposed recently. Now add in world class attackers on both sides trying to exploit those weaknesses and you’ve got a recipe for a thrilling game.
If you suffered through the full 90 minutes of this one, you’ve earned the right to watch a great game. If I were a betting man, I’d say you’ll get it next week.