Real Madrid vs Man City: Thibaut Courtois makes four early saves as City continue to dominate champions
Follow Mail Sport’s live blog for the Champions League semi-final first-leg clash between Real Madrid and Manchester City.
34min: We’re finally back underway and Rodrygo’s cross is just over Vinicius’ head.
Madrid not interested in pressing again and Dias walks through the middle unchallenged. Madrid though win a corner, their first of the game.
Modric crosses from the short corner and Walker heads away.
30min: Madrid, who have had just 72 per cent of possession so far, have decided to start pressing high after winning the ball up the pitch there.
Grealish is fouled by Carvajal and wants a booking for the defender. So does Guardiola, but not yet.
Gundogan hits the deck under pressure from Rudiger and it’s a head injury so play will stop and give everyone a breather. A chance for the managers to pass on some words, too.
26 min: City are getting so much joy on the right and Walker’s cross this time is blocked for a corner. The cross from De Bruyne is again poor, however.
Whistles around the Bernabeu now.
Woah! From nowhere, Vinivious nicks the ball off Rodri and get a low cross in. Ederson is nowhere near it but Dias gets back just in time to intercept ahead of Benzema, who was waiting to tap it into an empty net.
21min: A low ball in from Silva is boor and Kroos intercepts.
Stones drives through the middle once again and hits the deck on the edge of the box but the referee waves play on. The period of play ends with Gundogan curling over.
19min: Another save from Courtois, again from Haaland as the big forward heads Grealish’s cross. Straight down the Belgian’s throat from a tough angle.
Madrid come forward but Carvajal fouls Gundogan. Stones breaks forward with the ball and plays Silva, but he fouls Camavinga.
Madrid break and Rodrygo feeds Benzema. It looks as if the forward is in, but Ederson sprints off his line and gets there first.
15min: Grealish tries to play a one-two with De Bruyne on the left but Carvajal intercepts. The crowd then try to get Madrid into the game but they just can’t get ahold of the ball for any period of time.
They do now and Vinicius tries to beat Walker in a foot race but the City man has the better of him on this occasion.
Good build-up play from City and Rodri shoots from about 20 yards, as we know he can. It’s good and on target, but Courtois saves again.
The cross comes in from the corner and Haaland and Dias are going for it. Haaland could get there, but he takes a little nudge from Carvajal and hits the deck. He wants a penalty but not on this occasion.
Courtois then saves from Haaland, whose first effort of the game is tame. It’s all City.
10min: The Bernabeu is silent as City continue to dominate. Silva squares up Camavinga and Walker’s run opens up some space for De Bruyne. He shoots from the edge of the box, and Courtois gets down to save.
De Bruyne’s corner is deep and City regroup. The ball is theirs right now.
8min: More possession for City, this time on the right, and Haaland ends up with the ball at his feet in the box, though Kroos tackles the forward.
The crowd breathe a sigh of relief as the hosts finally get their foot on the ball. City though get it back with Ederson – Madrid have no interest in pressing him. A fascinating tactical battle.
6min: City send a free-kick into the box and Stones heads down well but fails to find a City man.
Vinicius breaks for the hosts and looks for Benzema but Grealish gets back to intercept. The ball bounces off the forward, luckily falling to Dias instead of the Ballon d’Or winner.
Corner now for City. De Bruyne to take – Dias flicks on and Grealish is one on one on the left. Gundogan shoots, but Carvajal blocks.
3min: The game starts the with ball in Madrid’s final third after a long ball from Ederson. Grealish fouls Rodrygo though as the hosts break, maybe one that may have been a yellow later on in the game.
City regain the ball again and Stones steps into midfield, as we thought he might. Haaland is fouled in the Madrid half by Rudiger.
Grealish seems to be struggling after that challenge, but he’ll be fine. I think.
1min: After the anthem, the handshakes, and the exchange of flags, we are underway at the home of the champions.
The teams are on their ways out at the Bernabeu.
Five minutes to go. The teams will be with us soon.
The warm-ups are over in Madrid and the time for talking is almost over.
Around eight minutes until kick-off. I hope you’re ready.
Toni Kroos and Rodri have been speaking to BT Sport before kick-off.
‘At the moment no team is more difficult to play than Man City but we have confidence, we believe in our team,’ said Kroos.
‘We have different weapons like Erling,’ Rodri said. ‘We come here with the feeling that we know each other so well, we know what we want to do. Hopefully it can go well.’
What a battle that will be in the middle of the park.
Pep Guardiola is no stranger to the Bernabeu pitch but he’s been inspecting it ahead of kick-off.
I wonder how it feels. And if it’s up to standards.
‘He won more finals than me but he is older. I didn’t find any player managed by Ancelotti that said something bad about him,’ Guardiola has said of his opposing number on BT Sport.
We’ve looked at several key battles ahead of tonight but papers in Spain are looking at Haaland vs Vinicius tonight.
They may not be up against each other directly on the pitch, but they are their teams’ key men, and said team will look to them to perform tonight.
Read more below.
One of the most intriguing battles tonight will be Vinicius Jr vs Walker.
We’re talking one of the best wingers in the world up against one of the best defensive full-back’s in the world. Something has to give.
‘Walker had to play tonight,’ Joleon Lescott has said on BT Sport. ‘He hasn’t been in the team in recent weeks and possibly the injury to Ake has given him a chance, but he’s the only possible person that can catch Vinicius. Vinicius is going to go past the defender once or twice in the game.’
Rio Ferdinand added: ‘I can’t wait to see that battle. Vinicius is one of the most devastating players around at the moment. Walker lives for one versus one situations, so that’s going to be a key battle.’
Mail Sport’s Chris Sutton has picked out three key match-ups to keep an eye on tonight that could play a part in deciding the outcome of the game.
All six players start, so they really are worth watching. Have a read below.
The players have arrived at the ground ahead of this evening’s game.
You can cut the tension with a knife.
Pep Guardiola has swapped six from the side that beat Leeds on Saturday, with most of his first choice players rested for that one.
In are Walker, Dias, Stones, Silva, Rodri and Grealish, and out are Laporte, Ake, Lewis, Mahrez, Alvarez and Foden.
From the team that drew with Bayern in the second leg of their quarter-final, Walker replaces the now-injured Ake.
Just two changes from Carlo Ancelotti from the Madrid side that won the Copa Del Rey at the weekend, with Rudiger and Modric replacing Militao and Tchouameni.
Camavinga continues at left-back.
Just one change from the side that won the second leg of the quarters against Chelsea, with Rudiger in for Militao.
Ederson, Walker, Stones, Dias, Akanji, Rodri, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Silva, Grealish, Haaland.
Subs: Ortega, Carson, Phillips, Laporte, Alvarez, Gomez, Mahrez, Foden, Palmer, Lewis.
Madrid have gone very early with their team news…
Courtois, Carvajal, Rudiger, Alaba, Camavinga, Modric, Kroos, Valverde, Vinicius, Rodrygo, Benzema.
Subs: Lunin, Lopez, Vallejo, Nacho, Hazard, Asensio, Odriozola, Vasquez, Tchouameni, Ceballos, Mariano.
Would you like a combined XI from Madrid and City? Of course you would.
Ederson or Courtois? How to fit in all the defenders? Room for Haaland AND Benzema?
Have a read.
Some more snaps for you, this time from inside the Barnabeu.
It’s going to be absolutely mental in here in two hours. The definition of the calm before the storm.
Of course City lost to Madrid in the semi-final of last year’s competition, the last time the two sides faced off.
But Guardiola has changed his side a lot since then. We’ve seen defenders inverted to playing in midfield more often, Jack Grealish has been at his best and Erling Haaland is breaking all sorts of records.
Have a read of the piece below, where we break down how the side have changed since that heartbreak 12 months ago.
The city of Madrid is alive and has been flooded by fans from both Real and Manchester City.
European nights, eh? Nothing quite like them.
Guardiola has come across Madrid many times as a player and manager with his links to Barcelona.
But exactly how good is his record? Quite, it appears.
Read more below. It may be a factor tonight.
There is one thing that can be guaranteed when Manchester City play Real Madrid in the Champions League and that is goals – cue the 0-0.
The two sides have become accustomed to each other over recent years, playing in the round of 16 in the 2019-20 season, and again in the semi-finals last year.
Across four games, there have been 17 goals – nine for Manchester City and eight for Real Madrid.
Read more below about their previous meetings and see how many you can remember.
We’ll see so many stars in action tonight, but it’ll be up to Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola to decide exactly who.
Will John Stones return? Can we expect Erling Haaland to lead the line? Could Rodrygo see a good amount of minutes after his brace in the final?
We’ve looked at how the two sides could line up tonight.
Madrid come into the game on the back of winning the Copa Del Rey at the weekend, so momentum is good.
Before that, however, they lost 2-0 to Real Sociedad and also suffered a 4-2 defeat to Girona towards the end of April, meaning their form is slightly inconsistent.
In the Champions League, they too eased through their group before seeing off Liverpool in the last 16 and Chelsea in the quarters.
They’re looking to make it an English hat-trick.
Guardiola and co have picked it up in the run in and, as we know, are now favourites to win the Premier League.
They have five wins in a row and are unbeaten in 21 games.
In terms of the Champions League, they stormed their group and brushed past Leipzig in the round of 16 before hammering Bayern Munich at the Etihad and then getting the job done in Munich.
They will be so, so up for tonight, too.
As for Madrid… can you get much more experienced? 14 titles, five in the last decade, a manager that’s won it four times and a squad draping in European titles.
They haven’t had the best year. By their standards, it’s been one of their poorest, actually, 14 points behind arch rivals Barcelona in LaLiga and wondering if the power is shifting again in Spain.
But in the Champions League, they just seem to get it right. It’s the favourite competition.
Madrid are probably not as good as City. But City are entering their house tonight.
Manchester City have enjoyed so much success in recent years. So much.
They’ve lifted countless trophies. Premier Leagues, FA Cups, Carabao Cups. They’ve had the best manager in the world in their offices and on their touchline. They’ve seen some of the best footballers to have graced the game on their turf.
But they’ve never won the Champions League.
They probably came closest when they lost to Chelsea in the final two years ago, a game they were expected to win. This time, they are expected to win again.
City have a team of winners that know how to get the job done. They may have (very) limited experience of winning the Champions League in their ranks, but they’ve been here before. They’ve felt the heartbreak before.
They can almost taste it.
So it’s Madrid vs City, Ancelotti vs Guardiola, 14 Champions League titles vs… 0.
But City are all in on changing that and the defending champions stand in their way of reaching another final under Pep Guardiola.
Reaching the pinnacle of Europe is one accolade that has evaded the Spaniard since his move to England, but this may be a good a chance as he has had so far.
One could argue this is the toughest game of the three they main have remaining – Madrid away. But they blew away another of Europe’s elite in Bayern Munich in the last round and will fully plan on doing the same tonight.
It really doesn’t get much bigger.
Good evening one and all.
It’s the big one tonight. Real Madrid vs Manchester City. Strap in.
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