On Wednesday night, Real Madrid suffered a 2-1 home defeat
against Manchester City at the Bernabeu in the Champions League last-16
The game saw City boss Pep Guardiola pull off a trademark tactical
surprise playing Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne as false number
nines, and Gabriel Jesus on the left-wing. The decision paid-off, but in
truth, if the Citizens had fielded a full-strength team then it could
have been embarrassing for the home team.
Real Madrid were lacklustre
Real Madrid are challenging reigning Spanish champions Barcelona for
the Spanish title. However, Los Blancos produced a poor first hour of
the game, threatening very little and looked like they lacked attacking
ideas. The pace of their game was so slow, that City found them very
easy to deal with.
Their goal on the night was not created by any brilliant attacking
play, it was created because of mistakes from City defenders. After the
goal, the Spanish team seemed to have their tails up, but once City
equalised with 12 minutes left on the clock through Jesus, Real Madrid
Zinedine Zidane’s team conceded a second goal from the penalty spot
five minutes later, as De Bruyne calmly slotted hot from the penalty
spot. The situation got even worse on 86 minutes when captain Sergio
Ramos saw red.
Zidane got key decisions wrong
The current Real Madrid team is certainly not as good as the one
Zidane led to European glory in his first spell in charge. However,
there are still quality players in the team and squad. It seemed that
the Frenchman set his team up wrongly to counteract City.
This led to a lack of attacking threat. The team lacked any spark in
attack, despite the presence of Brazilian starlet Vinicius Junior on the
wing and French striker Karim Benzema as the focal point of the attack.
Isco is a top player, but maybe Zidane had the option of starting
The fact he omitted Bale from the starting line-up is not a surprise,
as he has been far from a regular starter for the club from the Spanish
capital this season. However, the Welshman tends to produce in big
games and score vital goals when his team needs them.
Zidane waited until 15 minutes from the end to bring on Bale and the
former Tottenham star had little chance to impress. Los Blancos may have
been ahead when the winger came on, but he played no part in the home
sides defensive collapse in the last 12 minutes.
Los Blancos needed big result ahead of El Clasico
Wednesday night’s result was not just harmful to their European
campaign, but it could also have a big effect on the team’s morale
heading into Sunday night’s El Clasico clash with arch-rivals Barcelona.
Zidane’s team are favourites to win the big game in La Liga.
However, Los Blancos are now underdogs at odds of 9/2 to win the second leg of the last-16 Champions League tie in Manchester. The absence of the experienced Ramos for the second leg could have a bi gearing on the match.
In truth, the current edition of Real Madrid is not great. They are a
far cry from the team that saw Cristiano Ronaldo star and dominated the
Champions League. Things must improve or this season could go downhill
very quickly for Los Blancos.
Did Zinedine Zidane get his tactics wrong against Manchester City?