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Champions League Review: An All Madrid Affair

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The 2015/16 Champions League final will be an all-Madrid affair after Real Madrid beat Manchester City by a goal to nil at the Bernabeu to take them through t the final 1-0 on aggregate.

Champions League Review: An All Madrid AffairRio Ferdinand said it the best on BT Sport.

“They {Man City players} will wake up this morning and realise how close they came.”

The in match views from the commentary teams and the post-match views from the pundits were all too generous in their appraisal of Manchester City’s performance against Real Madrid.

“They didn’t do enough.”

“They weren’t good enough, on the night.”

They didn’t go far enough.

It was a disgraceful performance. Every player who wore that shirt should be ashamed of themselves. It was the semi-final of the Champions League. The most prestigious title in club football. They were a single goal away from competing with Atletico Madrid in the final. And they didn’t seem to care.

I would have more sympathy if Real played them off the park. That didn’t happen. At times, I thought I was watching a friendly. City played the game in reverse. Madrid won with the handbrake on. Manuel Pellegrini’s men went into the tie knowing an away goal would set the lion amongst the pigeons. So how is it possible to get through 95 minutes of football without having a shot on target?

It was Pellegrini’s last game in charge of a Champions League game while holding the reins at the Etihad. It was his most pathetic. How can you start with slow, lumbering, lazy, Yaya Toure in midfield, and leave the young, energetic, vibrant, goal scoring machine of Kelechi Iheanachao on the bench?

Where on earth did he find Nicolas Otamendi? He was like a two-year-old kid skidding around in the dirt. And what happened to the world-beater Kevin de Bruyne? He looked like he had spent too much time in the sun. His impact on the tie was negligible. And why was Wilfried Bony sat on the bench when they desperately needed a goal? Why didn’t he throw him on? Surely, he was a better choice that Raheem Sterling.

Madrid did enough. They didn’t have to do more. They had won all five of their Champions League home games, scoring bucketloads and conceding none. Ronaldo missed the first leg, but he was back for the second. He barely had an impact on the match. Instead, it was the industry and flair of Isco and Luka Modric that won it for Madrid.

A fluke settled the dull, drab, affair. Gareth Bale broke free in the box, tried to float a cross into the six-yard area, but it took a deflection off Fernando and looped over the desperately diving Joe Hart. The goal came 10-minutes after City’s injury prone captain Vincent Kompany limped off the pitch with another muscle injury. The flow of the game wasn’t affected. Madrid rarely threatened.

The key to City advancing was Sergio Aguero, so it was painful to see him drift deeper and deeper looking for the ball. His only shot came in the 88th minute when he sent a screamer over the bar from 40-yards. Had it dipped a few inches lower it would have been a travesty. City didn’t deserve to go through. It was a shambolic performance.

The Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane said before the match that his team would have to suffer for 90-minutes. He was partly right, with one omission. We all suffered for 90-minutes. I would have preferred to have watched a re-run of Knots Landing.

Real Madrid will now play Atletico Madrid in the final at the San Siro on  Sat, May 28. It’s a repeat of the 2013/14 final when a Sergio Ramos goal in injury time spoiled the party for Atletico. Madrid went on to win with three extra time goals from Gareth Bale, Marcelo, and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Historically, Real Madrid is the kings of Europe. They will head to the San Siro searching for an unprecedented 11th win. Atletico has never won it. However, Atletico has a much better head-to-head record. They are unbeaten in their last six La Liga meetings, and Real have never won at the San Siro in 11 visits to the famous stadium.

The bookies can’t split them.

Real Madrid is currently 3/4, and Atletico Madrid is 6/5.

Odds courtesy of Oddshark.com

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