Manchester City and Real Madrid, what happened?

Not a lot.

Last night, Manchester City hosted Real Madrid in the first leg of a much anticipated Champions League Semi-Final.

You could be mistaken for thinking it was a 11th place play-off game up until the 70th minute. Sergio Ramos eventually brought the game to life with a header that was caught by Joe Hart. Zzzz.

With Cristiano Ronaldo sidelined, Gareth Bale was always going to have big shoes to fill. He didn’t have much involvement until late in the game but when he did he brought Real to life.

The game may not have been a thriller but there were some great tactical pieces that we wanted to point out…

Overlapping and underlapping full-backs

One of Real Madrid’s models of play is creating attacking overloads through the advancing full backs. This is key for the team to change the angle of attack release and create opportunities, combinations and passing options into the front three. Marcelo and Carvajal provided width through overlapping and underlapping runs.

The Full Backs of Marcelo (12) and Carvajal (15) provided width when Madrid had possession in advanced areas of the pitch.

Marcelo (12) also made overlapping runs to offer width on the outside. However, he also looked to run inside of winger Jesé (20), who was providing width and passing options on the outside, to be able to receive infield and combine with Madrid midfield and forward players.

Bale receiving between the lines

Real Madrid found it difficult to penetrate the Manchester City defence and at half time Zidane substituted Benzema for Jesé to change the shape of the team and allow Gareth Bale more freedom in the centre of the pitch.

Bale (11) positioned himself behind City’s holding midfielders of Fernando (6) and Fernandinho (25). This allowed Bale to receive the ball between the midfield and defensive lines of Manchester City to attack the back line.

This caused problems for Kompany (4) and Otamendi (30) as Bale dribbled with the ball diagonally, attempting to drag the centre backs out of position to create space for himself or team mates to attack and drawing fouls in the process.


City, especially in the second half, looked to play to De Bruyne (17) with direct balls, to attack the space behind the advanced Carvajal (15).

Attacks were also played through Agüero (10) who combined with De Bruyne (17) and would spin off to provide an option ahead of the ball.

Real Madrid must fancy themselves to progress to the Final despite scoring an away goal. Will the return of Cristiano Ronaldo prove too costly for City, we’ll find out soon.

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