Manchester City were held to a goalless draw against a Real Madrid side without Cristiano Ronaldo or a fully fit Karim Benzema in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday night, and must travel to the Santiago Bernabeu, which has seen Real score 18 goals with no reply, to play the return leg. So have City wasted a golden opportunity in the home leg?
After Tuesday’s clash against Los Blancos, City goalkeeper Joe Hart and defender Vincent Kompany both seemed content with the result. The latter said: “0-0 is a good result. It is hard to keep a clean sheet against such a good attacking team. Overall, we can be proud of what we have achieved in the first leg of this game. Obviously everything’s going to be played for next week now.”
Manchester City kept Real Madrid at the bay for the majority of the encounter at the Etihad Stadium, but in truth didn’t come close to scoring themselves. The best chances came from the visitors, and the challenge will only be great at the Bernabeu in May. City will progress with a score draw or victory, but Real haven’t failed to win a home game in the Champions League for 11 months.
As a result, Manuel Pellegrini’s men couldn’t wish for a harder clash, and their task of progressing in Real’s backyard will be made even more difficult with Cristiano Ronaldo set to feature and Benzema expected to return to better fitness levels by then. City really didn’t take advantage of Real without their two key players, and now they have to keep the Champions League’s top goalscorer quiet in a ground that has seen him at his prolific best.
Pellegrini believes in his side’s ability to go toe-to-toe with Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in order to book their place in the Champions League final, but had they showed a bit more of an attacking threat, they could have been in a situation where they could afford to lose the second leg providing they kept the deficit to just one goal.
“We are not afraid to go to the Bernabeu and we will see which team plays better then. We trust what we are going to do,” said Pellegrini after the game. The Chilean coach has often tried his hand matching his opponents in regard to a bold expansive playing style, and it’s always backfired in Europe. City were given a lifeline with the Champions League’s top goalscorer missing in the first leg, so will they come to regret blowing their best chance of progressing?