No matter the opposition, the winner of the Champions League has to beat them all in order to hold aloft the famous trophy.
For many, it’s the Holy Grail of football. The pinnacle. The chance to show that you’re the best in Europe.
That’s a position that Real Madrid have been in on 14 occasions so far, with Man City unable to join them at football’s top table.
Speaking in the aftermath of the 1-1 draw between Real and City, midfielder Rodri told the official Man City website that:
“Very tough always when you come here(Santiago Bernabeu). The lads were incredible, the effort was there.
“Sometimes it’s difficult against this team, because they have a lot of quality. The first 25 to 30 minutes we controlled the game so good. With their first chance they scored an incredible goal.
“We stayed in the game. With our philosophy we didn’t get fazed, we kept playing even though it was difficult.”
It’s clear that for the majority of the first leg of their semi-final, Man City were the better team by a distance.
They were unable to turn that dominance into clear cut chances or goals, however, and so it was against the run of play when Los Blancos went ahead.
“I think the key was shooting. Kevin [De Bruyne] found the goal and in the last minutes we struggled a bit to keep the ball, but this is normal,” Rodri continued.
[It takes] a lot of concentration. When you lose the ball it’s hard to regain it because they have a lot of quality. The effort of the lads was incredible.
“We were suffering a bit in the second half because they were keeping the ball, but with his goal he gave us the confidence to keep pushing, even though we didn’t get clear chances. It’s a good result for us.
“We knew no matter what happened here this is not the end. We have the second game at home. We will need the people to support us.”
A good omen for Manchester City?
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) May 9, 2023
Pep Guardiola and his side now have the best chance to finally break their European hoodoo and go on to lift the trophy.
It will certainly take guile, experience, courage and the incredible desire to just keep winning football matches in order for City to overcome the reining champions.
From Carlo Ancelotti’s perspective, the Spanish giants have nothing to lose as they head to England.
It promises to be another wonderful advert for the beautiful game.
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