Champions League: Manchester City and Real Madrid take an option for the quarters by winning away

The serious things begin, and the tenors are there

Champions League: Manchester City and Real Madrid take an option for the quarters by winning away

The serious things begin, and the tenors are there. Manchester City, reigning European champion, and Real Madrid, undisputed master of the Champions League with its fourteen trophies, won on Tuesday February 13 in the first round of 16 first leg of the competition.

Thanks to its Belgian playmaker Kevin De Bruyne, the English club logically won on the pitch of the Danes of Copenhagen (3-1), and the Spaniards had to fight hard to bring back the narrowest of victories for Leipzig (1 -0).

The return matches will take place on March 6.

“We played the game we had to”: Pep Guardiola is relieved. Despite the difference in status between the two clubs, the Manchester City coach did not look down on Copenhagen, and chose to align his stars. Playmaker Kevin De Bruyne, who has made a thunderous return in recent weeks after a five-month absence due to injury, proved him right by putting in a full match.

Sometimes tickled by the Danish Lions determined not to give up, the reigning champions largely dominated the match – 85% of ball possession in the first twenty minutes – opening the score in the 10th minute. Served in depth by Phil Foden, De Bruyne placed a quick cross shot, his first goal in the Champions League this season, leaving no chance to FCK goalkeeper Kamil Grabara (1-0).

Then the Danes, without a competitive match for two months due to the mid-season break of the national championship, equalized thanks to a recovery of the right of the new recruit Magnus Mattsson, in the starting eleven thanks to the absence of Lukas Lerager, on a curling shot from 20 meters in the axis after a missed restart from Ederson, the Mancunian goalkeeper (1-1, 34th).

This action perked up Parken, the stadium a little sleepy after City's thunderous debut. But at the end of the first half, Bernardo Silva managed to deceive Kamil Grabara again, and gave the advantage back to Manchester City (2-1, 45 1), whose star scorer Erling Haaland remained shy. De Bruyne was still involved in the action.

In the second half, the Citizens' domination remained strong but seemed less threatening, better channeled by the five-man defense adopted by Jacob Neestrup, the young opposing coach, after the break. Just before the final whistle, Foden, on a pass from De Bruyne, dampened any Danish hopes (3-1, 90 2).

Manchester City maintains its frenetic pace with this eleventh consecutive victory, in all competitions. And the “sky blues” set the record for an English club with this ninth success in a row in the Champions League, riding on last season, crowned with the supreme coronation.

Jostled on the Leipzig pitch in the absence of their providential man Jude Bellingham, Real Madrid relied on a gem from his replacement Brahim Diaz to win on the Leipzig pitch. The Spanish playmaker gave the Madrilenians victory by unleashing a sublime shot from the left after a slalom between four opposing players at the start of the second half (48th, 1-0).

A new achievement in a big meeting this season for the former Milanese who has become a luxury joker for Carlo Ancelotti, already a scorer twice against Atlético Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup (5-3) and in La Liga last week (1-1).

“I’m very happy to be able to help the team, we continue to show that we are a great team. We had chances and so did they. It was a great match,” said the scorer of the day on Movistar .

Intractable in La Liga, the Merengues continue their flawless performance in the Champions League after a group stage completed with six victories in six matches, despite an incomplete squad and decimated by injuries. A massacre which seems to continue, the hero of the day Brahim Diaz, visibly injured in the calf, having been forced to give way to Lucas Vasquez in the 84th minute.

The Germans may regret not having been able to capitalize on their highlights in a lively first half, where they were on par with Real. The locals thought they would open the score in the second minute of play, before Benjamin Sesko's goal was refused for an offside position by Henrichs in front of Madrid goalkeeper Andriy Lunin.

The Merengue defense, which presented itself with a central Tchouaméni-Nacho hinge due to the absences of Eder Militao, David Alaba and Antonio Rüdiger, had difficulty managing the opposing attacks but ultimately showed itself to be very solid, despite several clear chances on the Leipzig side.

“We know that we play against great teams every time, especially in the Champions League. We know that we are going to have to stand our ground in certain phases of the game. But in the end we win, we continue to be solid,” summarized French international Aurélien Tchouaméni on Canal.

Real can thank its Ukrainian goalkeeper, author of several decisive interventions in front of Slovenian scorer Benjamin Sesko (10th, 51st, 62nd, 82nd) ​​and vigilant on the long-range attempts of Xavi Simons (81st) and Haïdara (82nd). A high-level performance which could allow Lunin to definitively establish himself as a starter in goal in his duel with Kepa Arrizabalaga, while awaiting the return of Belgian Thibaut Courtois for next season.