My first memory of a game between Real Madrid and Manchester City dates back precisely to the first ever duel between meringues and citizens , on September 19, 2012, the date on which my late father celebrated his 53rd birthday.
At the time, the English team was looking to take the first clear steps in the Champions League, after being stuck in the group stage the previous season, when it fell at the feet of Bayern Munich and Napoli. This time, he had Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax in the same group .
In the first round, the team coached by Roberto Mancini traveled to the Spanish capital to visit the favorites to win the group, Real Madrid with José Mourinho, Pepe, Fábio Coentrão and Cristiano Ronaldo .
Manchester City managed not only to resist the meringues ‘ good entry , but also to assume control of operations from the half hour of the game until close to half-time .
The null resisted until the 69th minute, when Dzeko put the citizens in advantage, with a pass from Yaya Touré, who did very well to lead a quick transition .
Seven minutes later, Real Madrid reached the tie, through an improbable shot by Marcelo with the right foot – with a deflection in the middle by Javi García –, following some good individual work .
At 85′, Manchester City took the lead again, through a direct free-kick by Kolarov .
Was the winner decided? Would the English team have secured, with that goal, at least one point? None of that. Benzema tied the game in the 87th minute, with a pass from Di María, and the inevitable Cristiano Ronaldo made it 3-2 for the Whites as the curtain fell .
In a kind of chronicle written for this blog, he said that it was a “great game, an anthem to football, between two of the best teams in the world”. If in the first half Casillas was a “mere spectator” and Real Madrid felt difficulties due to “City’s defensive strategy, with a midfield and even a very populated area”, in the second half the citizens stretched out on the field and played with a higher block, which made the game more open. The final stretch of the meeting, this one, was described by me as “crazy” .
Individually, on the Real Madrid side, I highlighted the “irreprehensible” Pepe, the “very interventionist” Di María, and the “dynamics and creativity” given by Mesut Ozil and the “wanna” with which Benzema entered. Among the Manchester City players, I highlighted the “physical capacity” of Yaya Touré, “probably the best unit on his team”.
Real Madrid would end up quietly reaching the qualification for the round of 16, with 11 points – three less than Borussia Dortmund –, but Manchester City again disappointed, not going beyond three points (drawing all games at home ) and last place in the group .