Real Madrid are Champions League royalty, meanwhile, Manchester City are the rebels in the Champions League. It was always going to be an exciting tactical battle between Zinedine Zidane and Pep Guardiola.
But no one would have predicted Raphael Varane to gift two goals to Manchester City. The World Cup winner was known to have a calm head but on yesterday, he made two defensive errors and gifted two goals.
In the 9th minute, he was trying to keep the ball at his feet and was dispossessed by Jesus very easily inside the penalty box and gave a simple pas to Sterling for a tap in. After making this error, it was expected from Varane to step up. Benzema equalised and Real Madrid had a chance again.
But Varane made an uncharacteristic error again. He was unable to clear a long ball first time and then he clearly saw Jesus running behind him. Instead of heading the ball towards the throwline, he headed the ball towards the goal which fell sweetly in Jesus’ path, who made no mistake to slot the ball home. With that goal, Real Madrid’s hopes of progressing almost faded away. They crashed out of the Champions League 4-2 on aggregate and 2-1 on the night.
Before the match started, everyone thought Eder Militao to be the weak link in the match. He was far from the best in the match and is miles away before just thinking of replacing the Spanish legend Sergio Ramos.
But it was Varane’s defensive errors which have cost them the match. This match will raise a question on Varane’s leadership ability. He was given the responsibility of managing the backline and he failed miserably. Probably he needs an experienced leader like Ramos beside him to perform.
Yesterday, Real Madrid once again felt Sergio Ramos’ absence. No one was there to motivate and lead the team. You can see a player’s importance in his absence and Madrid are far off finding a replacement for one of the best defenders and leaders of the game!
👉@raphaelvarane: "I want to step up. This defeat is my fault, all mine. I have to accept that. I am sorry for my teammates and all the effort they put in." #HalaMadrid | #RMUCL pic.twitter.com/STZuCH1xH1— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) August 7, 2020
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said post-match: “We are here to try to win the Champions League. This is just one step. I am more than happy for the players to get to Portugal. We know exactly which team we beat. We are satisfied.”
“Of course, it’s important for us. We beat them twice. They have never lost two knockout games. To win this competition you have to win against teams like Madrid, Barca and so on. When you play against Real Madrid, you realise how good they are. You can see the personality they play with; they are good. When you are on the sidelines and see the personality and charisma, it looks like they are playing a friendly – they play this kind of game thousands of times.”
“We weren’t keen to defend 1-1. We tried to score and couldn’t; Courtois made some saves – but we deserve to be in the next stage. We scored two goals from their mistakes. It’s not easy and we tried to convince them to attack, but we are in the quarter-finals and we are happy.”
This is the second consecutive season Real Madrid has been knocked out in the round of 16 of the Champions League and surprisingly, Sergio Ramos was absent from both the matches. It clearly shows Ramos’ importance to the team.
Real Madrid will now focus on turning things around in the next season, while Guardiola will be hoping to lift the Champions League trophy this season after missing out on the Premier League.
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