Real Madrid punished by two Varane mistakes

Before the game, it was Éder Militão who some people had their doubts about but on the night it was Varane who was at fault. And not just once – he was caught off guard twice and Madrid paid the price. I’ve always thought that without Sergio Ramos by his side, he’s not quite the same although perhaps that’s a bit harsh to think about a player who was a World Cup winner with France. But yesterday he had a nightmare. He more or less gifted City both of their goals and while he continues to command respect for the great player he is, last night’s display will leave a stain on his record. Madrid have been struggling to score goals and managed to get one when they needed at least two in Manchester but their security at the back was what enabled them to win LaLiga. Madrid’s defence, normally rock solid and reliable, was their undoing at the Etihad.

Benzema, companionless

It was a shame because the conditions going into the game were not so bad for Madrid. They adjusted well to the condensed fixture programme of the past couple of months, going from game to game. After the 1-2 win at the Bernabéu, City were on a roll and looked unstoppable. And so did Madrid who recorded ten wins on the trot. It could easily have turned out differently – at certain moments during the game, City look a little unsure of themselves but as soon as the first goal went in they were able to employ their high pressing game. In defence, City look vulnerable as was highlighted in Madrid’s equaliser. It’s a shame that Benzema, who was superb again, didn’t get much support up front last night. A couple of touches here and there from Rodrygo (who could have been a little more bold when he had the ball) and zero from Hazard.

Hazard's discreet season

Hazard actually deserves a paragraph all of his own. After being overweight when he first arrived (unforgivable), he then fell injured, didn’t look after himself which only delayed his return and finished the season with just one goal. In fact, it was only because the season was extended that Madrid were able to recover him. But nothing justifies playing Hazard instead of tireless worker Vinicius. We’ll see next season if he recovers his best form or not. But it’s quite clear that since Cristiano left Madrid for Juventus, Madrid don’t have the same punching power in attack – the kind of potency which is required at this level – even with Benzema toiling twice as hard as he usually does. Goals are hard to come by and for Zidane’s Madrid, it’s very much a case of work in progress…