Real Madrid vs Manchester City, summary: full time, score, goals & highlights | Champions League semi-final 22/23
Real Madrid vs Man City: as it happened
A team from Milan will be the other finalist...
That's all for the night from me! Thanks for joining the AS live coverage of Real Madrid 1-1 Manchester City. Make sure you're back tomorrow, when we've got the second semi-final... in Milan!
How to watch: AC Milan vs Inter
Anyone dare to predict what this might be?
We have to change a tiny bit in the second leg. I have an idea.
This is how the world reacted to the two golazos that we saw at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Here's a couple of snaps of the Vini rainbow flick
An amazing bit of skill from the Brazilian, who had a fantastic game overall.
Want to know who played well for Madrid, but in a methodical, organised way of ranking the players, ideally split into ten potential ratings?
Well, you can make up the ratings, but here's a good explainer on who performed best.
It’s going to be a complicated game next week, they are a great team. You have to suffer against them. You have to adapt against them.
It’s 50/50 for the next game. We’re not at home, but we have to win.
It was a very complete game, with two teams of a very high level. We started well, the first 30 mins we were fantastic. Their goal came from our press. The same thing happened for us when we scored and overall the game was very even.
They can damage you and we can do the same.
These games are about finding space, we study football so much, and they have great players. The team put in a great shift.
Were going to Manchester with everything to play for, our fans with help us.
We saw some tasty tackles in the game with a few yellow cards given out - but will that mean that any players will miss out on the game in Manchester?
Here's everything Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti had to say after the game tonight. The Italian was positive in his view of how things went, while acknowledging just how difficult the second leg will be.
In case you needed any more evidence of how topsy-turvy that was!
Opta have a brilliant graph that shows the momentum of the two teams: as you can see by the lines going up and down like a lie detector needle, the game was a tough one to call.
Pep Guardiola, post-match:
It was an even game, they scored when we were on top, we scored when they were playing better. Madrid are a fantastic team, and it will all be decided in Manchester.
There is no explanation to what happened with the goals and the momentum. It’s time to recover and prepare ourselves for the next game.
We will try our best have a good game in Manchester, it will be incredibly hard. We can defend better and let’s see if we can be more fluid in attack.
Madrid are great in transitions with Rodrygo, Vinicius and Valverde, who can run at top speed for 20 or 30 metres. We can’t do that, we need to have more calm on the ball.
Greatness respects greatness
Two of the most devastating young talents in world football immediately went to each other to say hello.
The MVP award goes to...
Kevin's super strike gives City a huge chance in the second leg, but away from that, I think Rüdiger will be slightly perplexed that he isn't hugging the MVP trophy in the dressing room.
Carlo Ancelotti, post-match:
I feel good, we competed and we fought well. We feel good, the result doesn’t give us what we deserve, but it’s a tie that will go down right to the last minute.
They had more of ball in first half an hour, but it didn’t worry us, we were well positioned and we waited for the right moment to transition efficiently. We could’ve won but we feel good.
The referee wasn’t very attentive to the foul (before the goal).
I'm very happy and excited for the next game. Its an even tie and yes, we play away, we don’t have the fans, which changes things a lot.
Kevin De Bruyne's strike was sensational:
Madrid will be disappointed that they failed in their build-up for the goal conceded, but the strike was utterly brilliant.
I told you the game was pretty topsy-turvy, especially in the second half, where only seasoned Tennis fans will have had the neck muscles to keep up with the movement of the ball.
Luka Modric post-match:
I think we had a good game, we knew the would come here and play with possession. They didn't create much with the ball and we had better chances than they did. The game at 1-1 means it is an open result and we’ll give our all for the second leg.
We know they like to play with possession, and it's hard to press them, but we were patient. They didn't really create a lot with ball, but we suffered and managed the game well. After our goal we got better with and without ball, and it’s a shame that they scored when they did.
It's all to play for in Manchester.
Maybe Real Madrid will be disappointed to come away with a draw, but on balance, the result is probably fair. Both teams threw everything at the game, with elite moments of attacking and defending from everyone.
Vinicius opened the scoring in the first half after a sustained period of City domination, reminding everyone that they are not be underestimated and that the number 14 on their shoulder counts for something. The goal rattled City and from then on, Madrid looked as cool as you'd imagine for a team with Modric, Kroos and Benzema.
Madrid started the second half brightly, with more possession and more control, but City gave them a taste of their own medicine with a gola out of nowhere, with De Bruyne scorching a shot past Courtois to stun the stadium.
From then on, for the last twenty minutes, the game tipped left and right, with no team able to get a firm grip on proceedings. Madrid probably had the clearer chances, culminating in a fantastic save from Ederson right at the final whistle.
The referee blows for the end of the game!
Nacho wastes a huge chance as he hits an effort high and wide from the edge of the box.
De Bruyne can't quite find Haaland as City launch a counter attack: Rüdiger again steps out at the right time to stop the ball reaching the Norwegian.
Camavinga gets away down the left and dances inside then out before seeing his shot blocked by Stones.
3 minutes added.
Tchouaméni receives the ball on the edge of the box and fires a lethal effort to the top corner, but somehow Ederson stretches to reach the ball!
WHAT A SAVE FROM EDERSON!!!!
Rüdiger steps in to block a pass from Grealish as Haaland runs through the Madrid defence like they aren't there. The Bernabéu crowd breathes a sigh of relief.
Modric's cross is cleared for a corner.
The referee gives a very dangerous free-kick for Real Madrid as Vini Jr jumps in to snatch the ball from Silva, but is brought down on the line of the box.
Vincius wows the crowd with a simply ludicrous rainbow flick over the head of Bernardo Silva. I know he's no giant, but that's just unfair.
City are looking to finish the game on the front foot, and have had the lion's share of possession over the last 10 minutes. Madrid are creeping backwards towards their own goal, knowing that Vinicius and Asensio are lurking up front.
Camavinga gets booked for a challenge on Rodri.
Kroos' free-kick was headed down at the far post by Benzema, but Ederson make a wonderful dive to the ground to stop it from sneaking into the goal.
WHAT A SAVE FROM EDERSON!
Ancelotti is chewing ferociously on the sidelines as he encourages his players not to drop off.
Valverde pops the ball through Akanji's legs before playing a ball into the box, but City scramble it away.
Akanji makes a well-timed tackle after Kroos finds Carvajal breaking away on the right. We've got fifteen minutes left and if you can call this tie, you're a braver soul than I am.
The pendulum is swinging wildly between the two teams, and the structures on the pitch are slowly falling apart. Having said that, the tempo has not dropped, with both teams still playing in fifth gear.
Alaba fires the free-kick high over the bar. A waste.
Gundogan apologises immediately after taking down Carvajal on the edge of the box. That was a tasty one.
De Bruyne is very red in the face. One day in the sun away from Manchester is all it takes.
We're back underway. City have 'done a Madrid', biting back when it looks like they're down and out.
Camavinga's pass is cut out by Rodrigo and the ball is fed to De Bruyne on the edge of the box, who slices a ferocious shot into the bottom corner of the goal, silencing the stadium.
WHAT AN AMAZING GOAL
KEVIN DE BRUYNE WITH A SCREAMER FROM THE EDGE OF THE BOX
Toni Kroos jumps in to stab a loose pass away from De Bruyne on the edge of the box. The German has, so far, proved all the doubters (including myself) wrong.
City can't cope with Madrid's relentless waves of forward play. They are making mistakes in defence and doubting what to do in split-second decisions.
This is definitely the best spell Madrid have had all game. City are now even finding it difficult to maintain possession as the press from the home side is working brilliantly.
Nothing given. We continue.
Benzema's cross found Valverde and the ball appears to have hit Grealish's arm...
Madrid are asking for a handball!
We've had an hour of play and the overall tide feels as though it is about to turn: the home side are creeping their way into the driving seat. The crowd are bouncing and the players are feeding off the confidence.
Valverde fires over from distance!
Madrid are finding their mojo.
It was a deflection... Madrid have a corner.
Ederson hesitates as Vinicius' shot bounces off a defender as everyone watches. The corner finds Rodrygo who whacks an effort skyward.
Real Madrid are still allowing City the ball, but the difference in this half is that the home side look a lot more comfortable when on the ball.
The Norwegian breaks in behind the Madrid defence and lines up the shot with the ball on his stronger foot, but Alaba slides in at the last second to block the effort and send the ball away.
ALABA WITH A HUGE BLOCK ON HAALAND
City are starting to find their spinning teacups formations; the move on the edge of the box ends with a De Bruyne shot that is saved.
Kroos steps in to poke the ball away from Haaland, who hasn't had a sniff so far this half.
Offside given on De Bruyne, but what an effort from the goalkeeper.
The midfielder broke down the right and fired a shot across goal that Courtois got an iron hand to.
COURTOIS MAKES A HUGE SAVE!!
Some delightful link-up play between Vinicius, Benzema and Carvajal ends with the Frenchman blasting a shot over the bar. A let off for Guardiola's side who had no way of stopping the trio.
MADRID GO CLOSE WITH BENZEMA!!
Madrid have started this half with the confidence that a goal gives you: they look much more comfortable on the ball as they pass through City's press.
Courtois catches De Bruyne's cross and Madrid try to counter before opting for some slower possession.
Carvajal gets down well to stop a through ball from City's left and the ball rolls out for an early corner.
He's back at left-back and just got skinned by Kevin De Bruyne, who starts the pattern again of Madrid being pushed back.
Camavinga has started as a midfielder; Real Madrid with some early possession.
Here we go again!
Real Madrid kick us off...
The players are out for the second half!
Some more Vinicius stats:
Ronaldo and Rodrygo have now been joined by Vinicius in Champions League goals for Real Madrid.
Are we allowed to call the goal a screamer?
Plenty of fans in the stadium definitely screamed, so I'll just leave it as it is. It was a wonderful effort from the player, that's for sure.
Well, well well... you just knew it would happen!
Real Madrid go into the break with a one-goal advantage after Vinicius' strike gave City the heebie jeebies just after the half hour mark. Guardiola's side had Madrid pinned into their own box for long stretches, with Los Blancos struggling to get out past the 20-yard line.
Real Madrid have had around 30% possession but we all know what they can do with just 1%. And with that, they go into the break with a smile on their face.
And that's all for now!
Kroos goes in very late on Gundogan and gets the game's first yellow.
We've just had another minute of handbags between the two. Not long to go now.
2 minutes added.
Carvajal down; it looks like Grealish retaliated after being shoved.
Akanji looks for Haaland with a cross that the world's tallest man would've complained about. City's nerves are rattling.
Pep looks very suave in his black blazer and jumper, but Carlo looks cooler. As I type this, Modric takes the ball out of the sky like he's picking apples, and is immediately voted to coolest person in the stadium.
Gundogan finds himself all alone on the right side and plays a delightfully tasty pass across the goal line for Haal- oh, nobody.
CHANCE FOR CITY
Remember, you can watch a live stream of the game on fuboTV (free trial available). You're welcome.
City are rushing passes as they try to regain ground at the Santiago Bernabéu, which now seems covered in white shirts.
Real Madrid smell blood. Benzema runs around City's defender on the left sideline and almost manages to find Vinicius inside the box, but his cross is blocked.
We're back underway. The crowd are jubilant.
Modric plays a lovely flick to Camavinga, who drives inwards and plays the Vinicius on the edge of the box. The Brazilian dances inside and unleashes a ferocious effort into the top corner! What a goal and what a noise from the crowd!
WHAT A STRIKE FROM THE BRAZILIAN
GOOOOOOLLLLLAAAAZZZZZZZOOOO FROM VINICIUS JUNIOR
Fede Valverde makes a typical run down the right leaving everyone behind before whipping in a wonderful cross to Benzema, who uses his arm to control the ball, which the referee sees.
WHAT A CHANCE FOR MADRID!
Vini makes a great tackle when Dias realises he has nobody ahead of him and makes a daring run 10 yards towards goal. Madrid counter with Camavinga and again we are reminded that Los Blancos have life in them.
Rodrygo plays a fantastic cross from the right towards Vinicius, whose effort to score a header from 10 yards out is admirable, if not a little ambitious.
Some magic water and we're back and ready to go.
We're stills stopped as Gundogan looks very dazed by that challenge. Fair enough, smashing into Rüdiger isn't something I'd look forward to either.
Ancelotti is taking advantage of the stoppage to scream at his players while he moulds invisible plasticine in the air.
The referee stops play as Gundogan is laid on the floor like he's taking advantage of being somewhere sunnier than Manchester. Rüdiger slammed into him, and it was quite a late challenge.
Grealish complains as Dani Carvajal makes a tactical foul on the counter-attacking player. Potentially the most hypocritical claim I've ever seen.
And that's how they get ya! Out of nowhere, Vini finds space on the left and plays a low ball through Stones' legs that almost finds Benzema as he slides in at the far post, but Rúben Dias clears.
WHAT A CHANCE FOR MADRID
Madrid try their luck but rush things with Kroos, of all people. Rodrygo made his way down the right and fed the German but the pass towards Benzema was way off.
City have Madrid pinned inside their own box as they taunt them with possession. It's like watching Matilda inside Mrs Trunchbull's chokey.
Wee little Luka Modric clears. The heart, and hair, of a lion.
Walker flies down the right and forces Camavinga into a last-gasp block. City have another corner and another chance to pressure the home side.
Gundogan, after some good work from City, fires over the bar.
John Stones had gone down in the build up but the referee saw that the player made a meal of the challenge and told him to get up, despite the players asking for a penalty.
Karim Benzema gets played in behind as Madrid attack in a flash: Rodrygo played the ball towards goal but Ederson got out well to smother the pass. The Bernabéu crowd respond.
Madrid instantly move into attack mode, of course. Just when you think that they're at their worst, they go for you.
And another shot for Haaland!
A ball to the back post is met by the Norwegian that is saved.
Madrid can't get out of the first 20 yards of the pitch: Haaland recovers the ball and fires a low shot towards Courtois that the Belgian stops with ease. Squeaky bum time for Los Blancos.
Haaland goes to ground in the box, and he wants a penalty from it. The ball was played over the top into the six-yard box and was nudged by Carvajal, but it wasn't enough to knock over the monster boy.
Rodri hit a daisy cutter shot from the edge of the box that Courtois managed to stop with his fingertips. Corner to City, who are on top.
ANOTHER HUGE SAVE FROM COURTOIS
So far, Real Madrid are being allowed the ball in defence, but as soon as they try to move away from their own goal, the City press suffocates them. As of yet, they don't have any solutions.
Kroos, Valverde and Modric are sticking together in the middle of the pitch, trying their best to squeeze the zone that De Bruyne might be hiding inside.
De Bruyne was fed the ball on the edge of the box and hit a low shot that curled towards the post. It looked dangerous to the average layman but I'm sure it didn't even tickle the gloves of Courtois.
BIG SAVE FROM COURTOIS
And of course, just as I type that, Madrid put together a string of 15 perfect passes from left to right, ending with a delightful lobbed pass towards Carvajal on the right. Guardiola stands up in response. The nerves are on show from both sides.
Madrid can't keep hold of the ball at the moment: Camavinga manages to recover from Walker down his side but the pass to Vinicius is poor and City keep their possession ticking up in the early stages.
Kroos blocks Gundogan's shot from the edge of the box as City have their first spell of sustained possession, pinning Madrid into their own box.
Oof. Madrid break after City get into the home side's box and Vini Jr burns past his marker before finding Benzema in the middle of the pitch, but his touch is loose and Dias clears.
Every pass and every challenge is either being met with cheers or boos, depending on the team. So far, it's loss and loss of possession as both teams try to feel each other out.
Grealish is in pain as well. Didn't think I'd be using that card so early on...
Rodrygo looks to be in some pain from the challenge... one to keep an eye on, perhaps.
City are pressing Madrid in a 4-4-2 with Haaland and De Bruyne up front.
A long ball from City towards Haaland to start; Madrid break and Grealish gets pulled back for a foul on Rodrygo.
And we're off!
City kick us off from right to left.
Serious faces all round as the Champions League anthem plays
All except one. Haaland has a huge grin on his face as he listens to the music. He's thinking about goals.
The players are out of the tunnel!
We're just minutes away from kick-off!
'The King and his Cup'
The Madrid fans' tifo was huge and definitely reminded the away fans that they are about to play in what many call Real Madrid's competition. To be fair, they have won it 14 times.
The Real Madrid anthem is ringing round an absolutely packed Santiago Bernabéu! What an amazing atmosphere!
A reminder of the starting XIs:
Real Madrid XI: Courtois; Carvajal, Rüdiger, Alaba, Camavinga; Valverde, Modric, Kroos; Rodrygo, Benzema, Vini Jr
Man City XI: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Akanji; Rodri, Gundogan; De Bruyne, Silva, Grealish; Haaland
The players are finishing their warmups and are about to head down the tunnel... to a humungous roar from the crowd!
Pep Guardiola pre-game:
We don’t need extra motivation, not anymore. We played well in both matches, but we’re not here for ‘revenge’. We’re simply here to try to reach the final, nothing else. If we persist, someday we’ll achieve it. Madrid know exactly what it takes in this competition.
Look, to win this competition, you have to beat the best teams. And Madrid are the best team in this competition. They’ve proven it in the last two decades. In the first leg last year, we played an exceptional match. And in the second leg, it wasn’t exceptional, but we played well. And it wasn’t enough! So, congratulations to Madrid... and here we are again.
Thibaut Courtois saved Real Madrid plenty last season
While he's perhaps not been in as headline-making form this season, he's still been a wall of security for Real Madrid this season. Even if the 'How to stop Haaland' plan doesn't work in Madrid's outfield team, City's striker still has to get past the Belgian.
We have got seismic battles all across the pitch tonight, but one of the most intriguing is that of the two strikers. Karim Benzema and Erling Haaland are two of the world's best forwards, and as such here's a wonderful head to head comparison between the tow players from Will.
The Bernabéu is filling up nicely
The fans are slowly moving inside the stadium after the fantastic welcome that they gave to the players as they arrived at the famous stadium. The flappy Champions League ball is already set to flap which means that we've not got long to go!
The City players have changed out of their electrician outfits
There we go, much better. Grealish and Mahrez have both been stroking the Bernabéu pitch as they inspected it, I'm not sure what they thought was going to happen.
Tactical question: Will Kroos play as a 6 tonight?
So, all things point to Toni playing as the defensive pivot in Carlo's XI, which is not something that has historically been a source of much success for Madrid.
Tonight he will have Kevin de Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundgogan all exchanges places around him like synchronised swimmers, so it will certainly be key for his teammates to make sure he is not isolated in front of the defence.
Before the starting XI was announced, the rumour mill spun out the possibility of Camavinga playing in midfield, so it might be up to the Frenchman to act as cover for his teammate. Surely Carlo has his reasoning, but it would take a backroom staff of Mystic Megs to get inside his skull to see what he's thinking.
The players have arrived!
We've got just over an hour to go and the two teams have arrived at the Santiago Bernabéu; Man City have made the trip dressed like they're coming to fix a web server at Google HQ.
The Manchester City players have just stepped out onto the pitch at a still-empty stadium. That's because the fans are all still partying outside.
An interesting selection of scarves available...
Who have we got here... Benzema, Juanito, Manchester City... nothing else interesting to see. If you don't understand any of the references, make sure to ask on your next trip to Madrid.
Who to watch: Vini Jr
Maybe Toni Kroos in the pivot position is a more pressing matter (we'll get to it), but the player to watch tonight is certainly going to be Vinicius Jr. Manchester City's season can be defined by the inclusion of Haaland, but also, on a slightly less obvious manner, on the lack of full-backs in their squad.
Zinchenko and Cancelo both left the club and as such, Guardiola was left with Kyle Walker who hasn't seen many minutes this season. Stones has played at right-back in various moments of different games but he has been pushed forward alongside Rodri in midfield.
As such, it will be interesting to see how Guardiola deals with Vinicius Jr, a player who has 22 goals and 21 assists so far this season. Will Walker be able to contain him?
City lineup announced!
Walker comes in for the injured Aké in defence:
Walker - Dias - Akanji
Stones - Rodrigo
Silva - Gundogan - De Bruyne - Grealish
I appreciate we've had more rule changes than anything else over the last few seasons from Mr Infantino, so it makes sense that there is still confusion.
But don't worry, you don't need to head out to your local Walmart to buy FIFA's hefty football bible, because we've got a slimmed-down skinny version for you. Here's what happens if the games in the Champions League ends in a draw, and what is the latest situation on the away goals rule.
How it went last time...
I know you all remember, but let's hear it again. Manchester City and Real Madrid punched the life out of each other at the Etihad Stadium in a game that finished 4-3 to the home side and while many came out of the ground thinking that the scoreline was the most important thing, Real Madrid remained alive in the tie.
And that is all they needed. Even when Mahrez struck late on to put city 2 goals up on aggregate, it wasn't enough, as Rodrygo's late-than-late double out of nowhere took the game to extra time before a Benzema penalty saw a surge in hotel cancellations across the French capital.
Madrid did it because they were alive, with just one percent, which was all they need in this competition: they are the football equivalent of an undying Terminator machine. It's a good thing for City then, that they bought themselves their own robotic killer.
A heavyweight battle on the touchline
There were some very unrepeatable words being said about City's manager outside the ground earlier on, but looking at his record, you have to admire Guardiola whatever team you support.
A total of 31 trophies is a staggering achievement and he even has the upper hand overall against Carlo, who is no slouch.
It's a gorgeous evening in Madrid...
And there were a few red faces in the centre of the city according to our AS journalists who were out in the field getting the thoughts of the fans.
The Manchester City social media manager has taken advantage of this to write '0% chance of rain', proving that there really is a first time for everything. Something tells me it won't be the same for the return leg.
Real Madrid's starting XI!
Carlo has gone full Carlo and announced his starting XI while the Manchester City fans are still partying in Plaza Mayor. No surprises from the Italian, though.
Carvajal - Rüdiger - Alaba - Camavinga
Kroos - Modric - Valverde
Rodrygo - Benzema - Vini Jr
If you have just joined us...
Welcome, welcome to the AS USA live coverage of the UEFA Champions League semi-final between Real Madrid and Manchester City.
It's Joe here to guide you through the laughter and tears at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. What a monster night of football we have got ahead of us.
We've got two tough-to-call semi-finals coming up this week, for my money. Two of Europe's biggest hitters will face off today and next Wednesday, while a Milan derby...is a Milan derby. That's tomorrow and Tuesday next week.
There's every chance that both ties could finish level after 180 minutes. What happens then? Are away goals still in play? Do they go straight to penalties?
So many questions. Here are the answers.
Today's the day
Real Madrid and the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu live for days like these. The Champions League makes Los Blancos come alive and against Manchester City we'll see the stadium at its noisiest.
The Bernabéu was already a bucket-list stadium before renovation started and we won't have too much longer to wait to see how it's going to look when it's finished.
We've got just two-and-a-half to go until kick-off! Here's a little reminder of who's in and who's out on both sides.
The good news - for us neutrals, at least - is that both teams will be almost at full strength for the game. However, there will be one important absentee on the Madrid side in particular.
We all think we know how good these two teams are, but what do those who watch them every week think?
Manchester City fans Andy (there are two of them) and Ed have given their thoughts to AS USA and agree that they are being spoiled at the Etihad at the moment.
“Oh, the team is unbelievable. If you go through the team, there is literally no bad player in the team, not one weak link.”
“We were a brilliant side in 2018. I’m not sure if this team is actually better, but now we can win games that we maybe don’t deserve to win.”
Does that last bit sound familiar, Real Madrid fans?
Real Madrid vs Manchester City: Vinicius vs Haaland
Did you see Real Madrid's Copa del Rey final victory over Osasuna? If not, go back and watch the first 30 minutes and let me know if you've ever seen a more devastating spell in any match from an attacking player. Vinícius 'The Magician' Júnior ran riot against the men from Pamplona and will be the man City need to stop.
What more can we say about Erling ' The Robot' Haaland that hasn't already been said? Over 50 goals in his debut season with the Sky Blues. Likewise, he'll be City's main threat at the Bernabéu; will the Real Madrid defence be able to cope?
If City don't make it through to their first ever final, they'll be blaming the fan we spoke to in the piece below for jinxing things. This next tale seems to be more consistent with the idea of tempting fate...
“We were 0-1 up and if Jack [Grealish] had that chance it right at the end we’d have been 0-2 up and the match would have been finished. When it went into injury time I was thinking about how to book my flights to Paris! And then, obviously, it all went wrong, so I was a bit gutted really.”
The lesson, City supporters, is to not even think about Istanbul (is that even where the final is being played?).
There's nothing like tempting fate, is there? City fans are in confident mood, which probably won't come as too much of a surprise to you given the run of form that they're on (15 wins and a draw in 16 games).
“It’s not difficult to predict”, one City fan said when asked by our Joe. “We are a better team than last year, [Real Madrid] are not a better team than last year. I’ve seen them play in Europe this season and they’ve been average, so 0-2 City, quite comfortable, and then 2-0 at home. I think 4-0 overall and I’ve already started planning my trip to Istanbul!”
Was that a Man City fan or was it Wayne Rooney...?
Will Courtois or Ederson be decisive?
As always with Europe's biggest hitters, the tendency is to focus on the attacking talent at the top end of the field. However, we can't forget about the men at the other end and Real Madrid and Manchester City have two of the very best.
Although Thibaut Courtois and Ederson have had the same number of clean sheets in the competition so far this season, the stats suggests that the Belgian has been rather busier than his counterpart.
What does that actually mean? His starring role in last year's final against Liverpool suggests that Madrid won't be too worried about that. That's what City are up against.
He's the man who's name has been hot on everyone's lips all season.
Real Madrid's Karim Benzema is the current Ballon d'Or holder, and why shouldn't he be, considering all he has achieved in the Spanish capital, especially in these last few years. But Manchester City fans are in no doubt about who the world's current best striker is. He's big, he's blond and he's broken records all over the place this season. Erling Haaland is their number one.
AS has been speaking to some City fans in the Spanish capital this morning and Geir, one Norwegian supporter, was gushing with praise for their number nine:
“He is the world’s best striker right now. No doubt about that. If he’s in the mood today he’s going to score three goals, sorry Madrid! He’s a big change [for Manchester City]. He’s scored 51 goals already this year, he’s amazing. He comes from a tiny village of about 3,000 people, it’s insane".
Will he score three goals in the Bernabéu? It's a tall ask...
Real fans preparing rousing Bernabéu welcome for team
As tends to be the case before big European nights, Real Madrid supporters are being urged to line the streets outside the Bernabéu two hours before kick-off, to give the players a big reception when the team bus arrives at the stadium.
Asked about how he plans to keep Erling Haaland at bay, Carlo Ancelotti told his press conference yesterday that Real Madrid have to focus on stopping Manchester City as a whole.
"He’s very dangerous," Ancelotti said. "He’s incredibly impressive when it comes to scoring goals, that’s obvious. Talking about Haaland means not just talking about one player, but also about a complete team that attacks and has lots of ideas...
"Our game plan isn’t just to stop Haaland, but rather to stop a team that seems unstoppable. But I think it’s possible for us. We can win."
Benzema vs Haaland
While Haaland has a frankly ridiculous 51 goals in 46 games this season, Real Madrid's Karim Benzema has knocked in three hat-tricks over the past month and a bit, to take his overall total to 29 in 38.
Benzema 'only' has four goals in the Champions League this term, but they have come in his last four appearances in the competition.
Our colleagues at SofaScore have put together a graphic comparing Haaland and Benzema's 2022/23 stats.
Could Haaland break single-season UCL goals record?
Clearly, the major difference between the City team of 12 months ago and the City team of today is the addition of striker Erling Haaland.
Since moving to Manchester last summer, Haaland has boshed in 51 goals in 46 games, including 12 in the Champions League. That not only makes the Norwegian the top scorer in Europe’s elite club competition this term; it also leaves him within range of Cristiano Ronaldo’s single-season record of 17, set during Madrid’s run to the title in 2013/14.
City are now “a more complete team” with Haaland in their ranks, Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti told reporters yesterday. “Last year they had a very dangerous forward in Gabriel Jesus, but he was very different to Haaland. Now, they can even play a long ball game. In many matches, that’s given them an advantage.”
(Photo: CARL RECINE/REUTERS)
Portugal's Artur Dias will be the match referee for today's Champions League semi-final clash.
"There are times you have to foul him": What's it like facing Vini?
In the Athletic, Guillermo Rai has put together this excellent piece on what it’s like to face Real Madrid’s Vinícius Júnior. Rai has spoken to several defenders who have first-hand experience of this task.
“My first thought is always to try to take the ball from him,” Real Sociedad’s Aritz Elustondo says, “but there are times when you have to foul him because depending on his speed and the distance from the goal, he can quickly create a goalscoring opportunity.”
Shakhtar Donetsk’s Yukhym Konoplya adds: “What surprised me the most was how he drives with the ball, he never seemed to lose it in difficult situations."
Phil Foden is confident that Manchester City can avenge last year's semi-final defeat to Real Madrid, and is relishing the opportunity to play at the Bernabéu again.
“I think [our chances are] strong," Foden said yesterday. "We’ve got to be positive. We’ve got to believe in ourselves,” said Foden. “We’ve obviously reached the final before, so we’ve proven that we can get to them stages and hopefully we can just keep going in the right direction.
“Even though we lost [last year], I love Madrid away. The atmosphere and to play in a special stadium like that."
Pep Guardiola claims that Manchester City aren't motivated by a desire for revenge on Real Madrid.
"We don’t need extra motivation, not anymore," Guardiola told reporters yesterday. "We played well in both matches [in last season's semi-finals], but we’re not here for ‘revenge’. We’re simply here to try to reach the final, nothing else."
Erling Haaland waves to fans as the Manchester City squad arrives in Madrid yesterday.
(Photo: DIARIO AS/JESUS ALVAREZ ORIHUELA)
The inclusion of Kyle Walker in place of Nathan Aké is one of six changes that Pep Guardiola is expected to make from Saturday's game.
Aké absent for City
As for Manchester City, they arrived in Madrid with no Nathan Aké, after the Dutchman limped out of the weekend Premier League win over Leeds. Aké is expected to be replaced in the City XI by Kyle Walker.
The Real Madrid players go through their paces at their Valdebebas training ground yesterday, ahead of their Champions League clash with Manchester City.
(Photo: JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)
The return of Modric and the absence of Militão are expected to be the only two changes to the Real Madrid side that beat Osasuna in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday.
Madrid without suspended Militão
Carlo Ancelotti has named a 22-man Real Madrid squad for today's first leg, with Éder Militão the most notable absentee. The Brazilian serves a one-match suspension for accumulated bookings, and is expected to be replaced in central defence by Antonio Rüdiger.
Ferland Mendy remains out injured, while Dani Ceballos is not fit to play but has been included in the squad anyway, apparently for his banter value.
From a Real Madrid point of view, the major team news is that midfielder Luka Modric is fit to start and, Carlo Ancelotti told reporters yesterday, will be in the line-up at the Bernabéu.
“Modric has no problems and when he is well, he can play, so tomorrow he will play," Ancelotti said.
My colleague Fidel Rubio has the full story on the Croat's return to the XI.
Madrid and City's UCL stats in 2022/23
Courtesy of our friends at SofaScore, here’s a look at Real Madrid and Manchester City’s Champions League stats so far this season.
Pep Guardiola’s men remain unbeaten in Europe in 2022/23, while Madrid have just the one blot on their copybook - a 3-2 group-stage defeat at RB Leipzig, albeit Carlo Ancelotti’s men had already booked their place in the knockout stages.
Today’s game will be the ninth competitive meeting between Madrid and City. As things stand, it’s even stevens: three wins each, and two draws.
If you're in the US and you're wondering where you can tune in to today's clash in Madrid, let me point you in the direction of this useful guide on how to watch.
You might - might - be aware that Real Madrid and Manchester City also met at this stage of the Champions League last year.
City must still be wondering how in the Colin Bell they didn’t reach the final. As they say in Spain, though, you have to kill Madrid twice.
My colleague Roddy Cons has taken a look back at Los Blancos’ sensational comeback 12 months ago - one of a collection of tremendous turnarounds on their way to winning their 14th European title.
Real Madrid vs Man City live build-up: welcome!
Good morning! The Champions League semi-finals are upon us, and by jove they are exceedingly appetising ties.
City rivals Milan and Inter kick off their last-four clash tomorrow, but until then we’re going to be focusing on the blockbuster match-up between Real Madrid and Manchester City, which gets underway at the Bernabéu today.
The first leg in the Spanish capital is scheduled for 3pm ET, so just about 12 hours’ time. Between now and then, we’ll endeavour to furnish you with everything (well, things) you need to know in the build-up.