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Gabriel Jesus Brings City into the Quarter-Finals

Manchester City also won the second leg of the round of sixteen against Real Madrid 2-1 and benefited from two of their opponents’ blunders. In the absence of suspended Sergio Ramos, Varane made two fatal mistakes. Benzema’s interim equaliser was not enough for the Royal side, who were defensively too flawed and offensively too harmless.

City coach Pep Guardiola made two personnel changes compared to the last league match, the 5-0 win over Norwich: Fernandinho defended for Garcia, and Gündogan started in place of David Silva.

Real coach Zinedine Zidane had given some of the players a breather after the 2-2 at Leganes and now rotated back: regular goalkeeper Courtois was back between the posts, and Kroos and Modric also returned to the starting eleven. The offensive triumvirate consisted of Hazard, Benzema and, somewhat surprisingly, Rodrygo.

Both teams started with early pressing and prevented a controlled build-up game of the opponent already in the beginning. Both defensive lines, including the goalkeepers, were thus forced to take long liberating shots instead of flat passing. When Varane looked for a moment too long in his own penalty area in the ninth minute, Gabriel Jesus had already snatched the ball from him. After his cross-pass, the surprised Courtois was also taken out of play, Sterling only had to push in (9.).

City had the upper hand and tried to extend the lead but with no success. Only after 20 minutes did Real also take the offensive and came through Benzema (21) and Hazard (23) to the first dangerous opportunities. 

And the guests rewarded themselves for a good phase. Rodrygo freed himself from a pressure situation with a simple feint and came free to cross to the right of the baseline. Benzema rose up seven metres in front of the goal and headed the ball into the corner on the right to equalise (28.). The guests were back on the offensive thanks to their lead wolf, but had to survive two more scenes until the break: First Courtois fended off a shot from Joao Cancelo to the front and was lucky that the ball did not jump to a Citizen (37.), then Foden shot past on the right from 20 meters (42.). Seconds before half-time, Reals Keeper then wiped a De Bruyne corner from the line (45.+1).

After the break, City raised the tempo again: De Bruyne’s dream pass brought Sterling into play, who failed Courtois (47). The Belgian goalkeeper also gained the upper hand shortly afterwards against his compatriot De Bruyne, who tried again with a direct corner (48.). Real only rarely came to opportunities because City was mostly dominant and often one step faster than the Spaniards. But because the Skyblues left chances behind, Madrid remained in the game. Sterling (54.) and Gabriel Jesus (66.) failed Courtois, Benzema on the other side finished twice too imprecisely (63., 64.).

Real was still in the game – until Varane made another serious mistake: His header return, intended for Courtois, became a great opportunity for Gabriel Jesus, who came to the ball one step in front of the goalkeeper and spiked it past the goalkeeper into the empty goal (68.) Real’s reply failed to materialise, and Modric missed after Benzema’s cross (71.). As a result, Real could not think of much else to do, City played down the lead and could even have made it 3-1 through Gabriel Jesus (76) and substitute Bernardo Silva (72) and David Silva (86).

In the quarter-finals, City will play Olympique Lyon, who lost 2-1 to Juve but still managed to advance due to the away goal they scored.

Our tip for the game between City and Lyon is a 2-0 victory for Manchester City. What do you think? Get in on the action and make your prediction!

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