Match of the Year: Manchester City vs. Real Madrid



Manchester City vs. Real Madrid will be one of if not the biggest game played in soccer this year—and this is taking into consideration that the UEFA Champions League Final, UEFA Nations League, and FIFA Women’s World Cup are still yet to be played.

This game will be incredible because we have the reigning 2022 UEFA Champions League winners, Real Madrid, looking to defend their title against what some consider to be the current best club in the world.

Now, at first glance, it would certainly appear that Manchester City is the better team. They have a solid defensive line and shine on the attacking side of the field—now more than ever thanks to the addition of Erling Haaland, especially when all-time midfielder Kevin De Bruyne can feed him passes with perfect accuracy. These two have created a very strong link this year that has been impressive to watch.

However, De Bruyne can also punish you with good finishing if you give him space. Last year, City was the favorite against Madrid in the semi-finals, but they failed to advance. In fact, City has always advanced fairly far into the tournament, but they have yet to lift the coveted trophy, which has given City the reputation that it can’t handle the pressure of big/meaningful games. This year is different, however, because they have Haaland, who only knows one thing: how to score. He broke the Premier League goal-scoring record with 35 goals, and he has scored 12 goals alongside 1 assist in 8 Champions League games. Five of his goals in the Champions League came from just one game. It’s self-evident that Haaland can score goals, and this just might be the key to City’s long-awaited success.

With City’s lineup, it is very tenable that they will dominate possession of the ball, and in turn they will hold a high line, but this leaves room for the devastating Madrid counterattack led by Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior.

Okay, so City looks better on paper, but they lack one thing: experience. Although Pep Guardiola, City’s manager, has won the Champions League twice, he has obviously never done it with City. On the contrary, Real Madrid has won the trophy a staggering 14 times. Their manager, Carlo Ancelotti, is the most decorated manager in Champions League history, with four victories in the finals. Some may also bring up Madrid’s lack of performance in the Spanish League as evidence for their inevitable defeat against City. It is true that they have suffered some humiliating defeats, such as losing 4-2 to Girona.

However, these simple statistics can’t undermine the fact that Madrid knows how to win the Champions League, and they do it over and over again. As many people say, “it’s in their blood.” So, despite their lacking performance in the Spanish League, they must be looked at in two different lights: European and domestic. Madrid’s inconsistencies on the domestic side of their play won’t determine how they will play when they meet City.

Madrid has an immense amount of talent all around the field. In the midfield, they have Toni Kroos, who has age and experience on his side, winning 4 Champions League titles with Madrid and 1 with FC Bayern Munich. Of course, we can’t talk about Madrid’s midfielders without mentioning Luka Modric, who has won 5 Champions League titles of his own with Madrid. Up top they have Benzema, Vinicius Junior, and Rodrygo, who tends to be overlooked. However, in last year’s game against City, he scored the two decisive goals in the last minutes of the game, which ultimately pushed Madrid into the finals. Even with this incredible Madrid squad, people still think it’s not a question of whether City will beat Madrid, but rather by how much. Retired player, Wayne Rooney, specifically said he expects City to blow Madrid away. The disrespect towards Madrid is absurd, and I promise that City will not be going for a walk in the park during this game. Madrid has the home field advantage and the experience, and for these reasons I’m saying that Madrid beats City 1-0.


Given that the game concluded in a 1-1 draw, I would say that my predictions were rather accurate. Madrid caught City holding a high line, and Vinicius made them pay with a marvelous goal in the 35th minute. As I mentioned, while De Bruyne can pass like no other midfielder, he can also finish when given the chance, and in the 66th minute he scored a fantastic equalizing goal to bring the score to 1-1.

On May 17th, these two teams will meet for their 2nd leg game, but this time City will have the home field. However, even with that advantage and City’s superior lineup, I still think Madrid’s attacking three will be too much for City. With their “Champions League DNA” flowing through their veins, Madrid will beat City 2-1 and once again advance to the finals.