At times, Real Madrid were completely outclassed by Manchester City in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals on Tuesday night at the Etihad. But none of the defensive miscommunications, spells out of possession, or masterful gameplanning from Pep Guardiola broke Real’s spirit in the end.
Los Blancos emerged from a first leg against an extremely organized, talented City side with just a 4-3 loss. Somehow, someway, they are in the tie and found three goals on the road, giving Madrid hope for a PSG-esque Remontada. And whereas they could not create anything in the first leg at the Parc des Princes, they have those three goals to build even more confidence for the second leg at the Bernabeu.
Here are five reasons why Real Madrid fans can believe in a Remontada in the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu vs. Manchester City on Wednesday, May 4.
Karim Benzema’s finishing
Karim Benzema isn’t just the clear favorite to win the Ballon d’Or. At this point, if Benz does not win the award, it may not as well exist. He is that far ahead of everyone else in terms of his overall ability on the pitch, his impact in big matches, and his importance to Madrid. Without Benz, Madrid would not be in the semifinals; he was the decisive player against both PSG and Chelsea with his back-to-back hat-tricks, followed by a second-leg winner vs. the Blues.
And on Tuesday night at the Etihad, Benz found the back of the net twice, erasing his penalty woes from the previous week in Pamplona with a cheeky Panenka. It was his whopping 12th goal of the campaign, matching Cristiano Ronaldo’s total in his nearly untouchable 2016/17 run – and just one away from his even more hallowed record of 10 knockout goals.
That is the level Benzema is reaching. We are talking about a legendary Champions League campaign. He is the biggest reason why Real Madrid have hope in the second leg with the deficit only at one goal. Because in just a few minutes, he turned the tide against PSG. History can easily repeat itself at the Bernabeu.