3 tactical changes Real Madrid must make in second leg vs Manchester City

Real Madrid, Karim Benzema (Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Karim Benzema (Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images) /
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In what was arguably the best 90 minutes of football this season, Real Madrid lost the first leg of their Champions League Semi-Final tie against Manchester City at the Etihad stadium. A scoreline of 4-3 in favor of City does not narrate the whole story.

City came flying off the blocks and gave Real Madrid absolutely no room to breathe. Real Madrid on their part rode on the individual brilliance of Karim ‘the dream’ Benzema and Vinicius Jr. Pep Guardiola rues City’s missed chances at the end of the game. He is fully aware of the fact that you don’t ever give Real Madrid a second opportunity. If you have Real Madrid on tenterhooks you go for the kill. City’s inability to do just that ensures Real Madrid has all to play for going into the second leg of the Semi-final Clash next week at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Real Madrid should have Casemiro up to full fitness ahead of the second leg. We look at three tactical interventions Carlo Ancelotti must make for yet another comeback this season in the Champions League.

1. Do not even dare to play out from the back

Manchester City is an offensive juggernaut. Their press is so efficient and incessant that they do not allow the opposition a moment of a breather when they have the ball. Real Madrid has trouble by-passing such teams as was evident against Chelsea and PSG in the second legs of the respective ties and the first leg here. And City is a step above anyone else.

Even though Eder Miliato and Alaba are pretty good players with the ball at their feet and Courtois has improved significantly under pressure, Real Madrid must not even attempt to play out from the back. City is not a random La Liga team that would not bother putting pressure when you have the ball. City players demand the ball and hound the opposition in packs. For the first 10 minutes, Madrid’s defense was all at sea and could not find a way out of their half. The likes of Kroos and Modric were made to look like amateurs at times. It is never a good sight when both the veterans have to chase shadows.

It would be prudent for Real Madrid to play in a mid-block formation and pack the midfield. Yes playing on a counter does not live up to the standards of Real Madrid, especially at the Bernabeu. However, let us face the fact that Manchester City is a better team than us. We cannot defeat them at their game. They are too efficient. Carlo Ancelotti has to act smart and like previously play the team on a counter. Real Madrid has a special weapon in Vinicius Jr. He ended Fernandinho’s career with a dummy and an outrageous goal. He can do similar damage if allowed to run at City’s defense.

Players like Rodrygo and Fede Valverde are perfectly adept at running at the opposition and enter the box in a jiffy. Real Madrid has to utilize these weapons. Imagine Vini, Fede, and Rodrygo running full speed at City defense with Benzema waiting to pounce on the ball in the City box at a jam-packed Santiago Bernabeu. Well if recent history is any evidence City does not stand a chance.