Real Madrid paid Manchester City the ultimate compliment at the Etihad

Although Real Madrid eliminated Manchester City from the UEFA Champions League at the quarter-final stage, the way Carlo Ancelotti’s side was set up paid the world champions the ultimate compliment. The La Liga giants knew if they went head to head with Pep Guardiola’s side, they would likely come out second best in an entertaining affair. Instead, they came to the Etihad with a game plan of not being blown away. By doing so, it was a compliment to Manchester City and shows just how strong they have become.

In previous seasons, Real Madrid have gone at City at the Etihad. The past two meetings before last night at the home of the world champions have finished 4-3 and 4-nil in City’s favour. Heading into last night’s game, Carlo Ancelotti knew that the game couldn’t be played in that manner if his side were to progress past the European champions.

Instead, Real Madrid sat deep and played on the counter. It gave them the lead in the 12th-minute through Rodrygo. Their tactics frustrated Manchester City until Kevin De Bruyne’s equaliser in the second half. It also kept the La Liga giants in the game as City pressed for a winner. Carlo Ancelotti’s tactics paid off as his team eliminated Manchester City from the Champions League with a 4-3 penalty shootout win.

READ MORE: Manchester City did all they could to beat Real Madrid, but it wasn’t to be.

It was the ultimate compliment paid to Manchester City that the mighty Real Madrid played in that manner. To see the King’s of European football play in such a way speaks volumes of City’s standing in the game. Pep Guardiola’s side has become one of the top sides in European football, and it took a slice of bad luck and a determined defensive performance to eliminate City from this season’s Champions League.

Speaking post-game Carlo Ancelotti explained that the way his team set up was the only way for his team to beat Manchester City at the Etihad. The Real Madrid manager told the media: “We started well, got ahead, and then started to defend, to suffer to qualify. We thought of playing differently, but when we got ahead, we lowered the block too much, and City had more control. They always have that. Madrid has done this many times. It’s this badge. We were convinced we would qualify. I really like it when a team sacrifices and fights. Here, you could only win this way.

Ancelotti further explained: “We took advantage of the opportunity we had. We tried to start the game strong, not like last year, to have more pressure. It turned out well for us because we scored early. And then the plan was to defend, to fight, and to sacrifice. For me, it was the only way to get out of this tie alive.

It was the ultimate compliment to Manchester City to see Real Madrid sit back at the Etihad. While it was ultimately successful for Carlo Ancelotti’s side, it showed just how highly regarded Pep Guardiola’s side is in European football.

Tags Carlo Ancelotti Etihad Stadium Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City Pep Guardiola Real Madrid Rodrygo UEFA Champions League UEFA Champions League quarter-final