Arguably the greatest 45-minute dissection by an English side in Europe

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Bernardo Silva of Manchester celebrates after scoring the team's first goal during the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg match between Manchester City FC and Real Madrid at Etihad Stadium on May 17, 2023 in Manchester, England – Getty Images / jan kruger

pep guardiola It was considered the best performance by his Manchester City team., Not just beating Real Madrid but playing 45 minutes and barely giving a kick to the Champions League holders.

Here's how he delivered perfection at the Etihad Stadium.


There was no way out for Madrid as Guardiola's players pressed them in their own area, forcing them into errors. It was a group effort that started with but also saw Jack Grealish, not known for his tracking backs, tackling his opponents when he did not have the ball. “They overwhelmed us very well,” said Real full-back Dani Carvajal.

Real Madrid's Brazilian forward Vinicius Junior (R) faces Manchester City's English defender Kyle Walker (L), Manchester City's Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne (2L) and Manchester City's Portuguese on May 17, 2023 in Manchester, North West England Midfielder Bernardo Silva during the UEFA Champions League second leg semi-final football match between Manchester City and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium in - Getty Images / Paul Ellis
Real Madrid's Brazilian forward Vinicius Junior (R) poses with Manchester City's English defender Kyle Walker (L), Manchester City's Belgian midfielder Kevin de Bruyne (2L) and Manchester City's Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva in the UEFA Champions League second match. Competed during the semi-final football match of the stage. Between Manchester City and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, North West England on May 17, 2023 – Getty Images / Paul Ellis

In the first leg, Real was able to play through the press thanks to the brilliance of , but this time all the roads were blocked and Real could not keep the ball. After 45 minutes, they had 28 percent possession – an incredible statistic for a star-studded team out to defend their trophy.

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innocent walker

Guardiola says Walker cannot play as a full-back And will no longer last in central midfield. But as an out-and-out defender, he is unmatched for pace. His display against Vinicius Junior, one of the most lethal forwards in Europe, was impeccable and the Brazilian was pinned back in his own half.

When Vinicius finally got to the ball, just after the half-hour mark, he had a yard on Walker, yet the England full-back managed to catch him and pinch the ball back without going to the ground. It was a memorable moment as the players high-fived each other after the final whistle at the Bernabeu. It was pure respect from both sides and Vinicius will have many more after this performance from Walker.

“I'm glad it looked comfortable from upstairs in the TV studio,” he told broadcasters afterwards. “Listen, it's tough. It's always going to be tough. I think emotions get the better of you sometimes. I'm a little ‘Phew, how's it going?'”

de bruin masterclass

Kevin De Bruyne's starting position was at inside right and that's where he did the most damage, From there he had a pass through to the far post which he executed for the opening goal, threading the ball through two other midfield geniuses in Modric and . This set Bernardo Silva up perfectly.

De Bruyne then moved throughout midfield, delivering balls into danger areas. There was even a surprise free-kick shot when everyone was expecting a cross. There was a quick corner which led to Thibaut Courtois making an incredible save to deny Haaland, who was hogging De Bruyne's vision and playmaker to find his team-mates' runs.

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crowd out

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola celebrates his first goal scored by Bernardo Silva - Reuters/Molly Darlington

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola celebrates his first goal scored by Bernardo Silva – Reuters/Molly Darlington

Dressed in his turtle-neck and blazer, Guardiola turned to the crowd and waved his arms around and asked for boos. It came to 0-0 when Rodri went close with a shot across the goal and the noise level soared. City fans could be accused of being quiet, but not on an evening like this.

They got in the mood by tackling Bernardo Riding and then got a little revenge on Kroos by sending him into the corner flag. Perhaps not a “reducer” but a series of tackles that showed the crowd that City fans were ready to fight for their place in the Champions League final.

Guardiola said, “I told him to think about whether he wanted to play Inter Milan in the final.” “If they really did, we would have won.” Carvajal was complaining about the poor treatment at the end of the first half as City were completely on top.

of load

City targeted Eduardo Camavinga, who was playing out of position at left back rather than in his preferred midfield role. They attacked his flank and Bernardo and De Bruyne outflanked him in that area.

But there were overloads in the midfield, especially with John Stones moving forward to add more numbers. Rodri had time to take a pass or shoot – he had the option of doing either on several occasions – while Ilkay Gundogan carried the ball forward, usually forward. Grealish went head-to-head against Carvajal, who did not know that the England forward mixed up the dribble and used his teammates with passes. His cross created a chance that Haaland should have scored from a few yards out.

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cool finish

It should not be underestimated how difficult Bernardo's finishing was when City finally had their chances. For the first goal, he needed something special to beat Courtois and glimpsed the Belgian keeper at the far post before turning his body and sending a finish into the near goal.

For the second goal, it was an excellent controlled header, lobbing over the last defender when it would have been easier to panic and go for power. “I'm pretty cool with my head,” he says with a laugh. “I'm short but I'm good with my head,” he said.

“My performance in the first leg in Madrid was not what I wanted and I wanted to try to make up for it because after the first game I was not feeling well at all. Today I had to do better for my team- For the guys, the fans and that's what I tried to do.”

Where does it rank?

Guardiola says it was his City team's best ever performance and it's hard to argue against that. One of the most emphatic Champions League victories was Liverpool's recent performance against when they won 4–0 in their memorable Anfield return.

AC Milan's win against Barcelona in the 1994 final is also regarded as one of the best, while Manchester United's 7–1 win against Roma was another great performance by a British team.

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