Real Madrid pursues the final comeback to Paris

Karim Benzema. / Javier Soriano (Afp)

Semifinals | Lap

Full of morale after fastening their 35th League title, the whites conspire to beat Manchester City in search of the 'fourteenth'

Oscar Bellot

In Paris, the myth of Real Madrid began to take shape in the ancient European Cup. Towards the French capital, 66 years later, the new League champion looks forward with the aim of continuing to carve out his legend in the modern Champions League. In the city of light and love rests the dream of the 'fourteenth'. To keep it alive, the whites need to overcome a formidable obstacle, but in a scenario that they handle like no one else.

A week ago, Manchester City had
against the ropes at the Etihad to a rival who completed a disconcerting defensive exercise, but who clung to his indestructible spirit so that the semifinal match was resolved in his fort without the need for a blow. For a squad that is used to changing the impossible into daily life, lifting a goal from a disadvantage is a horizon, a priori, assumable, even if a club is opposite whose infinite checkbook has allowed Pep Guardiola to manage a galaxy of almost unparalleled figures in the firmament.

On the eight previous occasions in which Real Madrid succumbed in the first leg of a semi-final of the continental competition, the Chamartín block was left without playing the final in their fetish tournament. It is, therefore, the last frontier that remains to be tamed by a team that has no more pages to stamp in its passport. But there is an element that invites us to think that this time the outcome may be different: the huge doses of morale that Ancelotti's pupils have accumulated in the two previous qualifiers, resolved on the edge of a knife.

defenestration of PSG in that last half hour of ecstasy at the Santiago Bernabéu commanded by Benzema and the
chelsea beheading in extra time after flirting with tragedy also in their temple they have breathed into the booth a faith in their bomb-proof options. Added to this is the burst of happiness caused by the
garter belt of last weekend, the best injection of energy possible to face a new appointment without a net in the heights.

Using that shot of adrenaline as a springboard to reach what would be the seventeenth final in its unparalleled history in the star club competition is the purpose of Real Madrid, which arrives in full swing at the lawsuit, although aware that it will have to play with its heart, but above all all with the head. The breath of its fans can be decisive if the emotional factor takes over the duel, but for the Santiago Bernabéu to come into combustion and unleash that flamboyant atmosphere that would put the maturity of the 'sky blue' team to the test, quality will have to emerge first and the competitive callus of a troop that is two games away from vindicating itself, once again, with a historic double, after feeling underestimated at various times during the season.

defensive challenge

To achieve this, it seems vital that Real Madrid recover the defensive rennet that they have lacked in the five previous disputes in the knockout phase, where the Whites have conceded 99 shots, at a rate of almost 20 per game. Ancelotti will have to try to stop this bleeding without Alaba, summoned but with no real chance of entering the eleven due to the contracture in the adductor of his right leg. However, the Italian recovers Casemiro, an essential element of his seatbelt whose loss due to suspension at the Etihad took a heavy toll on Real Madrid. From his words at a press conference it is clear that Valverde is ahead of Rodrygo to complete the offensive front, since the player from São Paulo is an excellent catalyst and the coach wants to keep an ace up his sleeve for the section in which tachycardias usually surface .

On the opposite side, Guardiola will try to work his magic at the Bernabéu, where he has collected six wins and two draws in his nine visits as coach, the only blemish on the Santpedor coach being the defeat inflicted on him by Ancelotti's Real Madrid in the first leg of the semifinals of the 2013-14 Champions League, when the Catalan was in charge of Bayern Munich and the Reggiolo player was preparing the assault on the 'tenth'.

The return of Joao Cancelo, who missed the match at the Etihad through suspension, is a relief for the City rector, who will be able to use the Portuguese as a Vinicius blotter. The entry of the Portuguese is emerging as the only variant with respect to the block that started in Manchester, after Guardiola dosed Zinchenko, De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Mahrez in last Saturday's home win against Leeds that keeps the 'citizens' setting the pace in their vibrant battle with Liverpool to win the Premier League.

Likely lineups:

  • Real Madrid:
    Courtois, Carvajal, Militao, Nacho, Mendy, Casemiro, Modric, Kroos, Valverde, Benzema and Vinicius.

  • Manchester City:
    Ederson, Joao Cancelo, Rúben Dias, Laporte, Zinchenko, Rodri, De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus and Foden.

  • Referee:
    Daniele Orsato (Italy).

  • Time:
    9:00 p.m.

  • Stadium:
    Santiago Bernabeu.

  • TV:
    Movistar Champions League.

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