Athletic

Champions League 2021-22: Man City, Liverpool in Strong Position to Reach Final

Manchester City and Liverpool won their respective first legs of the Champions League 2021–2022 semi-finals in the midst of this week. Before the second match, both English clubs have a significant edge over their Spanish opponents after winning the first leg. Man City and Liverpool will be able to reach the final if they can maintain their present form in their next Champions League games. If that happens, this year’s Champions League final will once again be an all-English affair.

Manchester City vs Real Madrid: 2022 Champions League Semi-Final Scenario

Manchester City were favourites to win the first leg of their semi-final encounter against Real Madrid, and they performed as such throughout the match. Man City had 60 percent of the ball possession, completing 613 passes compared to Real Madrid’s 416. This statistic reveals Real Madrid wanted to play counter-attacking football, whereas Manchester City preferred possession-based total football.

Kevin de Bruyne’s goal in the second minute gave the Citizens the lead for the first time in the game. Brazilian, Gabriel Jesus doubled the lead a few minutes later. Los Blancos cut the deficit in half in the 33rd minute, thanks to a goal by Karim Benzema. Phil Foden’s goal in the 53rd minute gave the hosts a two-goal lead, but it only lasted two minutes as Brazilian Vinicius Jr made it 3-2 in the 55th minute.

Manchester City kept attacking the opposition defense in the view of improving their lead, and Bernardo Silva did just that in the 74th minute with a stunning goal. Karim Benzema threw away the citizens lead with a magnificent Panenka penalty in the 88th minute. The match finished with a 4-3 victory for Manchester City.

With a one-goal advantage, Man City will play Real Madrid in the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu on Thursday, May 5. The aggregate goals will determine the winner. Considering both teams’ present strength and form, Manchester City will surely have the upper hand in this semi-final tie. If they qualify, the defending Premier League champions are likely to face an English opponent in back-to-back Champions League finals.

Liverpool vs Villarreal: Scenario for the Champions League 2021-2022 Semi-Final

The first leg of Liverpool’s semi-final match was played at Anfield against Villarreal. Liverpool are the most in-form team in Europe right now, and they dominated Villarreal in this encounter. Only one shot was made at the Liverpool goalpost by the visitors, whereas the hosts had 19 attempts.

More importantly, each side’s ball possession reflected the real scenario. Liverpool enjoyed 74% ball possession against Villarreal’s 26%. Furthermore, Liverpool completed 737 passes, whereas Villarreal only completed 272.

Pervis Estupinan scored an own goal in the 53rd minute to give Liverpool the lead. Sadio Mane made it 2-0 only two minutes later. After that, no goals were scored, but Liverpool’s performance demonstrated their actual ability as a team.

On the other hand, Villarreal’s major strategy was to concede fewer goals in order to make the second leg of the semi-final match more open. Villarreal’s prospect of making a strong comeback in the second leg are slim after witnessing Liverpool’s performance in the first leg.

Aftermath

Manchester City triumphed 4-3 over Real Madrid in a high-scoring contest in the first leg. According to the latest UEFA guidelines, away goal regulations are no longer in place. Therefore, Man City can be relaxed going into the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.

On the other hand, Liverpool’s 2-goal advantage in the first leg will help them execute their game plan against Villarreal at the El Madrigal in the second leg. Manchester City and Liverpool are two of Europe’s top clubs, therefore a tough battle is expected if they meet in the Champions League 2021–2022 final.

Source: United News of Bangladesh