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Thriller in Madrid. Analysis of the UCL match between Real & City

Carlo Ancelotti exploited Manchester City's weak spot

Carlo Ancelotti, the master tactician, seized the opportunity presented by Kyle Walker's injury on the visitors' right flank. This forced the nominal central defender Manuel Akanji to come on for City. In a brilliant move, Ancelotti transformed Vinícius from a winger to a central forward, shifting Rodrigo to the left.

Vinícius's new role drew John Stones towards him, creating space for Rodrigo's sprints. The Brazilian played superb cutting passes into the channel between Akanji and Dias, exploiting the gap left by the not-so-fast Swiss defender. This tactical shift led to several dangerous moments for Real and a quick second goal, leaving Pep's boys reeling until the end of the first half.

Everything has its price

The price for Vinícius's unorthodox usage was paid in defense. Without the ball, the hosts shifted to a 4-4-2, placing a double burden on Eduardo Camavinga. In high pressure, he played directly against Mateo Kovačić. In a low block, he kept an eye on Phil Foden in the central area. Meanwhile, Vinícius, playing against John Stones, was supposed to monitor his involvement in attacks through the center. However, Vinícius often slacked off and gave the Englishman complete freedom of action. Stones received the ball deep in the opponent's midfield in one such attack, forcing poor Camavinga to abandon everything and rush to cover him. But this chain of events freed up Foden as Stones passed to him, and Phil scored a splendid goal from nine yards out.

Ancelotti reacted almost instantly: with a series of substitutions, he moved Vinícius back to his traditional position on the flank, and the more versatile Jude Bellingham took the center-forward spot.

Valverde and Guardiola exchanged pleasantries

Fede Valverde played as the right winger and was directly up against Joško Gvardiol. When the Croatian received the ball and started moving towards the center, the Uruguayan didn't believe he would shoot and didn't follow him. At that moment, Camavinga was watching Kovacic's involvement and couldn't adjust, giving Guardiola the time and space to execute his masterpiece.

But soon, Valverde exploited the opponent's positional error. Real attacked from the left flank, and Joško shifted towards the center to cover Brahim Díaz. Fede spotted the blind spot and darted into the space behind the defender. A deflected shot – 3:3 on the scoreboard and a 1:1 result in Valverde and Guardiola's personal duel.

Published by Patrick Jane