Manchester City 4-0 Real Madrid (5-1 agg): Pep Guardiola’s squad is on the verge of winning the Champions League.
Even Pep Guardiola, football’s great perfectionist, would struggle to find fault with Manchester City’s night of utter domination in obliterating champions Real Madrid to reach the Champions League final.
Guardiola, of course, saw the odd defect when, in the second half, he went dramatically to his knees on the turf in his technical area, head gripped in hands, when City relinquished possession cheaply.
If you were looking for flaws in City’s magnificent 4-0 thumping of Real Madrid, that might have been it. This was truly one-of-a-kind.
If anyone had any concerns about the quality of Guardiola’s team, they might have been dispelled by an otherworldly performance, particularly in the first half, when Real were reduced to the level of a lower league club clinging on in a cup tie.
And that greatness can be officially bestowed on both the squad and the manager if they successfully replicate Manchester United’s flawless Treble of 1999, winning the Champions League, Premier League, and FA Cup.
City will be overwhelming favorites to defeat Inter Milan in the Champions League final on June 10th in Istanbul. They meet United in the FA Cup final at Wembley a week earlier, and victory over Chelsea at home on Sunday will secure their fifth Premier League title in six years.
Indeed, it would be more surprising if they did not win the Treble than if they did, however United’s desire to retain a piece of history would give fuel and adrenalin for Erik ten Hag’s players at Wembley.
This was a landmark night and performance for a City side that has found numerous ways to exit the Champions League under Guardiola, with the competition increasingly being considered, fairly or not, as the prism through which the Catalan’s time in charge will be viewed.
Real were simply dismantled, with greats such as Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, and Karim Benzema appearing dazed in the moments after City took a two-goal lead, and the famously unflappable coach Carlo Ancelotti looking defeated and at a loss as he was locked in conversation with Vinicius Junior on the touchline.
Guardiola said that the agony of last season’s semi-final loss to Real Madrid served as inspiration for this victory, with City nearly reaching the final before succumbing to two stoppage time goals at the Bernabeu.
And, of course, there was the 2021 Champions League final loss to Chelsea, in which Guardiola’s unexpected team selection was viewed as a major part in the events unfolding in Porto.
There are no such issues here.
City played with the confidence of a squad on a mission, with Guardiola remarking, “I had a feeling in these last days we had the right mix of calm and tension.” The team was clearly prepared to execute at this level.”