Manchester City got out to an early 2-0 lead thanks to Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus, but Karim Benzema made it 2-1 at the half. The teams played even in the second half, with Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva scoring goals for City and Vini Jr. scoring for Real Madrid with Benzema adding a second goal via penalty kick.
The 13-time Champions League winners are looking to win the title for the first time since winning three in a row last decade. The club already holds the all-time record for Champions League titles, but a 14th title woulg give it twice as many wins as the second-winningest team, AC Milan.
Across the knockout stages of this competition Madrid have allowed the most xG, have the third worst xG difference, and the sixth worst xG difference per game. They also have Karim Benzema. He is this team writ large. Even when they are struggling, the world’s best player produces a moment of magic to turn the game. They relish games that get stretched and play like the apex version of Europe’s most successful team when there is chaos in the air. Last Tuesday the visitors had no answer for City’s sustained possession play but put Fernandinho in front of Vinicius Junior and they could find a devastating moment.
Pep Guardiola will be racking his brains in the pursuit of control. It is in such moments that he can be guilty of overcomplicating matters but on this occasion there does seem to be a simple solution ahead of him. Though Kyle Walker may be out for the season, his full back corps should be greatly strengthened by the return of Joao Cancelo from suspension in the first leg. There are few players quite as capable of keeping the City machine ticking along. Only Rodri and Aymeric Laporte receive more passes per 90 minutes than the Portuguese full back, those two and John Stones are also the only players to carry the ball further than Cancelo.
In La Liga play, Real Madrid has four games left but has already clinched the title, winning 25 of its 34 matches this season.
Predicted Real Madrid starting XI: Mendy, Alaba, Militao, Carvajal, Modric, Kroos, Valverde, Júnior, Benzema, Rodrygo; Courtois
It is no great surprise Moyes puts such a premium on set pieces. West Ham are devastating at them. Nine of their Premier League assists have come from dead balls, the most in the top flight along with Manchester City. They have four in the Europa League. No other team has scored more than two. It could be where they win the tie.
It might also be where they lose it. Eintracht Frankfurt are one of Germany’s better set piece teams with seven goals scored and it is notable that West Ham are not quite the same defensive force off dead balls that they are in offensive terms. Moyes’ side have now conceded 10 such goals in the Premier League this season, firmly in the middle of the pack, with four of them coming since the start of April. Not so coincidentally this has coincided with the period where the Hammers have been forced to chop and change their back line on the fly thanks to a myriad of injuries. Sunday’s brace were put down to West Ham sacrificing some height in their team selection but Arsenal’s second was a somewhat familiar goal for this team to concede.