Creative Soccer Culture

Framed #198: Real Madrid v Manchester City

How can anyone not love football? Well, Man City fans aside at this point. On the back of one of the most enthralling Champions League first leg encounters at the Etihad it was over to the Bernabeu for part two this week, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Fortunately we had our cameras there to make it the latest instalment in our ‘Framed’ series.

If you wrote a script about what happened on Wednesday, 4 May 2022 at the Santiago Bernabeu, it’d simply get dismissed for not being grounded enough; for being too Hollywood. Following the fireworks of the first leg the week prior, this one had big shoes to fill. And for 89 minutes or so, it really didn’t look like it was going to; Los Blancos in serious danger of bowing out of the competition that they have won a record 13 times with a whimper. No shots on target. 1-0 down on the night to a Riyad Mahrez strike, 5-3 on aggregate. It was looking bleak, and Manchester City, under Pep’s expert eye, were cruising. But for the length of Courtois's studs and an amazing goal line clearance from Ferland Mendy, it would've been all over. Find margins and Citizens likely checking flight and hotel prices for Paris on 28 May.

But then Real Madrid channelled their inner Manchester United circa ’99, drawing on a spirit that's made them the most successful club in the history of this competition; that defines the winning mentality that’s at the heart of the club. Rodrygo – a man deemed unworthy of a starting spot on the night – came off the bench to turn the game on its head in the space of two insane minutes, writing his name into the history books. 

Two goals, City stunned, the Bernabeu bouncing, extra time looming. Then Benzema stepped up for his telling cameo on a night when he had otherwise been uncharacteristically quiet, slotting cooly home from the spot.

And that was all she wrote.

From the brink of a mouthwatering clash with Premier League rivals Liverpool, City found themselves crushed, their dreams of Champions League glory in tatters. Another year of disappointment and of so near, yet so far. No doubt there will be analysis and inquisitions, but sometimes it’s just football. So unpredictable and yet so entertaining. 

All we can say is roll on 28 May. City fans, you're excused from watching.

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Photography by Jordan Bajo for SocccerBible. 

Daniel Jones

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