Manchester City – Just when they thought it couldn’t get any worse, Newcastle United next…
Less than three weeks ago, Manchester City were dreaming of the treble.
Knocked out early in the League Cup, so facing the prospect of having to settle for only the trio of FA Cup, Champions League and Premier League winners.
Nineteen days ago, Manchester City lost out in their FA Cup semi-final to Liverpool.
Last night, Manchester City threw away the chance to meet Liverpool in the Champions League final, finding a way to lose to Real Madrid after dominating over two legs.
Now Manchester City face Newcastle United in three days time, knowing that dropping any points in any of their remaining four Premier League games, will almost certainly mean gifting the title to…Liverpool.
These two Champions League semi-final matches between Man City and Real Madrid have been great for the neutral and whilst last night took a bit longer to get going than the 4-3 game at the Etihad, the later stages were absolutely brilliant. Well, just so long as you aren’t Pep Guardiola or a Manchester City fan…
Guardiola hadn’t left anything to chance, with a weakened team Man City had hammered Leeds away 4-0 at the weekend, but last night saw Kyle Walker, Kevin de Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez replacing Nathan Ake, Ilkay Gundogan, Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish, as Pep went full strength when putting out this side against Real Madrid:
Ederson, Cancelo, Ruben Dias, Laporte, Walker, Rodri, Bernardo, De Bruyne, Foden, Mahrez, Jesus
With Manchester City appearing to be coasting to the final and Real Madrid not having a single effort on target, Mahrez then scored on 73 minutes, to put the visitors 1-0 up on the night and 5-3 on aggregate. The home side needing two goals just to take it to extra-time.
So much on top and with Real Madrid making desperate substitutions that simply appeared to make the situation worse, Pep Guardiola started making changes of his own, no doubt having Sunday against Newcastle United in mind.
Having taken off De Bruyne just before the Mahrez goal, the Manchester City boss then took off his other main attacking threats Jesus and Mahrez.
The clock hit 90 minutes and out of nowhere, Real Madrid sub Rodrygo suddenly equalises on the night, surely not…seconds later and the Brazilian gets his and Real’s second, extra time here we come!
Pep Guardiola and his players looking stunned, understandably.
No surprise then, that only five minutes into the extra half hour, Real Madrid won a penalty courtesy of Ruben Dias and Benzema predictably made no mistake.
Having taken off so many key attacking players, Manchester City struggled to threaten in the 30+ minutes of extra-time and it was Real Madrid into the final to face Liverpool.
Eddie Howe will have watched on with interest, as what looked for so long to be Manchester City coasting, turned into a gruelling 2+ hours of action and many players on both sides looking knackered by the very final whistle.
Liverpool play Tottenham at Anfield on Saturday night, knowing that a win will put them two points clear of Manchester City and pile the pressure further on Pep Guardiola. Especially as after that, the scousers face Villa, Southampton and Wolves, none of who have anything left to play for, plus all three in a poor run of form.
If you believe in the kind of probability where something has to happen eventually, then Newcastle United are the nightmare opponents for Manchester City. NUFC not having picked up a single point at the Etihad since 2006, twelve straight PL defeats in a row at Man City.
Little doubt that Pep Guardiola will throw everything now at this game on Sunday and any side he puts out will be very good, however, just maybe circumstances have now handed Newcastle United a glimmer of a chance to get some joy on the break and just maybe destroy the last remaining chance of a trophy for Manchester City, if Martin Dubravka and his defence are on top form.
To think a team as good as Manchester City, who have played so well for most of the season, could potentially end up with nothing.
Quite mad…and hilarious.
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