The dust has settled and the finalists are revealed. But what happened in the deciding legs of the Champions League semi-finals?
Firstly, Manchester City took on Paris Saint-Germain at the Etihad Stadium. The Cityzens were 2-1 to the good after a brilliant second-half showing in Paris. The goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez gave City the perfect platform for the crunch second leg tie.
The following night was the duel between Chelsea and Real Madrid. It was a tie deadlocked at 1-1, although The Blues held the advantage on the away goals rule and were much the better side in the first leg. A wonderful goal by Christian Pulisic gave Chelsea something to hold onto going into the Stamford Bridge shootout.
The second leg matches are complete. Here are the five takeaways from the Champions League semi-finals second-leg.
Champions League Semi-Finals: What Has Happened So Far?
Manchester City Deservingly Secure First Champions League Final
Manchester City will have a shot at European glory on Saturday, May 29. The team fully deserve their final berth after a magnificent showing of heart, courage, sheer pressure and ultimately, unity.
Once again, Mahrez was pivotal with two well-taken goals. The second goal was typical of City with a well-worked move from De Bruyne and a superb cross from Phil Foden, with the Algerian finishing off with aplomb. Foden shone again and the jewel of Manchester is a go-to player at just 20 years of age, while De Bruyne was magnificent again.
It was a happy birthday for Fernandinho who looked as assured and combative as ever at 36-years-old. City were strong in defence and silky in attack – a complete team in every sense of the word.
The Rock of Manchester in the Champions League Semi-Finals
The Manchester City defence were rock solid, defending in unity and blocking attempt after attempt. They successfully nullified Paris with the duo of John Stones and Ruben Dias once again showing a tremendous defensive shield. The pair playing together have kept 16 clean sheets in 24 games. But it was the Portuguese who stole the show and City’s main wall of defence. His spirit and courage to put his body on the line was heroic and evaded danger for his side time and time again. He is undoubtedly the signing of the season and potentially the final piece of the Champions League puzzle to go on and win it.
With the homework done, the club now have three weeks to rest players whilst keeping momentum going. It gives the likes of Sergio Aguero valuable game time ahead of the Istanbul final. Is it written in the stars for the Argentine to score another famous City winner?
The Stats Do Not Lie
Remarkably, City have only conceded four goals in 12 Champions League games this season. The Cityzens have won an impressive 11 of 12 games, with only one draw against Porto. City have made the final and Pep Guardiola is a final specialist. His record is imperious winning 14 of 15 finals that he has managed.
Paris were unable to mount any serious offence due to the will and solidity of City’s well-marshalled defence. The injury of Kylian Mbappe was evident as Paris struggled to carve out any real opportunities in attack. PSG had 14 shots overall, yet Ederson did not face one of them as the team did not have a single shot on target in the entire game. Paris were left nullified by City’s rearguard action by blocking every shot with their bodies on the line time and time again. The will of a champion.
Chelsea Power Past Real Madrid in Champions League Semi-Finals
Chelsea made it through to the showpiece final through a superior showing and were the worthy winner. The Blues were effective in their play, showed more aggression and had too much energy and vibrancy for a frail Real Madrid side. It was N’Golo Kante who dominated proceedings with a combative performance over the two ties. What a valuable player he continues to be.
His coach Thomas Tuchel celebrates his second consecutive final and is yet to taste defeat against Real Madrid with two wins and four draws throughout his career. Meanwhile, Madrid will be sick of the sight of Chelsea, having not won against them in five attempts with two draws and three defeats. Chelsea have notably improved under their German, manager keeping an impressive 18 clean sheets in his 24 matches.
Real Madrid the Weakest Link
Over both legs, Zinedine Zidane’s side have put a lot into the contest. However, it was apparent their lack of zest and zeal. Los Blancos were inferior, lacking in clear ideas and physically were left floundering by Chelsea’s youthful buoyancy.
Madrid were buoyed themselves with the return of their talismanic captain Sergio Ramos and former Chelsea star Edin Hazard, yet neither could make an impression and looked far off match sharpness. For many years, Real Madrid have battled against the odds to claim silverware. But this was the moment they showed their age. Therefore, they will have to rebuild from here on.
Saturday, May 29 is the defining day for Manchester City and Chelsea. A date with destiny and a final not to be missed.