The Santiago Bernabéu hosted the first leg of one of the most expected matches on the round of sixteen, and both coaches surprised with their starting line-up. On Zidane´s side, the French betted for Isco in the middle, forming a four-man line in the midfield, as well as Brazilian Vinícius on top, leaving Kroos and Bale on the bench. On the other hand, Pep Guardiola, who has lots of super star players to choose from, dispensed with Sterling, who was returning from an injury, but ended up being the key on the comeback; Agüero, Silva and Fernandinho, who substituted Laporte in the central defense as the first one got injured in the 30th minute.
This way, Madrid went out with four midfielders that made an effect on both the ball movement and pressure, as Zidane´s squad was able to manage passes between lines as well as holding Manchester City back from progressing on Madrid´s half. As a consequence, Guardiola´s team, based on a 4-3-3, was forced to send long balls in order to skip Madrid´s pressure as City were not confortable on the pitch.
However, the visiting team had the first clear chance after a great assists by Kevin De Bruyne, who had an outstanding performance, to leave Gabriel Jesus right in front of Courtois, but the Belgian made a good save. On the other side, Vinícius had a good opportunity after a header by Benzema, but the Brazilian was unable to finish.
There were not any goals until the second half, but the first one was marked by Madrid dominating the possession while City looked for counterattacks. Moreover, City´s weakest side on the left with Mendy as the full back was the target for Madrid to attack.
Second half had several and very different phases. Madrid took over the first one by controlling the ball, but City started growing into the game only after ten minutes, and they created a couple of chances through Mahrez. However, and just when City were doing their best, Vinícius stole a bad pass by Rodri and the Brazilian took it to assist Isco, who finished to put Madrid ahead. This goal gave fresh energy to Madrid and they took over again, but only for fifteen minutes, right before the last quarter of the match.
Manchester City found the equalizer when Madrid were going through their best moment thanks to a cross by De Bruyne that Gabriel Jesus headed into the net to put the 1-1 on a play that was very discussed by Madrid players as they claimed a fault on Ramos. And this time City made the most out of their momentum to turn it over and complete the comeback. Sterling, who checked in late in the game, changed it completely through an excellent dribble on Carvajal that ended up on a penalty kick by Madrid´s right back that De Bruyne, the Man of the Match, took to score City´s second.
But this was not the end for Madrid´s disaster in the last fifteen minutes, as Ramos was sent off and will miss out the second leg due to a push on Gabriel Jesus´s back when the central defender was the last man and the Brazilian was driving towards Courtois´s goal.
Manchester City get an excellent result on their visit to the Bernabéu and they will have a valuable advantage in the second leg, but if there is a team capable of coming this back that is Madrid. The answer in three weeks at the Etihad Stadium.