’11 Rudigers couldn’t stop them’
Madrid has bowed down in praise to Manchester City, their fans, Rodri, and even arch rival Pep Guardiola.
City made the second Champions League final in their history with an utterly dominant 4-0 win over Real Madrid at the Etihad. And with Inter Milan awaiting, the assumption is the trophy is already theirs.
Taking the semi-final 5-1 on aggregate, Pep Guardiola overcame a side that last season left him utterly humiliated, two goals to the good with only stoppage time to play.
This time, though, Madrid had nothing, and even the sports papers in the capital felt it was time to acknowledge the sheer superiority.
“City were a hurricane that would have swept away any team, even one with eleven [Antonio] Rudigers.” wrote Marca, who said the decision to leave him out didn’t even matter.
Two individuals were singled-out for praise, with Marca saying: “There is no better midfielder in the world right now than Rodri.”
While AS added: “[Thibaut] Courtois will appear in the report as the sole survivor of the disaster.”
The fans also earned much credit too, with their long wait for European glory finally coming to an end, they certainly played their part.
“One might think that being a team built with a chequebook, City have papier-mache fans,” Marca wrote. “It is not like this.
“The Etihad is a boiler that has nothing to envy to that of its Old Trafford neighbours. The difference is that all their lives they lost and now they win.
“The atmosphere was possibly the harshest Madrid had encountered in many years. A complete trap.
“The white flag will fly for a few days at half mast. There is nothing that annoys Madrid more than lending a drink that it considers to be its property. More if it does it with its arms down.”
The question then moved on to how to respond, with manager Carlo Ancelotti and City’s Erling Haaland key parts of the future.
Marca wrote: “The plan for 2024 is already drawn up with Endrick and a beast: [Kylian] Mbappe or Haaland.”
AS added: “It was such an embarrassment that this Vinicius with Ancelotti sums it up, very rarely do you see a player from this team scolding his coach.”
The victorious Guardiola was also lent some praise, but reminded of frequent comments that the Premier League is harder to win.
Holding a mirror up to those claims, Marca reminded the former Barcelona manager: “The Champions League is THE TOURNAMENT, the one that everyone wants to win, the one that can justify spending more than a billion euros in the last ten years.
“Guardiola is likely to change his speech from June 10, when he topples Inter in Istanbul. So, yes, he will value what Real Madrid has achieved and will not say that the Champions League is not always won by the best.
“This time the best is City, a great team without discussion.”
The feeling was the same at talkSPORT, with England legend Stuart Pearce saying: “It’s been one of the performances in Champions League history.
His fellow commentator Jim Proudfoot added: “I think this is the best Manchester City performance I’ve ever seen. One of the most scintillating exhibitions of attacking football you’ll ever see.”
Jason Cundy continued: “I am not sure I have seen a performance like that. It was like watching peak Barcelona.
“Jack Grealish came of age. Bernardo Silva was sublime. It was nothing short of sensational and it was almost a perfect performance.
“The scoreline flattered Real Madrid. This could be the best English side.”
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