Was that it? One of the biggest games in the club’s history, and that’s all Manchester City could offer?
It was lovely for City to reach the Champions League semi-final. Next time, they might like to actually play in it.
The English team produced an appalling performance to surrender their first chance at becoming kings of Europe without even putting up a fight.
Both individually and collectively, City were well below the standard expected from a Champions League semi-finalist.
All over the pitch they surrendered space to Madrid far too easily, with one illuminating passage of play coming midway through the second half.
Pepe won a defensive header on the edge of his area, no City players were within ten yards to even challenge for the second ball and the home team immediately broke forward without challenge to nearly capitalise with devastating affect.
There was another illustrative sequence of action – or inaction – with three minutes remaining, when City had possession on the halfway line and casually strung together a slow sequence of sideways passes before Raheem Sterling gave away a throw-in.
Barcelona, Paris St Germain and Juventus fans must have been tearing their hair out as they witnessed City’s insipid bunch wandering aimlessly around the Bernabeu turf. Heck, even a mid-table Bundesliga team in Wolfsburg gave Madrid a much sterner test in the previous round.
As for Real, this game didn’t tell us much, other than providing confirmation that Gareth Bale is in his best form since joining the club, James Rodriguez is the opposite and Cristiano Ronaldo really does appear to be fit.
But in terms of telling us whether they are equipped to beat Atletico Madrid in the final, it’s hard to draw conclusion on this evidence as City simply didn’t test them.
Perhaps the most vivid illustration of the English team’s lack of impact came in the form of Yaya Toure, who has for so long been their talismanic figure but on this occasion might as well have not turned up.
Toure was wasteful in possession, offered no support to Sergio Aguero in attack, and was lazy in defence. We’ve seen that before, of course, but on this occasion he was given no opportunity to redeem himself as he was dragged off with half an hour remaining, his influence upon the game minimal at best.
As you watched City amble around, it made you wonder what their plan was. The selection of Jesus Navas and Kevin De Bruyne on the flanks suggested they were hoping to exploit Madrid’s narrow midfield trio and attempt to attack with width.
But that never came to fruition, with neither of the visiting wingers doing anything to trouble home full-backs Marcelo or Dani Carvajal all evening. Indeed, it was the other way around, with Carvajal having a hand in the only goal as he found Bale for the deflected cross which proved decisive.
Presiding over City’s mess, of course, was a man who will soon be leaving, and incoming boss Pep Guardiola will now be fully aware of how much work needs to be done when he arrives this summer to replace Manuel Pellegrini.
Guardiola will not tolerate a collective attitude like the one displayed by City last night. If his teams lose, they at least have to put up a fight and play with a coherent strategy – as his Bayern Munich team did the night before.
For much of this season, City have looked as though they’ve been coasting. That’s about to end.
Good luck Pep – on last night’s evidence, you’re going to need it.