CL hits and misses: Foden stars for City | Bayern ruthless

Foden shines again for Man City

Manchester City's Phil Foden celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the Champions League quarterfinal first leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, April 9, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Breton)
Phil Foden celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal against Real Madrid

After two of his three goals against Aston Villa came from outside of the penalty box less than a week ago, Phil Foden was at it again. This time, the stage was even bigger – away to Real Madrid in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

And with his team up against it too. As Pep Guardiola noted afterwards, it came during a phase of the game in which City were in danger of falling two goals behind. Things can get complicated quickly in the Bernabeu. Foden simplified it.

Giving him space 20 yards out from goal is no longer an option. Foden has now scored six goals from outside the area this season, more than any other Premier League player. Josko Gvardiol’s later strike was a bolt from the blue. Foden is making this look normal.

Stepping up at a time when Kevin De Bruyne had to drop to the bench due to illness felt significant too. The brilliant Belgian was instrumental against Crystal Palace on Saturday lunchtime but that display has been bookended by Foden’s excellence.

Player of the match against Villa, he claimed that award in Madrid too, outshining Jude Bellingham on his own turf. The outstanding player on the pitch and now the outstanding player in this magnificent Manchester City side. This is Foden’s time to shine.
Adam Bate

Haaland anonymous – but does it matter?


In a game where long range shooting came to the fore, Erling Haaland was a bystander during a glorious encounter at the Bernabeu. The striker had just one shot and his failure to find the net means he hasn’t scored in any of his three career appearances against Real Madrid – they’re now the opponent he’s played against most often in European competition without finding the net.

Haaland will always occupy the opposition – they can’t switch off with him around – but his lack of involvement in this game was quite staggering at times. He had just 20 touches of the ball, the fewest of any player that started the game and he made just two passes in the final third in his 94 minutes of action. It was the fewest he’s made in a game this season. Phil Foden made 17 and Bernardo Silva made 26, reinforcing the notion that the game passed Haaland by as others created the big moments for City.

But does his tendency to disappear into the background matter? Are they really a better team without him? That is the question we’ve been asking about Haaland since he signed – and whatever the answer is, the question isn’t going away.
Lewis Jones

Arsenal given a lesson by ruthless Bayern

Arsenal's Bukayo Saka reacts after a challenge from Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer (not pictured) during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final, first leg match at the Emirates Stadium, London. Picture date: Tuesday April 9, 2024.
Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka reacts after a challenge from Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer

Arsenal came into this tie having only conceded five goals in 13 games since the turn of the year. Their ascent to the top of the Premier League table has been built on sturdy defensive foundations.

It was unusual, then, to see the lapses that led to Bayern Munich’s equaliser play out in real time. David Raya came when he didn’t need to, Gabriel Magalhaes played a careless pass, and, from there, the visitors were ruthlessly efficient. Leroy Sane to Leon Goretzka. Goretzka to Serge Gnabry. Goal.

Arsenal had been in complete control before then. Gnabry’s effort was Bayern’s first shot on target. They scored from their second one too, Harry Kane converting from the spot after Leroy Sane had turned Jakub Kiwior and drawn a clumsy foul from William Saliba in the box.

“In the Champions League, you can’t give anything to the opponent,” said Arteta afterwards. “We have given them two goals today. When you have these situations, they are going to punish you and that is the biggest lesson. The margins are very small in this competition.”

Six-time winners Bayern knew precisely how to exploit those margins and Arteta felt their ruthlessness was a bigger factor than his side’s errors. “These errors happen,” he said. “Maybe they happen before and you don’t get punished. But this is the level.”

It is a level Arsenal are having to get used to. This is the club’s first campaign in the Champions League since 2017. It is their first Champions League quarter-final appearance since 2010. They are learning as they go. Whether they are learning fast enough to progress to the last four remains to be seen.
Nick Wright

Bayern display European pedigree to spoil Arsenal’s party

There is something about European pedigree which sets certain clubs like Bayern Munich apart.

Those few sides whose domestic seasons somehow become immaterial when the Champions League theme starts.

They were meant to roll over and let Arsenal through to the semi-finals, barely 72 hours on from an embarrassing defeat by Heidenheim in the Bundesliga.

Despite having little time to prepare for Tuesday’s trip to Arsenal beyond light recovery, Thomas Tuchel’s side held the Premier League leaders and might have won it late on.

Arsenal played a major part in their own downfall and defended poorly for both of Bayern’s goals, but the visitors showed a resolve which they have been lacking in the Bundesliga.

After Bukayo Saka’s early opener and in front of a raucous Emirates crowd, they had plenty of excuses to crumble.

But the muscle memory of lifting the Champions League trophy less than four years ago still remains.

Six of the 11 who started the 2020 final featured at the Emirates, and know as well as anyone left in the competition exactly what it takes to succeed.

The quality which still oozes through their line-up finally showed in spite of their domestic difficulties, as their mastery of two-legged knock-out football once again showed through.

Mikel Arteta acknowledged where Bayern had outsmarted his own side after the game. “The margins are very small in this competition,” he said.

“We cannot give anything to the opponent in the Champions League, we did that twice and they are going to punish us.”

His side are still learning that; only one of his starting line-up was an adult the last time Arsenal reached this stage of the Champions League.

Bayern know it well. And their plight is not unfamiliar. After all, the Champions League winners have also lifted their domestic trophy in only 28 of 68 editions of the competition to date.

And given how we have seen this one before, who would bet against them surprising Arsenal again at the Allianz Arena next week, and give star man Harry Kane one unlikely chance of lifting a trophy after all.
Ron Walker

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