A draw at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night was enough to advance Real Madrid to the next stage of the UEFA Champions League. Madrid and German team Borussia Dortmund will move on to the elimination rounds, leaving both Manchester City and Ajax behind in their wake.
Browsing through the headlines, a couple things stand out. Most of the football world has their eyes turned to Chelsea, where Benitez has just been hired as the new coach. We've got some quotes of signature Mourinho sass (no surprise there), and a bunch of adjectives describing exactly how Real Madrid eliminated Manchester City. There's the signature "knocked", as well as "oust[ed]", "sent packing", and some described how Real Madrid "boot[ed]", "bounc[ed]" and even "dump[ed]" the English team from the tournament.
Most sports writers have seemed to almost unanimously agree that the most important thing about the match was Real Madrid's advancement and Manchester City's elimination, instead of addressing the refereeing or the red card or Madrid's explosive beginning. Which, I suppose, is completely warranted. It was just a job well done for Real Madrid.
"We struggled but we managed to get what we needed from the match and to qualify. I agree with the coach and the important thing was that we got through to the round of 16. We had a very tough group"
"You always like to win and we would like to have qualified with a win. But the most important thing is that we are through. Although it is true that we would like to have qualified as group winners. But we have to recognize that we have done what we set out to do"
"We were in the most difficult group and Dortmund are having a great Champions League campaign. A draw was enough for qualification. We worked hard, this will be a very tough competition and we are hopeful that we can have a good year. That is our aim. We are working to win the European Cup and we are hopeful that we can achieve it. That is our aim"
(Man, do I hope that that aim comes to fruition)
All players were understandably upset about the referee's decision and how it affected the match.
And now, to Coach Jose Mourinho (usually done first because his comments are either entertaining or insightful but hey why not change it up a little)
The Real Madrid coach praised his team for their diligence and their hard work. However, he did speak about the referee but never said anything outright for fear of another UEFA repercussion. Mourinho is also making headlines due to his new title of youngest coach to manage 100 matches in the Champions League.
Regarding the news emerging from Chelsea, Mourinho wished some good luck to Benitez.
The "Special One" was also quoted by the Telegraph as saying that if he was in a similar situation as Manchester City coach, he would have been sacked:
"I admire the fact that clubs support their manager. City is out of Champions League. But Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund are very good teams and we knew a big team would be out. If it was Real Madrid, the press wouldn't let me return to Madrid."
Do you agree with that evaluation? Respond with what you think in the comments below!