While there are many players who played well last night, and we’d like to provide honourable mentions to Nacho, Fede Valverde, Casemiro, Dani Carvajal (and others), here are three players that we thought deserve special recognition on a magical night:
The comeback started even before Rodrygo changed the game. Thibaut Courtois made two huge saves on Joao Cancelo and Jack Grealish respectively to keep the aggregate deficit at two goals. (Of course, special shoutout to Ferland Mendy who also had a massive goal-line clearance.)
Those three defensive interventions, along with the Santiago Bernabeu urging the team on, kept the tie alive and fuelled the team’s belief in the ‘remontada’.
Courtois’s distribution was also good. He hit both of his wing-backs with precision passes under pressure, and also made the right pass out of the back to Eduardo Camavinga in the build-up to Real Madrid’s penalty in extra time.
It’s hard to put Rodrygo’s performance into words, because as impressive as it was on a sporting level, it was also superhuman and required courage and belief. His Champions League contributions this season have been urgently needed.
Rodrygo, apart from two great goals, also provided Real Madrid with something they didn’t have until he entered the field: A dribbling threat to attack Joao Cancelo and someone who could make off-ball runs into the final third and in the box where he picked City apart on both goals. My favourite non-goal sequence from him? In extra time, he picked Jack Grealish’s pocket deep, carried the ball up the field, split two defenders, and was brought down by Zinchenko.
In his time off the bench, Rodrygo had two interceptions, two tackles, and slung three shots to get his two goals.
Camavinga was the youngest player on the field last night, but looked like a seasoned veteran who was playing his 13th Champions League semi-final tie under pressure. His two-way energy, composed passing, tackling ability, and ball-carrying were much needed.
The Camavinga slide tackle where he wins the ball cleanly despite being a meter behind the ball is the defensive version of the Modric OOTB pass. So satisfying to watch. He snapped the ball away from Bernardo Silva last night like a king cobra and Silva had no idea what hit him— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) May 5, 2022
Camavinga’s game in numbers: four tackles, two clearances, 37 touches, and a hand both the first and third goals.