Real Madrid secured a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final clash with Manchester City at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu on Tuesday night ahead of a second leg in England next Wednesday.
The game started with Pep Guardiola’s team on the front foot, but Vinícius Júnior hit back with a stunning strike from the edge of the box to give the home team the lead shortly before the half-time break.
In the second period, Kevin de Bruyne joined an elite group of only five players to score in multiple Champions League semi-finals, firing a low effort beyond Thibaut Courtois to level the tie.
Here are three stats that help us to understand what went down at the Bernabéu.
1: Vinícius Júnior’s first goal from outside the box in the Champions League
It seems hard to believe, but all 14 of Vinícius Júnior’s Champions League goals before this one were from inside the box. It adds to his two goals in LaLiga from outside the box this season, but came at an important moment for Real Madrid as the team’s only shot on target y until Karim Benzema’s 78th minute header. It was the first time that Real Madrid had scored with their only shot on target in a Champions League game since records began in 2003.
It was the team’s only attempt on goal in the first half, registering just 0.06 on the expected goals scale as Vinícius received the ball from Eduardo Camavinga and opened up to create space before firing a pinball rocket of a shot beyond Ederson. Despite some criticism of the goalkeeper, the expected goals on target, taking into account the position of the placement of the shot, came in at an impressive 0.20. With such power, it was always going to be a tough one for Ederson to deny.
It also meant that in 11 Champions League appearances this season, Vini has been involved in a goal in 10 of them. The 1-1 draw away against Shakhtar Donetsk remains the only fixture in the competition this season on which he has not provided either a goal or assist. He has not failed to be involved in a goal in consecutive Champions League matches since the group stages of 2021/22, over a year ago.
With his seventh goal of the season in the tournament, he has drawn level with Kylian Mbappé and is behind only Erling Haaland and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, with the Egyptian already out. The Norwegian’s 12 goals may mean a big ask, but for Vini to even be on the podium for goals scored is an impressive feat.
9, 5, 4: Eduardo Camavinga won more duels, more tackles and more fouls than any other player
One of the unexpected but equally excellent displays of the evening came from Frenchman Eduardo Camavinga. Playing in the left-back role once again, his influence on play was certainly more than that of a full-back in a normal game. In fact, he led the tie for duels won (nine), tackles won (five) and fouls won (four). It really was a complete performance from the man who also set up Vinícius’ goal for Real Madrid with an impressive progressive run from deep involving a neat link-up with Luka Modrić.
The combination that Camavinga is building with Vini down the left flank is becoming a huge part of Carlo Ancelotti’s strategy and it really is just the beginning for this pairing. Camavinga created two chances, Vini’s goal and another for the Brazilian in the second half which saw his shot blocked, and the full-back misplaced only six passes all night.
To be so decisive both in the offensive and defensive sides of the game reflects the crucial importance that Camavinga is developing in this team. Ferland Mendy may be sidelined by injury, but it seems a real stretch to imagine him earning his place back in the side ahead of Camavinga, who improves with each passing week. This was arguably one of his biggest tests yet, particularly up against Bernardo Silva, but he excelled once again.
22: Touches for Erling Haaland, less than any other starting player
The big threat that many Madridistas were terrified of before this game was that of Erling Haaland, the goalscorer terrorising Premier League defenders and leading the goalscoring rankings of the Champions League. However, he ended the game with only 22 touches, fewer than any other starting player and seven fewer than his own goalkeeper Ederson.
The three Real Madrid substitutes, Marco Asensio, Aurelién Tchouaméni and Nacho, played a combined 30 minutes and recorded more touches (26) between them than Haaland managed across 95 minutes of action.
Yet still, Pep Guardiola did not make a single substitution, becoming the first team not to do so since Manchester United in their 2007 semi-final against Milan. And perhaps with good reason. Despite only having 22 touches in total, Haaland recorded three shots, two of which were on target, and had the highest xG of any player at 0.30. It must be highlighted, though, that both of his efforts on target and 0.22 of his xG came in the space of 60 seconds between the 15th and 16th minutes.
After that point, Real Madrid nullified him well. Antonio Rüdiger and David Alaba’s excellent coordination, positioning and communication ensured that Manchester City could not find him. More of their chances came from wide areas and wingers cutting inside, or Kevin de Bruyne arriving from deep as he did for the goal, than through crosses into Haaland.