Real Madrid’s 1-1 draw against Manchester City in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final tie saw two players in particular step up and deliver vital performances.
With Eder Militao suspended and David Alaba struggling for fitness, much of the responsibility fell on centre-back Antonio Rüdiger. The German defender has had an underwhelming first season in Madrid but rose to the occasion against City.
Rüdiger: The Tactical Defender
Tasked with marking the formidable Erling Haaland, Rüdiger contained the Norwegian striker as well as could be expected, restricting him to just three shots in the entire match.
Rüdiger’s performance was crucial for Real Madrid, who have lacked defensive solidity for much of the campaign. His reading of the game and well-timed interventions snuffed out several promising City attacks.
Rüdiger brings a wealth of experience at the highest level, having been a mainstay of Chelsea’s Champions League winning side last season.
His commanding display against Haaland and City will give Real Madrid fans hope that he can replicate his Stamford Bridge form in the Spanish capital.
The Flair of Camavinga
Further forward, the prodigious Eduardo Camavinga continues to exceed all expectations. Nominally a central midfielder, the 19-year-old has deputised at left-back for much of the season and has taken to the role with aplomb.
While his defensive positioning can still improve, Camavinga’s pace, dribbling ability and eye for a pass make him a threat from full-back.
He posted better numbers for tackles, passing accuracy and shot creation against City than statistical benchmarks for established wing-backs.
Camavinga caused City problems all night with his marauding runs from deep, helping to create Vinicius Junior’s opening goal.
However, he was also exposed at times, giving the ball away in a dangerous area to allow Kevin De Bruyne to equalise.
Camavinga’s talent and exuberance remain raw, but his performance highlighted why Zinedine Zidane has placed so much faith in the young Frenchman. Few players boast his combination of physical and technical gifts.
Real Madrid’s Defensive Heroes: Rüdiger and Camavinga
With a 1-1 scoreline, the semi-final remains in the balance ahead of the return leg at the Etihad Stadium. Rüdiger and Camavinga’s displays in Madrid will give Real hope that they can achieve a positive result against the Premier League champions. The duo have staked their claim to start the second leg as Real Madrid look to reach another Champions League final.