Five things to learn from Man City's stalemate with Real Madrid
Manchester City and Real Madrid fought out a goalless draw in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final, with everything now on the line for the second meeting at the Bernabeu next Wednesday.
Here, we pick out five things we learned from the Etihad Stadium encounter.
1. Joe Hart is one of the best around
David de Gea was deservedly named in the PFA Team of the Year, and the likes of Hugo Lloris and Kasper Schmeichel have been regularly praised, but England's number one has often been overlooked this term. That is unlikely after the first leg of this semi-final, though, as without him City's hopes would have been badly dented. Hart produced several key saves - none more impressive than denying Pepe from point-blank range late on.
2. Ronaldo's absence was telling
Relief was the overriding emotion when it became clear that Madrid's star turn was not fit to feature on his return to Manchester. The absence of Cristiano Ronaldo's pace, power and incision was keenly felt at the Etihad Stadium, where Zinedine Zidane's men were made to look decidedly ordinary for large portions. They improved markedly in the closing stages as City were made to sweat, but Ronaldo would have certainly fancied his chances on Tuesday night.
3. Fernando and Fernandinho works
Yaya Toure's injury worries have seen Manuel Pellegrini almost stumble upon an effective midfield partnership. The Fernando-Fernandinho axis worked well in both legs of the quarter-final against Paris St Germain and was strong again on Tuesday. The Brazilian pair broke up the play from the outset, strangling the visitors' midfield for large chunks. Fernandinho was particularly impressive when attacking, splitting the Real Madrid defence with several passes.
4. City fans did their bit
City fans are not overly enamoured with the Champions League, thanks in no small part to their dislike of UEFA. Again the anthem for Europe's flagship club competition was booed, but, like against PSG, that appeared to gee up the home fans and helped kick City on. Vincent Kompany called for City's fans to roar them onto a first-leg victory - something the players were unable to do, but not for a lack of trying from the sell-out crowd.
5. Zinedine Zidane needs a new tailor
You know a Champions League semi-final is not the most enthralling when you begin talking about wardrobe malfunctions, but Zinedine Zidane's really was quite something. The Real Madrid coach was fortunate to be wearing a long coat after a large split appeared in his trousers - not only a bad look, but likely uncomfortable too given this was not the warmest evening in Manchester.