Note that Manchester City, the current table-toppers of the Premier League will face Real Madrid, the current table-toppers of the Spanish La Liga in the UEFA Champions League semi-final round. The first leg of the round is scheduled to take place later today, April 26, 2022, at the Etihad Stadium. The kick-off time is 20:00. While the second leg of the round will take place on May 4, 2022 in Madrid.
Ahead of the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-final match, Ilkay Gundogan who has been playing for Manchester City since July 1, 2016, after City paid Borussia Dortmund €27 million transfer fee, said City have a lot to worry about.
Gundogan noted that since Real Madrid knocked out star-studded Paris Saint Germain in the round of 16 and also knocked out the reigning champions of the competition, Chelsea, in the quarter-final round, the Spanish club must be a hard nut to crack.
The 31-year-old German footballer acknowledged how solid the Real Madrid team is and pointed out veterans like Karim Benzema, Luka Modric, and Toni Kroos as some of the stand-out players at the club. Ilkay Gundogan also acknowledged the fantastic form Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior has been enjoying especially in the 2021-2022 season.
“It’s definitely a real hit. Whoever gets the better of PSG and Chelsea is bound to be a tough nut to crack,” Ilkay Gundogan told Sport1 ahead of Manchester City vs Real Madrid UEFA Champions League semi-final clash.
“But we are aware of that anyway. It’s a brutal squad standing there on the pitch – Karim Benzema, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, who have all been performing consistently at an incredibly high level for what feels like an eternity, Vinicius Junior, who is playing very well, especially this season. I think we can expect a much more attacking game than against Atlético.”
Ilkay Gundogan sings the praises of Karim Benzema
After identifying four players in the squad of Real Madrid that Manchester City should be worried about, Ilkay Gundogan spent some time praising how wonderful Karim Benzema has been.
Gundogan said Benzema who has been a Real Madrid player since July 9, 2009, used to be overshadowed in the media by the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid between 2009 and 2018. But the exit of Ronaldo from Madrid has allowed the world to see how good the 34-year-old French striker has been.
Note that Benzema practically helped Real Madrid to scale through the UEFA Champions League round of 16, and quarter-final round this season. Recall that he scored three goals against PSG in the round of 16 and also scored four goals against Chelsea in the quarter-final round.
So far in the 2021-2022 UEFA Champions League campaign, Benzema has scored 12 goals in the competition and provided an assist in just 9 appearances. While in all competitions so far this season, the France international has scored 39 goals and provided 13 assists in 40 games for Real Madrid.
“For me, Benzema is currently the best striker in the world alongside Robert Lewandowski”, Ilkay Gundogan said. “He’s two-footed, strong in the air. I think he’s been underestimated too often in the past – and now he’s teaching his critics wrong.
“For a long time he was overshadowed by Cristiano Ronaldo, especially in the media, but now he’s getting the attention he deserves. He didn’t allow himself to be deterred, didn’t push himself to the fore, but let his achievements speak for themselves. Benzema definitely has what it takes to be a [Balon d’Or] footballer.”
Note that Ilkay Gundogan whose transfer market value is just €35 million, has played 38 games in all competitions for Manchester City. In those games, the 31-year-old German midfielder scored 8 goals and provided 6 assists. His contract with the Premier League club will expire on June 30, 2023.