The Athletic FC: Real Madrid and a pivotal penalty moment; Bayern’s confusing Champions League

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The Athletic FC: Real Madrid and a pivotal penalty moment; Bayern’s confusing Champions League

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Hello! A day when standing still, like Real Madrid’s Andriy Lunin, is not going backwards. Coming up:

🖋️ Real Madrid’s night after penalty plan comes off

👀 Bayern Munich regain their marbles

😬 Arsenal and the sound of choking

🏆 FIFA’s Club World Cup: Who really wants it?

Lunin shines as City pay penalty

Something had to give.

Go back to the final five minutes of Manchester City’s defeat on penalties to Real Madrid last night and you’ll find both teams in walking mode. I’m talking completely spent.

A penalty shootout in the Champions League quarter-final second leg was the only means of pulling them apart — and that was Andriy Lunin’s cue to shine.

Lunin’s save from Bernardo Silva changed everything. City, whose dream of a ‘double treble’ was ended, had initial control of the shootout, but you could hear the Etihad’s bubble burst when Lunin gambled by staying still and second-guessing Bernardo going down the middle.

(Video for UK readers above, for those in U.S. below)

It’s possible Bernardo was affected by the ball getting lost in the crowd as he waited to shoot. He seemed to rush himself. But it’s not the first penalty he’s placed centrally, and Lunin was ready — helped by Kepa Arrizabalaga on the Real bench, who conceded like that to Silva in the 2019 League Cup final between City and Chelsea. Intuitively, he told Lunin to sit tight.

The swing in momentum reminded me of Andrea Pirlo’s brilliant Panenka penalty for Italy against England at Euro 2012. The impetus in that shootout turned in a flash too.

I’ve only seen a goalkeeper do what Lunin did once in the flesh, during an English League Cup tie involving Leeds United in 2016. The ‘keeper, Marco Silvestri, said afterwards that standing for a penalty is a serious mental test — because the impulse to dive left or right (and the risk of looking stupid) is so intense.

Speaking of guts, how about City ‘keeper Ederson taking their final penalty last night? It counted for nothing — but it was inch perfect.

We need to talk about Kevin

Kevin De Bruyne must have woken up this morning thinking about the huge chance he missed at 1-1. Turns out he’s human.

His goal was textbook KDB, though, and you never fail to be impressed by the way the Belgium international makes City tick.

There’s talk of him leaving for Saudi Arabia this summer. He’s 32, his contract at City is almost into its last 12 months and he and Pep Guardiola don’t seem quite as on-the-same-page as they once were.

But watch him mix it with the best of the best and you can’t help asking: is he really ready to step off this stage?

A Real shift of momentum in summer?

Carlo Ancelotti summed it up nicely — Real were made to suffer.

The Etihad was threatening to become a bit of a graveyard for them but defensively, their shape was fantastic under pressure. And in true Real style, they found a way.

This was the end of three Champions League meetings in three seasons between City and Real. Can we expect a fourth next year? And if we can, will the balance of power be quite the same?

Endrick is on his way to Madrid. So, we assume, is Kylian Mbappe. Nine times out of 10, City edge last night’s game. They were the better team, comfortably — but Real are going to get stronger from here.

Tuchel on way out… with a CL win?

It’s Real Madrid for Bayern Munich in the semi-finals so let’s not count chickens — but is history about to repeat itself for Thomas Tuchel?

Bayern could be the second club — after Chelsea — where Tuchel has done a poor job as manager but left the building with a Champions League winners’ medal.

They need a major reset in Munich, irrespective of last night’s victory over Arsenal. Joshua Kimmich, scorer of Bayern’s winner, is indicative of that: criticised by all and sundry, including Tuchel, despite his many years of good service.

Kimmich was pointed with his comments afterwards. “I’ve received very little backing,” he said.

Discord is never good for a club — yet here Bayern are, angling for another European title. Funny old game.

Are Arsenal out of ammunition?

Arsenal have had the week from hell. The Champions League gone, top spot in the Premier League relinquished, their self-assurance blown apart.

Mikel Arteta spoke about “fine margins” at full time, and the margins that matter for this Arsenal side are the ones stopping them landing major trophies.

They let the Premier League title slip away last season. There’s a real fear that it’s happening again.

FIFA’s new tournament missing top teams

The commercial success of UEFA’s Champions League is one reason FIFA is vastly expanding its own Club World Cup. A revamp of the tournament will see 32 clubs from across the globe contest it in the United States next summer. But there are problems.

The competition takes place straight after the European season, begging the question of whether coaches will take it seriously. It’s not clear how interested a TV audience will be. And FIFA’s qualifying metrics mean some big clubs will miss out.

In 2025, there will be no Barcelona, Liverpool, Manchester United or Arsenal. I’d ask who really wants the Club World Cup, if the answer wasn’t patently FIFA.

Around The Athletic FC

🇫🇷 INEOS is only a minority shareholder at Manchester United but it’s got full control of Nice in France. Nice’s season has been losing impetus ever since INEOS bought in at Old Trafford. Some people are asking if attention has wandered.

🇲🇽 That mad story we brought you about Tigres’ goalkeeper shining a laser pen at a Monterrey player? It’s only part of the technicolour of a banging Mexican derby.

🇩🇪 A Premier League winner at Liverpool but a pariah at Werder Bremen. Naby Keita has been suspended by Bremen until the end of the season. It’s very political.

Catch A Match

(Selected games, times in ET / UK)

🇮🇹 Atalanta vs Liverpool 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 (3pm / 8pm)

📺 Europa League quarter-final, second leg (agg 3-0). Paramount+, TNT Sports 1.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 West Ham United vs Bayer Leverkusen 🇩🇪 (3pm / 8pm)

📺 Europa League quarter-final, second leg (agg 0-2). Paramount+, TNT Sports 2.

(Top photo: Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)