City’s Champions League semi-final first leg meeting with Real Madrid may have drawn a blank on the goals front, but it’s generated plenty of column inches.
No surprises there, of course, and reaction has been mixed so let’s start with the Daily Star. Jeremy Cross focuses on Vincent Kompany’s performance and gives a glowing report.
“When he is fit, focused and at the top of his game, there are few better centre-backs in world football. Last night at the Etihad, where the stakes were higher than they’ve ever been before, Kompany stood out like a colossus.
“The fact Zinedine Zidane’s free-scoring side drew a rare blank was mainly down to Kompany and his immense influence on those around him.
“Alongside was Nicolas Otamendi, whose own game went up several notches just because his skipper was there to guide him through the challenge of stopping Real.”
But elsewhere the sense of City being comfortable in such experienced European company is matched by predictions that next week will be much tougher.
“City will take the positives from denying Real an away goal but England's last remaining representatives in Europe's elite competition still face a huge task if they are to reach the final, in Milan on 28 May,” says BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
“Their failure to score at home means former Real boss Manuel Pellegrini does not have a lead to take back to the Bernabeu, where Zinedine Zidane's side have not conceded a goal in the Champions League all season.”
Nick Wright at Sky Sports.com also liked what he saw from the Blues’ central defensive pairing but is sceptical of our chances in the Spanish capital
“City can, at least, take encouragement from the disciplined defensive performance that ensured Madrid left Manchester without an away goal. Hart will take most of the plaudits for his heroics, but they were also boosted by the reunion of their first-choice centre-back pairing.
“Otamendi led the way for tackles (five) and interceptions (six), while skipper Vincent Kompany made a number of crucial interventions and ranked first for clearances (six).
“A repeat performance at the back would give them some hope of navigating next week's daunting trip to the Bernabeu. They will travel to Spain knowing they might have already missed their best shot at reaching the final.”
Not as impressed was the Telegraph’s Paul Hayward, who mused: “City still struggled more, not less, to exert control of a game that was falling way below its billing. There was hundreds of millions of pounds’ worth of talent on this pitch, but without Ronaldo the game lacked that spark of genius that raises the general level.
“Madrid were hardly clinical but they were moving the ball more fluently than City, who saw too little of it to keep up a regular supply to Iheanacho and Aguero.
“On came Sterling to fluff that chance as Ronaldo doubtless licked his chops and thought about what damage he will inflict in next week’s second-leg. Most of the big names on both sides need to do better than they did here. And you can bet they will."
There’s even a snippet of transfer talk, despite all the Champions League chat, and the Express claim that City are tracking Hannover 96 goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler.
The 27-year-old (above) “has reportedly caught the eye of Manchester City scouts seeking a long-term deputy to Joe Hart, with Pep Guardiola apparently ready to make an offer for the Germany international in the summer.”
As ever we’ll keep our eyes peeled for more of the same right here tomorrow!