The duo have struck up a mouth-watering understanding over the course of the season and represent the Blues’ best chance of emerging from a formidable clash with Los Blancos
Manchester City were never going to have an easy Champions League semi-final draw, but there is a reason why many fans identified Real Madrid as the most pliant opponent.
The Spanish giants simply offer up more chances than both Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid, and, with Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne in top form, the Blues can be confident of scoring. How promising it was, then, for both men to hit top form at Stamford Bridge 24 hours after Madrid were pulled out of the hat.
With De Bruyne in the side, City are a fearsome proposition on the counter-attack. He showed against Paris Saint-Germain over two legs that he can drive the Blues forward, even if he had sat out the previous impressive victories in Seville and Kiev.
In Aguero, City have one of the most clinical strikers in Europe. He admitted after missing a penalty against PSG in the week that he was having a bad run from the spot, but you wouldn’t have known it in west London as he sent Asmir Begovic the wrong way to seal a clinical hat-trick.
The two men have combined to great effect this season, despite both missing large parts of the season. In their time on the pitch together – in the Premier League and Champions League – they have scored 32 goals between them, set up 11 and created 117 chances.
It must be noted, however, that Cristiano Ronaldo himself has scored 47 goals, racked up 15 assists and created 68 chances in La Liga and the Champions League. But nobody ever said stopping Ronaldo (or Gareth Bale, or Karim Benzema, or James Rodriguez, or…) would be easy. The ‘BBC’ – Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale – have scored as many goals as Barcelona’s Messi-Suarez-Neymar trident, too.
It must also be pointed out that Madrid are yet to concede a single European goal at the Santiago Bernabeu this season. But with De Bruyne and Aguero, City will surely not be as wasteful as Wolfsburg on Tuesday and, particularly, Roma in the last 16.
Madrid were long linked with a move for Aguero, even before he made the move to Manchester. His form over the past five years has elevated him to the status of City hero, and on Saturday’s evidence he is as sharp as ever.
And if Los Blancos are in the market for a Galactico, De Bruyne must surely be on their radar in the future. The Belgian slipped through the cracks at Chelsea but he was brilliant over 18 months for Wolfsburg and has been City’s shining light since signing for £54 million last summer.
He did not get the opportunity to shine under Jose Mourinho – Manuel Pellegrini suggested on Friday that De Bruyne was not a big enough name at the time – but he rubbed his former employer’s nose in it on Saturday evening.
It was he who led the charge as City broke away and he played a key part in the first two goals.
Chelsea have had their problems but at long last City showed that they can find a ruthless streak in the Premier league, something they have struggled with for much of the season.
Nobody ever said facing Real Madrid would be easy, but City will get chances to score and, on this evidence, De Bruyne and Aguero will be able to take them. Roll on April 26!