Jude Bellingham reveals secret to Real Madrid’s ‘massive reward’ of Champions League semi-final

The attacking midfielder scored in the penalty shootout win over Manchester City

Karl Matchett
Wednesday 17 April 2024 23:42 BST
(Getty Images)

Jude Bellingham praised the selflessness of his Real Madrid teammates and the work rate the squad put in during their Champions League quarter-final win over Manchester City.

Los Blancos progressed courtesy of a penalty shootout victory, after a hard-fought 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium resulted in a 4-4 aggregate draw.

Man City had most of the ball, the territory and the chances in the second leg, but had to come from behind to force extra time and spot-kicks after Rodrygo’s early strike for the visitors. That meant plenty of off-the-ball running for LaLiga’s finest, but they stuck to the task throughout and got their reward by edging the tie from 12 yards when they couldn’t be separated over 210 minutes.

And Bellingham, who scored his own spot-kick in the shootout, named Real’s endeavour and concentration as the biggest factors in ensuring they stayed in the game.

“It’s relief. You put so much into the game, I’ve played against City before when you’re close and you think you’re going to get something and then they snatch it away,” he said on TNT Sports. “I’m dead on my feet at the end of the game so it’s a massive reward. It’s so difficult to keep focus, they move you around and put you in positions you don’t want to be in. Most teams would fall apart when City get on top but we stood up really well and worked hard.

“You’ve got to see [the Real shirt] as a responsibility, not a pressure. You have to be willing to be under the scrutiny and spotlight. If you’re here it means you can handle it so trust the process.

“It’s incredible [to knock out the holders]. Today it’s come down to mentality, to running, to track [players]...you get that right and then the moments like the lads keeping their heads in penalties, it’s a mix of that.”

The run to the Champions League latter stages could yet cap an incredible debut campaign in Spain for the England international, with Real Madrid closing in on the domestic title too.

Signing for the club has more than lived up to expectations, he explained - with manager Carlo Ancelotti a big part of that.

Bellingham praised his boss for finding a way to fit so many great talents into the lineup and revealed he had a novel way of calming players down.

Ancelotti of Real Madrid (EPA)

“I could never dream of it, not just the goals but the feeling of playing for the club every day - the badge on your chest every day is amazing and hopefully there are more nights like this.

“We had some different roles tonight in the team but there are adjustments and sacrifices to your own game you have to make.

“Our biggest strength is [Ancelotti] finds a way to let the boys play with freedom. Other teams are structured with their patterns of play but we’re so off the cuff at times.

“I caught him yawning before the game and he said ‘you need to go and excite me’! That’s the calmness he brings.”

Real will now face Bayern Munich in the semi-finals but Bellingham says playing the Bavarians will not mean a change of tactic. “We’ve got nothing to be worried about with Bayern but we respect them and we’ll approach it the same as today,” he said.

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