Bale: Real will end City's run
Man City could regret letting Real off, says Gary Lim
Pellegrini's men may rue failure to land knockout blow on depleted Real
SEMI-FINAL, 1ST LEG
MAN CITY 0
REAL MADRID 0
A depleted Real Madrid arrived at the Etihad Stadium gift-wrapped, ripe for the picking.
But Manchester City blew a golden chance with a timid response, seemingly incapable of coping with the enormity of the occasion.
Instead, they gladly settled for a goalless draw in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Avoiding defeat cannot be seen as a consolation. The failure to seize the initiative may return to haunt them in the second leg next week.
This was the perfect opportunity for Manuel Pellegrini's men to inflict a massive blow on a vulnerable Real side shorn of several of their best players.
Coach Zinedine Zidane clearly missed his talisman.
Bothered by a thigh strain, Cristiano Ronaldo saw his involvement limited to the signing of autographs, despite Zidane's pre-match claim that he was "100 per cent fit".
Without the Portuguese forward who has accounted for 31 goals in 34 La Liga matches and 16 strikes in the 10 Champions League outings, Real's attack never got going.
Halfway through the match, the Citizens were handed another massive boost, when striker Karim Benzema was taken off at half-time following a recurrence of a knee injury which forced him off against Rayo Vallecano at the weekend.
Real's much-vaunted BBC trio was left with just Gareth Bale carrying the flag up front, alongside squad players Jese, who came on for Benzema, and Lucas Vazquez.
The brilliant James Rodriguez, plagued by injuries and having fallen out of favour with his coach this season, never left the bench.
This was as close to Real running on empty as one can probably expect to see.
As a result, City's back four of Vincent Kompany, Nicolas Otamendi, Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy had an easy outing.
The few times they lost sight of their markers, the ever-reliable Joe Hart was there to save the day.
But City should have done much more.
Seemingly conscious of their inferior European pedigree - they are in the Champions League semi-finals for the first time while Real have won the competition 10 times - they paid too much respect to the Spanish side.
But erring on the side of caution may carry a heavy price.
City playmaker David Silva, the club's top Premiership assist-maker with 11 and their most accomplished passer of the ball, limped off in the 40th minute.
The Spaniard is the lubricant that keeps the City attack running smoothly.
"David Silva has a hamstring injury and will not be fit in one week," said Pellegrini after the game, confirming their fans' worst fears.
Then there is the likelihood that Ronaldo will be back to face them in the return leg.
Real are a different beast altogether when the 31-year-old stands over the ball at a set-piece or goes on one of his mazy runs half the length of the pitch.
Zidane has already said that he is hopeful Ronaldo and Benzema can take part in next week's clash, and Ronaldo admitted that his omission yesterday morning was merely a precautionary measure.
City find themselves needing to pull off the job amid a cacophony at the Santiago Bernabeu, where more than 76,000 spectators are expected to back their team.
Raheem Sterling must be kicking himself for his poor first touch after Sergio Aguero had threaded a lovely ball to him to set up a fine scoring opportunity on the stroke of full time.
Kevin de Bruyne will rue the free-kick he sent too close to the Real goalkeeper two minutes into injury time, the only occasion City managed to get a shot on target.
And perhaps even Pellegrini will have mixed feelings over his rare display of pragmatism.
City were so content with the draw that they spent much of the final minutes of the match stroking the ball around near the halfway line.
Sure, by no means is this a bad result. In fact, skipper Kompany couldn't hide his delight.
He said: "It is hard to keep a clean sheet against such an attacking team.
"We can be proud of what we have achieved in this first leg."
I don't think they are favourites. We have the same option as Real Madrid. This team play away very similar to how we play at the Etihad. We are not afraid to go to the Bernabeu and we will see which team play better in that game.
— Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini
We hope that they can both be in the second leg. We have to take it day by day with both of them.
— Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane on Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema
But Real are a different beast altogether at the Bernabeu and City may rue not getting at least a goal on their own turf.
He makes his own Iron Man costumes
When it comes to expressing fandom, Mr Ian Toh believes in good ol' "do it yourself".
The 31-year-old has been a Marvel fan since the age of 10 and started collecting Marvel comic books as a child. His comic books now line the walls of his bedroom.
As an adult, he makes his own Iron Man costumes and armours.
Since his first DIY project in 2010, he has created more than 12 suits.
It began when Mr Toh came across a forum which had detailed instructions on how to make the suits.
He got in touch "with some people from the Philippines who have been doing it for years".
FANBOY: Mr Ian Toh has made more than 12 Iron Man suits since he made his first one in 2010. TNP PHOTO: TRACY LOW
They sent him an example set which he used as a guide for his first suit. That took him six months to complete, but he now takes less than a month to make one.
Mr Toh made headlines last year when Peyton Reed, the US director of the 2015 Marvel movie Ant-Man, praised an Ant-Man costume that Mr Toh had made for Zouk's Halloween party.
Reed called itthe best he had seen.
For Mr Toh, who runs an events company as well as local music school Thunder Rock School, Iron Man is his true love.
He said: "I really connected with Iron Man since I started my own business and saw how important it is to run a business with charm and courage."
Each suit he completes is a feather in his cap, said Mr Toh.
"Everyone started telling me that what I was doing was amazing, so I learnt ways to improve my suits better and I guess I never really stopped."
Enamoured with Iron Man armour
Captain America and Iron Man changed the lives of these fans
With superhero blockbuster Captain America: Civil War opening here today, we meet Captain America and Iron Man superfans whose lives were changed by these iconic characters
When young soldier Steve Rogers was deemed unfit for military service, he volunteered for a top-secret project that transformed the scrawny weakling into superhero Captain America.
While no Super-Soldier Serum injection was involved, Mr Gordan Tay was so inspired by Rogers, he took it upon himself to become his very own muscleman.
At 1.67m, he weighed his lightest at 40.8kg during his army days when he was 20 years old.
Now, the freelance personal trainer and administration executive weighs 70kg.
The 25-year-old told The New Paper: "I've been skinny my entire life.
"During national service, I was also going through a rough time as my family was facing some problems.
"I had a bad break-up and I tore my shoulder ligament. It felt like everything in my life was going wrong."
To cheer him up, one of his friends took him to 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger, the first Marvel film Mr Tay had ever watched.
He recalled: "I wasn't really looking forward to it because when I watched the cartoons, Captain America struck me as a funny character with two wings sticking out from his head."
Little did he know that the funny character would change his life.
"When the movie started, I was struck by it," he said. "It was so relatable because Rogers was skinny and he was being body-shamed, bullied and insulted, much like I've been my entire life.
"He also had an inferiority complex and a low self-esteem, which reminded me of myself then."
Mr Tay said he used to be bullied in secondary school. His bullies would hold him by the collar and press him against a wall. They also wrapped book straps around his neck.
During NS, his bunkmates would make fun of his every move.
He said: "I wanted to be just like Rogers when he stepped out of that body-transforming machine.
"There was so much going on in my head when I saw how he transformed and began to help people yet he remained humble and grounded. That really inspired me.
"I thought if I could change physically, I could achieve greater things."
Mr Tay's shoulder injury hindered him from changing his lifestyle immediately, so he started with changing his diet and moved on to exercising four months later after getting approval from his doctors.
"I bought 10kg dumbbells to work out in the bunk," he said.
"I didn't go to the gym because I was afraid people would taunt me or laugh at me, so I did push-ups while carrying my field pack filled with the dumbbells."
His efforts paid off. He emerged champion in his height and age category in the Singapore Fitness Model Search - PhysiqueWar 2015.
"Captain America is optimistic and this trait rubbed off on me. He is also morally upright and kind, which I hope to be," said Mr Tay.
In Captain America: Civil War, former allies Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) end up on opposing sides due to differing opinions.
Rogers believes superheroes should be allowed to work without regulation while Tony Stark supports government supervision.
Mr Tay, who is obviously on #TeamCap, concedes there will be "some kind of off-screen rivalry" among fans. "There will be those who would say, 'Iron Man is better because he's smarter and richer,' and I'd love to argue back.
"For me, Captain America is more handsome, fitter, bigger, kinder, more loyal to the girl he loves, and an excellent tactician in a fight.
"I will always tell Iron Man fans they are gold-diggers who like witty guys.
"But the banter will be just for fun."
"When the movie started, I was struck by it. Rogers was skinny and he was being body-shamed, bullied and insulted, much like I've been my entire life."
- Captain America fan Gordan Tay