UEFA Champions League action dominates the thinking of football fans in midweek, with the semi-finals of the continent’s most famous competition taking centre stage. Liverpool enjoy a 2-0 aggregate lead as they head to Villarreal for the second leg on Tuesday before Man City visit Spain and the home of this season’s champions Real Madrid.
The Cityzens claimed a narrow lead at the Etihad Stadium last week, but seven goals were scored that evening, meaning there’s plenty of life left in this tie. The Spaniards certainly won’t be ready to throw the towel in and concede defeat.
The two semi-finals are England vs Spain affairs, but it would come as no surprise to see the winner of the competition come from this match. If Man City or Real Madrid claim victory here and progress to this month’s final, they will kick off in that match as the strong favourites to lift the trophy. But which side will make it through?
Real Madrid are the home side and will be backed by a capacity crowd, but Man City have the aggregate lead and will be looking to protect that and sneak through to the final. There’s all to play for here.
The head to head stats associated with Real Madrid and Manchester City make for interesting reading, with the European big guns meeting seven times in the past. There’s little between the pair, with Man City currently boasting three wins against two for Real Madrid and a pair of draws.
Sticking with the stats and we note that both teams have scored at least one goal in each of the last three meetings, with a pair of 2-1 wins for Man City recorded in that time.
Madrid are home and hosed
Real Madrid are champions of La Liga, wrestling the title back from last season’s winner and bitter rivals Atletico Madrid. Blancos have been fantastic in all competitions this season and made light work of La Liga.
They are already well clear of the chasing pack and have amassed 81 points thanks to 25 wins and six draws against just three defeats, scoring 73 goals and conceding 29. Nearest rivals Barcelona are stuck on 66 points as they battle to finish as best of the rest. Fans would love to see them claim a La Liga and Champions League double.
The home team warmed up for this match with a stunning 4-0 victory at home over Espanyol on Saturday. That was a game the pundits made them strong picks to win, and Blancos had no trouble living up to the billing, breezing past their opponents, wrapping up three points and taking another step towards trophy day.
Rodrygo scored a double in that game, with the other goals coming from Asensio and Benzema. It was a real show of strength from the team, but more of the same is needed here if they are to make the final.
Real Madrid went to the Etihad Stadium last midweek, knowing anything but a heavy defeat would be a decent result. It had the potential to turn into a free-scoring match, and that’s exactly what happened in England, with the game producing seven goals and a 4-3 win for Man City. Goals from Junior and a Benzema double pushed the Cityzens close and ensured there’s still plenty to play for in the return leg. Madrid are up against it, but the tie remains live, and fans can’t ask any more.
Cityzens fast start
Man City exploded out of the blocks against Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium last week, stunning their opponents by scoring early. Pep Guardiola’s side started this competition as the favourites to lift the trophy and have looked strong since the group stages.
They are involved in a battle with Liverpool for the Premier League title, and that race is likely to go right down to the wire. The rivals could also meet in the final of the Champions League in another all English final. We are fast approaching a stunning finish to the season.
Man City stunned Real Madrid with two goals inside the opening 11 minutes, thanks to De Bruyne and Jesus. Armchair fans thought the match was over, and Man City would kick on from there and score more goals, killing the tie dead. That didn’t happen.
Real Madrid fought back thanks to Benzema, and the game swung back and forth in the second half, going 2-1, 3-1, 3-2, 4-2 and 4-3. Man City fully deserved their first-leg win, but this tie isn’t over, and with no away goal rule this season, the match hangs in the balance still.
The visitors played on Saturday when hammering lowly Leeds United at Elland Road in what some football fans had picked out as a potential banana skin tie. It was another all-action performance with the victors creating plenty of chances and scoring four goals, running their opponent’s ragged.
Rodri got the first goal on 13 minutes before Ake, Gabriel Jesus, and Fernandinho also found the net to wrap up the point while sending a message of intent to both Liverpool and Real Madrid. Will they defend their lead in Spain or go for broke and pick up where they left off?
Real Madrid v Man City prediction
Real Madrid are one of the strongest teams in world football when playing at home, so they won’t be put off by that first-leg lead. There’s just one goal in it at present, and Real Madrid are a team that don’t need to be encouraged to go on the attack.
Man City have two options here – protect their one-goal lead and hope to grind out a result in Spain or aim for more goals. If they score first here, as they did in Manchester, it would suck the enthusiasm out of their opponents.
Champions League odds
Real Madrid are priced at 3.28 for the win with Man City 2.03 and the draw trading at 3.9.
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