20th November 2012
Premier League leaders Manchester City are still hoping they can continue their Champions League campaign, but the reality is their chances of progressing will be slim even if they beat Real. Los Blancos are five points clear of the Citizens but trail Borussia Dortmund by one, meaning they, too, aim to record a win at Etihad Stadium.
Despite being at the helm for almost three years, Roberto Mancini has utterly failed to build a system that would ensure Manchester City play the same regardless of the players at his disposal and opponents. The reality is that the Citizens still heavily rely on the players’ individual quality and they are paying the price for it in Europe. Even if they had been placed in what is a very difficult group, City couldn’t afford to pick up just two points from first four games, especially having played the weakest team in the group twice. While the Citizens are likely to be in confident mood after the 5-0 win over Villa that saw them climb to the Premier League summit, they clearly need to show a massive improvement if they want to beat one of the world’s best teams. Roberto Mancini is unlikely to make major changes to the side that hammered Villa, although Aleksandar Kolarov could come in if Gael Clichy fails to recover from injury.
Real Madrid may have endured a difficult start to the new season, but los Blancos have since rediscovered their form and had no problems returning to winning ways. While completely outclassing both Ajax and Manchester City, Jose Mourinho’s side did struggle against Borussia Dortmund away, but they were very unfortunate not to beat BVB at their Santiago Bernabeu, having dominated the game throughout. Before and after the 2-2 draw against the German champions, Real Madrid were pretty impressive on domestic stage, winning five straight La Liga fixtures, with the 5-1 triumph over Athletic Bilbao proving the team are on top of their game at the moment. The return of Sami Khedira is seen as another welcoming boost, but Gonzalo Higuain and Marcelo are not yet ready to return. Angel di Maria is expected to start after he was rested at the weekend.
Manchester City have displayed all their frailties on the European stage and the reality is the Citizens just don’t have what it takes to mix it up with the best European sides. Real Madrid are red-hot at the moment and they can be trusted to record a win that would see them edge closer to the first place in the group.
Verdict: Real Madrid Draw no bet
Best Odds: 2/3
Bookmaker: Stan James