Thursday, September 24, 2020

Prediction: Manchester City vs Real Madrid

Verdict: Both teams to score in the second-half

Best Odds: 13/8

Bookmaker: Unibet

Holding the advantage after their stunning comeback out in Spain prior to the break, Manchester City will be looking to finish off the job when they host Real Madrid on Friday night.

Manchester City

Starting with the hosts, while Manchester City were rightfully left frustrated to have come crashing out of the FA Cup at Wembley last month, the Sky Blues really enjoyed a free-scoring end to this year’s Premier League campaign. Last seen picking up a stunning 5-0 romp against an already-relegated Norwich on home soil, Pep Guardiola’s side won each of their last five top-flight appearances on the bounce and the confidence in their camp will be at a high ahead of Friday’s mouthwatering second-leg. Securing a famous turnaround in the Spanish capital prior to football’s enforced break and leaving with two crucial away goals, the former Barcelona boss has also seen his side enjoy a stunning purple patch in front of goal. Once again becoming the only side across Europe’s top-five leagues to break the 100-goal barrier this summer, City had scored a staggering 21 Premier League strikes on their five-match winning run. Seen as the leading contender to lift the Champions League title later this month, Guardiola will be calling on Raheem Sterling to lead their charge in midweek. Enjoying his best scoring campaign at the Etihad this year, the England international recorded 10 post-lockdown goals and also has five European goals to his name in this year’s tournament.

Team News

While Pep Guardiola might have hinted at a possible return for Sergio Aguero, the 32-year-old will miss Friday’s showdown at the Etihad due to a knee injury.

Elsewhere, confirming that young defender Eric Garcia wants to leave the club this summer, it looks like Fernandinho could be recalled in central defence alongside Aymeric Laporte.

Real Madrid

As for the visitors, while Real Madrid might have to pull off what would be a real shock turnaround this week, there is no doubt that the mood in Los Blancos’ camp will be at a real high. Really going from strength to strength since football made its return from the enforced break back in June, Zinedine Zidane’s men managed to reclaim their La Liga crown for the first time since 2018 and eventually held four-point buffer over their bitter rivals. Enjoying what has been by far their most fruitful run since the former French midfielder marked his return in the capital, Madrid managed to collect 31 points over their 11 matchups and also made a string of much-needed improvements on the road. Despite signing off this year’s extended campaign with a 2-2 draw at Leganes, they are unbeaten in their previous five domestic contests on the road, picking up 13 points and their brightest away run since opening 2020. While Raheem Sterling might have enjoyed quite the post-lockdown purple patch, the Spanish giants have their own leading marksman continuing to shine at the back end of the year. Only finish the 2019/2020 La Liga campaign behind Lionel Messi in the race for the Golden Boot, Karim Benzema has landed 26 goals across all competitions this season and also has four in his last four.

Team News

In a huge miss for Los Blancos on Friday night, defensive talisman and skipper Sergio Ramos will miss Madrid’s trip to Manchester after being shown a late red card in the first-leg.

Elsewhere, making his return to England this weekend, Eden Hazard looks set to join leading marksman Karim Benzema up top.

Key Factors to Consider

  • When the two sides faced off in the first-leg back in March, Manchester City came from behind to pick up a 2-1 win at the Bernabéu.
  • Raheem Sterling has scored 10 post-lockdown goals and also has five Champions League strikes to his name this year.
  • Real Madrid managed to mark their return from the enforced break by collecting 31 points over their final 11 La Liga contests.
  • Leading marksman Karim Benzema has recorded four goals in as many appearances.
  • Manchester City had scored a staggering 21 goals over their final five Premier League contests.

Conclusion

On paper, Friday’s second-leg at the Etihad should once again produce a dramatic encounter in Manchester. With the Sky Blues pulling off a stunning late comeback out in Madrid back in March, the now-former Premier League champions are enjoying a scintillating run of form in the final third. Including bagging over 4.5 strikes in three of their final five top-flight outings, Pep Guardiola’s men signed off the year with 21 goals on their five-match winning run. Along with Madrid making the trip out to Manchester this week filled with confidence after their title reclaim this summer, a high-flying Los Blancos also have their own leading marksman enjoying quite the purple patch. With Karim Benzema bagging four goals in as many appearances to sign off a stunning return from the enforced break, we’re backing another lively contest on Friday night.

Verdict: Both teams to score in the second-half

Best Odds: 13/8

Bookmaker: Unibet

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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