Prediction: Real Madrid to Win 3-2
Pep Guardiola continues his pursuit of a first UEFA Champions League crown since 2011 as he takes his Manchester City side to the Santiago Bernabeu to take on Real Madrid.
The Spaniard has not yet managed to win the competition since his days with Barcelona and will hope to earn a positive first-leg win in Madrid.
It was a relatively solid campaign for Real Madrid and Zinedine Zidane in the group stages. Los Blancos qualified in second position behind French giants Paris Saint Germain having only lost one out of their six matches and that came in their opening match against PSG. That means that Real have progressed to the knockout stages of the competition for the 22nd consecutive season. Despite that, the 13-time winners do not come into the clash with Manchester City in the best of form. Zidane’s men have only managed to win one out of their last four matches in all competitions including their 1-0 defeat to Levante last time out. They have also been in slightly indifferent form at home in the UEFA Champions League. They have only won one out of their last five matches on home soil in the competition having lost to the likes of CSKA Moscow and Ajax and failing to beat Club Brugge within that time. It would be fair to assume then that Manchester City will be aiming to profit.
Los Blancos have been handed a few significant injury worries ahead of the match. Summer signing Eden Hazard has been ruled out for some time having broken his ankle at the weekend. He joins Marco Asensio on the sidelines, with the Spaniard having suffered a serious knee injury at the start of the campaign.
Despite a tricky couple of weeks having suffered back-to-back losses against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, Pep Guardiola’s troops appear back on track now. They have secured consecutive victories in the Premier League against West Ham United and Leicester City and as a result, it now looks highly likely that they are set to finish second in the league table. Away from domestic action, it’s been a turbulent time for the club. UEFA have handed them a two-year ban for breaking financial fair play rules so that means, owing to an unsuccessful appeal, they will not be in European football next season for the first time since the 2009/10 season. Before that though, they will be trying to lift the Champions League for the first time. The Sky Blues progressed to the next round having finished top of their group and not losing a game.
Aymeric Laporte should be okay to play at the Bernabeu despite being withdrawn just before the hour mark in the slender victory against Leicester last time out. Elsewhere, Raheem Sterling could also return to the matchday squad after recovering from a hamstring injury. Fellow winger Leroy Sane remains ruled out with the long-term injury that has seen him miss the majority of the campaign so far.
Key Facts To Consider
- Manchester City have never beaten Real Madrid in competitive action (D2, L2)
- The Sky Blues lost the last clash between the two sides 1-0
- Raheem Sterling has had a hand in seven goals in six Champions League matches this season (five goals, two assists)
- Real Madrid have won their last four knockout ties against English opposition
- Manchester City have only lost one out of their last eight games in Champions League action
With each of the sides possessing some of the most talented attacking players in the world, this match really should be a thrilling watch. Both sides will be fully confident of getting a result so there won’t be a lack of excellent football on show. Real’s experience in these key European fixtures could come in useful though and it could potentially be a victory for the home side, with a few goals.
Prediction: Real Madrid to Win 3-2
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