Manchester City host Real Madrid in a historical Champions league semifinal first leg tie at the Etihad stadium later tonight. A tie that is mouth-watering in nature and promises goals and drama galore.
Manchester City had themselves to blame in their previous tie vs Real Madrid in Champions league group stage 2012-13. Leading 2-1 at the Bernabeau with just three minutes of regular time to go, Mancini’s men lost way in last three minutes to lose 3-2, provoking wild celebrations from Real manager Jose Mourinho. In return leg it finished 1-1, as sky blues failed to advance from group stage of this competition that year. They cannot afford lapses of such magnitude again.
Over the last decade and half, every time Real Madrid has played the Manchester clubs in Champions league, it has resulted in flurry of goals. Real Madrid have exchanged 21 goals over six meetings with Manchester United since 2000; and 7 goals over two meetings with Manchester City. That, 28 goals over 8 games, data average to 3.5 goals per game. In all the four ties mentioned, Galacticos emerged the better team.
The same sentiment is echoed at the betting market too – Goals galore and a win for Real Madrid. I did an average of top 5 betting sites odds and this is how it looks.
Manchester City win : 34%
Draw : 28%
Real Madrid win : 41%
While Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, Gareth Bale and fitness status of Karim Benzema are key to this tie, the matchup between Vincent Kompany and Cristiano Ronaldo is one that will likely affect odds the most. Either name, featuring or not featuring in team sheet, will swing the odds. Ronaldo had slight groin strain and expected to start (was rested over the weekend) while Kompany is just back from yet another injury layoff.
9 of the 11 spots automatically pick themselves up for both teams.
For Real Madrid the spots in contention are Benzema (injured) or Jese or Lucas Vasquez and Carvajal (recovering) or Danilo.
Real Madrid: Navas; Carvajal (Danilo), Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo; Modrić, Casemiro, Kroos; Bale, Jesé (Lucas Vázquez), Ronaldo.
For Manchester City the key spot in contention is Mangala or the just back from injury Kompany, and risking the latter limping off again – as has happened before this season. The other spot in doubt is recovering Sagna or Zabaleta.
Manchester City: Hart; Sagna (Zabaleta), Otamendi, Kompany (Mangala), Clichy; Fernando, Fernandinho; Navas, De Bruyne, Silva; Agüero.
Form guide and Fine print:
Both teams have had impressive and undefeated last five games running up to this blockbuster tie. However Madrid’s away performances haven’t been as convincing with loss to Wolfsburg, earlier this month, and scare from Rayo Vallecano over the weekend.
Of the four remaining Champions league semifinalists 2015-16, Real Madrid have the weakest defence. Also with Karim Benzema likely missing, the extra bite in their attack is gone when compared to Manchester City.
Aside beating a jaded Barcelona at Nou Camp, Madrid are yet to convince fans versus big teams. This is Manchester City’s big night and big chance. They were impressive in knocking out tie favourites Paris St. Germain in the quarter finals.
Manuel Pellegrini had points to prove to Real Madrid (whom he has managed in 2009-10), to Manchester City board and higher the benchmark for his replacement, Pep Guardiola.
Manchester City to win at Etihad, both teams to score.