Had this second leg last 16 Champions League game been played in March, there is no doubt Real Madrid would have gone out without a whimper. Now, six months later, Real Madrid certainly have a chance at overcoming their 2-1 deficit from the first leg. Los Blancos must score at least two goals without reply to go through. The Spanish champions had a brilliant end to the La Liga campaign and could carry that over to the Champions League last 16 second leg.
Pep Guardiola’s team did finish the Premier League season with five straight wins. However, none of those five teams had the attacking power or defensive solidity of Real Madrid. Manchester City defeated Newcastle United, Watford, Brighton, Bournemouth, and Norwich City to end the domestic season. They outscored those lower table teams 21-1 showing their flat-track bully persona.
Manchester City played in the FA Cup semifinal versus Arsenal and struggled offensively, losing 2-0. Guardiola will hope his side can perform better in the final third when Los Blancos make the trip to Manchester.
The winner of the tie will face the victor of Lyon versus Juventus eight days later. Which side will make it through?
Although Real Madrid go into the second leg needing to score twice to have a chance at progression to the quarterfinals, they are a far different team than the one that played in the first leg. When Zinedine Zidane’s team met Manchester City, they were in the midst of winning just two times in seven fixtures. It was the lowest point of the campaign for Los Blancos and injuries to key players such as Eden Hazard had them struggling on the pitch.
The La Liga hiatus allowed Real Madrid to get fit. Real Madrid went unbeaten in 11 straight games when the division restarted with 10 of those games finishing in wins. If Manchester City weren’t worried about the game, they certainly should be now.
The good news for Manchester City is that they are playing at home. They posted a 15W-2D-2L record at the Etihad Stadium. The Cityzens do not need to win against Real Madrid to advance to Portugal for the quarterfinals. They merely need to prevent giving up two away goals without scoring. The pressure is on Real Madrid as they must score and defend in equal measure to overcome Manchester City’s 2-1 lead.
Manchester City may score a lot of goals against the weak sides in England, but they have struggled against big teams in games that count. Fans may point to Manchester City’s 4-0 demolition of Premier League champions Liverpool. However, the Reds had already wrapped up the title making the game forgettable by the time the season came to a conclusion.
Guardiola raised hopes last week that striker Sergio Aguero will be available for selection. Aguero underwent knee surgery during the hiatus and has been recovering. Although Manchester City have scored goals without him, they don’t have the killer instinct in the final third with him on the sidelines. Manchester City’s FA Cup semifinal loss to Arsenal 2-0 was evidence of that.
According to reports in Spain, Zidane has just one player suffering from an injury at the moment. Full-back Marcelo is listed as possible to return to the team this month. He could feature against the Cityzens if his muscle strain heals in time.
The big news for Zidane is centre-back Sergio Ramos will be suspended and unavailable for the second leg. Ramos was sent off against Manchester City in the first leg which resulted in the visitors getting a penalty. Real Madrid’s record in the Champions League without Ramos is cause for concern. They have posted a 1W-0D-6L record without him.
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Real Madrid desperately need their star striker to step up and score goals versus Manchester City. The Cityzens’ defence may have kept clean sheets against weaker Premier League teams, but they also conceded goals against better clubs. Benzema scored 26 goals in 47 games in all competitions. Four of those goals came in seven Champions League matches.
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Real Madrid have to score at least two goals to have hope of progressing to the next round. Manchester City will need to reply with goals to stay on top of the tie. It may be forgotten that Real Madrid went toe to toe with Manchester City in the previous game and led after an Isco goal on 60 minutes. The Cityzens go two goals in the final 12 minutes to win.
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Kevin De Bruyne’s 86th minute penalty enabled Manchester City to leave the Santiago Bernabeu with a 2-1 win. The final scoreline was a bit deceiving. Los Blancos played well but a late Manchester City flurry gave them the win. The game was a bit like Manchester City’s performances against Arsenal in the FA Cup semifinal and versus Bournemouth at the end of the Premier League season. Both games saw Manchester City put up goose eggs on the scoresheet.
Ramos’ absence from the heart of Real Madrid’s defence will create a huge hole. He is travelling to Manchester with the squad to provide support to his teammates. With the centre-back now 34, Real Madrid’s squad must find ways to win without him.
Real Madrid can certainly overcome the deficit with the quality of players they have in the team. The only problem will be keeping Manchester City from scoring while piling forward to get goals of their own. Manchester City could have an advantage as they finished the Premier League season on July 26th. One week later than Real Madrid. Could the momentum send Manchester City through? Expect an exciting game with Manchester City qualifying for the quarterfinals.
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The Etihad Stadium is hosting Manchester City vs Real Madrid on Friday evening.
No, it is not possible to live stream this match with a bookmaker.
Man City vs Real Madrid kicks-off at 20:00 UK time on Friday 7th August.