• Charley Longden

Everything you need to know, Predicted XI – Manchester City vs Real Madrid Preview

Manchester City will take on Real Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final at the Etihad Stadium. The match will kick off at 20:00 (BST) – and will be broadcast live on BT Sport 2. Pep Guardiola’s men are chasing a second consecutive Champions League final, with Carlo Ancelotti’s Madrid on the hunt for a 14th Champions League title.

 

Team News


In his press conference – Guardiola confirmed that John Stones and Kyle Walker are both doubts heading into Tuesday night’s fixture with Real Madrid. The Catalan said that ‘we'll see how they feel’, stating that a decision will be made ‘tomorrow’. Guardiola said that Walker has not trained ‘in the last 10 days’ and Stones has not trained ‘since Brighton’. Neither took part in the open training session this afternoon. Joao Cancelo is also unavailable for the match against Madrid as he is suspended after picking up a yellow card against Atletico Madrid. This leaves the Blues without any of their typical right-back options.


Predicted XI:


Ederson, Fernandinho, Dias, Laporte, Ake, Rodri, De Bruyne, Bernardo, Mahrez, Jesus, Foden

+ 2/3 academy players
 

Overview


Form: WWLDD

League position: 1st

Top scorer: Mahrez (23)

Previous result: W 5-1 vs Watford (H)


City were at their devastating best in terms of goal scoring on the weekend and fired 5 past Watford’s shot-stopper, Ben Foster. The Blues had 74% possession and completed 701 passes in the match, controlling the tempo of the game and looking ruthless in front of goal. The league leaders managed to convert 5 of their 8 shots on target, with Gabriel Jesus netting 4 goals and providing an assist on the day. The game was over long before the final whistle was blown, with City scoring their 5th goal in the 53rd minute. The Blues then managed the game and kept possession of the ball, ensuring there were no new injuries heading into a crucial Champions League tie on Tuesday.

Kevin De Bruyne has been in fine form as of late and provided 2 assists against Watford. The Belgian now has 11 assists in all competitions and has been directly involved in 25 goals this season. De Bruyne has stepped his game up a gear over the last couple of months and has been directly involved in 15 goals in his last 11 matches at the Etihad. Guardiola will be hoping for another performance like the one he produced against Watford heading into Tuesday’s fixture, as De Bruyne created more chances (4) and made more crosses (9) than any other City player, despite only being on the pitch for 57 minutes.


Despite recent speculation regarding his future, Jesus was professional and didn’t let any of it affect his game. The Brazilian was at his scintillating best against Watford and looked razor sharp in front of goal. Jesus was the first player to score 4 goals in a Premier League game since Son Heung-min against Southampton in September 2020. The 25-year-old is only the third Manchester City player that has managed to score 4 or more goals in a Premier League match after Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero. The Brazilian has surely done enough to earn a spot in the starting line-up against Real Madrid on Tuesday, as he is in excellent goal-scoring form and has a fine record in the ‘big’ matches. Jesus scored in both legs of the Champions League Round of 16 when City last met Real Madrid in 2020.

Photo courtesy of OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

With it being the business end of the season, Guardiola unsurprisingly used his squad depth in his line-up selection against Watford. The Catalan made six changes to the side that beat Brighton 3-0 in the week. The game was dead and buried at 5-1 – therefore, Guardiola looked to his substitutes to give some of his top players a much-needed rest. De Bruyne was brought off in the 57th minute, followed by Aymeric Laporte in the 63rd minute, and finally Rodri in the 70th minute.


City will need to be at the top of their game to find a way past La Liga leaders Real Madrid over two legs. The Blues are seeking revenge in the Champions League after last season’s bitter disappointment in the final against Chelsea. If City do manage to overcome the Spanish giants, it would be Guardiola’s 4th Champions League final as a manager. The 51-year-old has previously won the competition twice while managing Barcelona.

Photo courtesy of Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images
 

Opposition


Form: WWLWW

League position: 1st

Top scorer: Benzema (39)

Previous result: W 1-3 vs Osasuna (A)


Madrid overcame a valiant Osasuna last week, beating them 3-1 with goals from David Alaba, Marco Ascensio and Lucas Vazquez. Incredibly, in-form striker Karim Benzema had two second-half penalties saved by Osasuna keeper Sergio Herrera. Madrid sealed the win late on in the match, with Vazquez scoring deep into stoppage time to hand the league leaders 3 points. Ancelotti’s side are now 15 points clear at the top of the table, with 5 games left of the season – meaning they are just 1 point away from their 35th La Liga title.

In his pre-game press conference, Ancelotti has confirmed reports in Spain suggesting Alaba and Casemiro are doubts for tomorrow's game but has stated that he will know for definite at training this evening.


Real Madrid overcame Chelsea in the quarter-final of the Champions League, beating them 5-4 over two legs. Los Blancos beat Chelsea 3-1 at Stamford Bridge, after a sensational hat trick from Benzema. In the second leg, Madrid were pushed all the way, with Chelsea 3-1 up after 90 minutes – the game went into extra time. A 96th-minute winner from Benzema was enough to see Madrid through to the semi-final. No club has ever won the Champions League more times than 13-time winners Real, with their last coming in 2018 after a memorable final against Liverpool.


Benzema has been in unstoppable form; the Frenchman has 39 goals and has provided 13 assists across all competitions this season. He is averaging 1.3 goal involvements per game this campaign. The Frenchman is currently the second-highest goal scorer in the Champions League this season with 12, only one goal behind Robert Lewandowski. Madrid’s marksman has been clinical in the Champions League this season, averaging 1.31 goals per 90.

Photo courtesy of David Ramos/Getty Images
 

Head-to-Head


Played: 6

Won: 2

Drawn: 2

Lost: 2


Manchester City have only faced off against Real Madrid six times in history. City were unable to beat Madrid in their first four meetings – however, have come out on top in the last two matches. The first time these two sides met was in 2012, a 3-2 loss at the Santiago Bernabeu. City took the lead late on in the match through Aleksander Kolarov, but Madrid bounced back with an equaliser through Benzema in the 87th minute, followed by a 90th-minute winner from Cristiano Ronaldo. The aggregate score in the six meetings between the two sides is 7-7.

Guardiola and Ancelotti have only faced each other six times throughout their careers. Guardiola has come out on top in four of those matches, with Ancelotti winning the other two. The results between these two managers have often been even, as the overall aggregate score between Guardiola and Ancelotti is 12-7. Ancelotti has won the Champions League three times and the Premier League once, while Guardiola has won the Champions League twice and the Premier League three times. These two legendary managers have both won the World's Best Club Coach award twice.

Photo courtesy of JON SUPER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
 

Officials


Referee: Istvan Kovacs

Assistants: Vasile Florin Marinescu and Ovidiu Artene

Fourth Official: Sandro Scharer (Replaces Artur Dias)

VAR: Marco Fritz

Assistant VAR: Bastian Dankert

Photo courtesy of PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images
 

Written by: @CharleyLongden


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