City welcome Real Madrid to Etihad Stadium
The La Liga champions-elect meet the Premier League holders in the semi-finals of this season’s Champions League, and the Etihad Stadium plays host to the first leg of Manchester City and Real Madrid‘s semi-final on Tuesday night.
Pep Guardiola‘s men needed just the one goal to scrape past Atletico Madrid in the quarters, while Real ended Chelsea’s hopes of back-to-back European crowns in dramatic fashion.
A goalless draw in the Spanish capital was enough for Man City to progress to the semi-finals for the second season running. Nevertheless, City got the job done on the pitch before their treble hopes were dashed by Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-finals, but their customary thumping of Watford – with Gabriel Jesus scoring four – keeps their dreams of a domestic and continental double very much alive.
Man City have remained undefeated at the Etihad in the Champions League since a 2-1 loss to Lyon back in September 2018.
After being forced to overturn a 1-0 deficit to get the better of Paris Saint-Germain earlier in the tournament, the tables very nearly turned for Real Madrid during the visit of Chelsea, who were on the verge of completing a phenomenal comeback from a 3-1 first-leg loss at Stamford Bridge.
However, one of the passes of the season from Luka Modric allowed substitute Rodrygo to volley home and force extra time, where the head of Karim Benzema sunk the Blues to book Real Madrid’s spot in the last four of the competition.
Carlo Ancelotti‘s side enter the first leg having battled past Osasuna 3-1 on Wednesday night – in spite of two penalty misses for Benzema – and a 14th European crown is firmly in their sight. Los Blancos enter the first leg on a six-game winning streak away from home across all competitions
Tuesday’s first leg will mark the seventh meeting between familiar foes Real and Man City in the Champions League, with the Citizens claiming a pair of 2-1 wins in the 2019-20 last 16, but Los Blancos had previously won 1-0 over two legs in the 2015-16 semi-finals. There have also been two drawn games between the two sides, making the head-to-head fairly balanced.
While all players who had only amassed one or two yellow have now seen their infringements wiped, City will have to cope without Joao Cancelo for the first leg, as the Portuguese picked up his third caution of the tournament at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Guardiola will therefore be desperate to have Kyle Walker back from an ankle issue in time for Tuesday – the right-back is “much, much better” according to the Catalan coach – and it remains to be seen if John Stones will battle back from a muscular injury to make himself available.
While Real Madrid do not have any suspension concerns for the first leg – Eder Militao is back from a ban served in the home loss to Chelsea – Ancelotti’s injury problems are mounting after David Alaba was taken off with a thigh issue against Osasuna.
The defender was restricted to indoor work on Saturday alongside Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic and Mariano Diaz – all three of whom will miss out – but Alaba has made the squad alongside Casemiro and Ferland Mendy and could earn some minutes here.
Defensive uncertainties and absentees on both sides should have both revered managers feeling confident of gleaning a first-leg advantage at the Etihad, with Benzema and Vinicius capable of plucking goals out of nowhere for the visitors.
However, City will need no second invitation to break down a depleted Blancos backline in front of their own crowd, and we expect an end-to-end first leg with plenty of goalmouth action to end all square.
Manchester City possible starting lineup: Ederson; Walker, Dias, Laporte, Zinchenko; Silva, Rodri, De Bruyne; Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling
Real Madrid possible starting lineup: Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Nacho, Marcelo; Kroos, Camavinga, Modric; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius Junior