Man City resume there Champions League Campaign with the second leg of the round of 16 tie with Real Madrid. City won the away leg at The Bernabeu by two goals to one way back on February 26th with Gabriel Jesus and Kevin de Bruyne (Pen) getting the goals. If Pep Guardiola is to deliver that first elusive Champions League Trophy for City then it will be won the hard way with a really tough draw ahead. Should they get past Madrid they will face the winners of Juventus/Lyon and then a potential Semi Final with Bayern Munich or Barcelona. Should they overcome those hurdles it could well be Financial Powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain awaiting in the Final.
City absolutely breezed through the Group Stages picking up picking up 14 points from fixtures against Shakhtar (W 0-3) (D 1-1) Atalanta (W 5-1) (D 1-1) Dinamo Zagreb ( W 2-0) (W 1-4). History suggests that City are in a great position with a 2-1 lead from the away leg. All 7 times City have held a lead from the away leg they have progressed to the next stage. It has been a busy week at The Etihad with Nathan Ake and Ferran Torres both arriving at the club to strengthen what is already an incredibly talented unit. Neither player will be available to face Madrid and Sergio Aguero is still missing for Guardiola through injury and Benjamin Bendy will also miss out having picked up a booking in the first leg and is suspended.
The first leg was totally dominated by Man City and the only real surprise was that they fell behind to Isco’s strike but they had enough quality to score twice in the final 12 Minutes to turn the Match around in Spain. Again there will be no crowd at The Etihad but that has not affected City at all since the restart and they have been irresistable in beating Arsenal (3-0) Burnley (5-0) Liverpool (4-0) Newcastle (5-0) Bournemouth (2-1) and Norwich (5-0) . Madrid will have to attack needing at least two away goals and City will exploit that so the 8/1 on a Home Win with 888Sport (New Customer Offer) looks very appealing. Gabriel Jesus caused the Madrid defence all kinds of problems with his movement in the first leg and with an unfamiliar looking line up he can do this same again. He loves a Champions League Goal at The Etihad and is 29/20 to score again with William Hill.
Real Madrid may not be kings of Europe anymore having won 3 Champions Leagues in a row between 2015 and 2018 but they are once again the domestic champions in Spain denying Barcelona 3 Titles in a row this season. Zinedine Zidane was the mastermind of those Champions League wins but he left the club just 5 days after the 2018 Victory citing “Need for Change” as his reason. Santi Solari had a five month spell in charge followed by an 8 month tenure for Julen Lopetegui but when results were not good enough the call was made for Zidane to return and the lure of The Bernabeu was too much for the Frenchman. It was a slow start but with Barcelona showing inconsistent form Madrid were able to catch the Catalans and overtake them towards the end of the season to win La Liga.
It is not the same Real Madrid of a old as they no longer all out attack and are now built on a strong defensive foundation which saw them achieve there best defensive stats in over 30 years in 2019/20. Madrid were drawn in a Group with PSG and despite finishing second to The Parisians they were never in danger of not qualifying and finished with 11 points from the fixtures PSG (L 0-3) (D 2-2) Galatasaray (W 6-0) (W 0-1) Brugge (D 2-2) (W 0-2). Zidane has some selection headaches for the trip to Manchester with Sergio Ramos suspended and Mariano Diaz unavailable due to Covid-19. Eden Hazard is a major doubt but could feature but James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale will definitely not play as they have not travelled with the Matchday Squad.
It looks a tall order for Madrid to turn this deficit around but they will be buoyed by the form they showed in the closing weeks of La Liga and they have won there last 4 Knockout Games away from home in The Champions League. There is so much quality in this Madrid Squad and they can never be written off so the 28/1 (888Sport New Customers) to win the Match in 90 Minutes looks a very big price. Karim Benzema played second fiddle to Ronaldo for a number of years at The Bernabeu but the Frenchman now has more freedom and that is shown in his stats with 26 Goals this season including 4 in 7 in The Champions League. He looks the obvious pick in the Madrid team and is 2/1 to score anytime with William Hill.