The domestic leagues have been settled. The Europa League is already underway. Now, it’s time to welcome the best teams into the European arena. It’s time to prepare for the Champions League knockouts.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought the footballing world to a screeching halt. The Champions League, which was only in the Round of 16 stage, too, was abandoned and thrown into a pit of uncertainty.
Even five months after the outbreak, the world is yet to find a cure, but football has somehow found its way back, has somehow bounced back to offer us a bit of respite.
This Friday, we’ll have two goliaths of the game going head to head in Manchester. The first leg saw Manchester City nick a well-deserved 2-1 win at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Now, it’s time to see whether Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid have what it takes to overturn the deficit and book a place in the quarter-finals of the competition.
Manchester City vs Real Madrid: The road to Round of 16
Group stage Matchday 1: Shakhtar Donetsk 0-3 Manchester City
Group stage Matchday 2: Manchester City 2-0 Dinamo Zagreb
Group stage Matchday 3: Manchester City 5-1 Atalanta
Group stage Matchday 4: Atalanta 1-1 Manchester City
Group stage Matchday 5: Manchester City 1-1 Shakhtar Donetsk
Group stage Matchday 6: Dinamo Zagreb 1-4 Manchester City
Round-of-16 First Leg: Real Madrid 1-2 Manchester City
Premier League giants, Manchester City started their Champions League journey in sublime fashion, recording a 3-0 win away at Shakhtar. The match was full of City’s signature moves and unstoppable movement, rendering Shakhtar’s defence helpless.
Manchester City continued the trend in the next two matches, recording 2-0 and 5-1 wins over Zagreb and Atalanta, respectively.
Atalanta, embarrassed by the 5-1 defeat, bounced back in the second leg, but couldn’t muster more than a draw. Shakhtar, too, performed well in the return fixture and nicked a 1-1 draw. Zagreb, sadly, was outplayed once again at home.
In the first leg of their Round of 16 tie against Real Madrid, Manchester City found themselves 1-0 down in the 60th minute. However, thanks to their grit and determination, the Citizens found it in themselves to score twice in the final 12 minutes of the tie and returned home with a 1-2 win.
Group stage Matchday 1: Paris SG 3-0 Real Madrid
Group stage Matchday 2: Real Madrid 2-2 Club Brugge
Group stage Matchday 3: Galatasary 0-1 Real Madrid
Group stage Matchday 4: Real Madrid 6-0 Galatasaray
Group stage Matchday 5: Club Brugge 1-3 Real Madrid
Group stage Matchday 6: Real Madrid 2-2 Paris SG
Round-of-16 First Leg: Real Madrid 1-2 Manchester City
While Manchester City started the campaign with a 3-0 win, Real Madrid found themselves on the receiving end of a 3-0 hammering at Paris Saint-Germain. They followed it up with a disappointing 2-2 draw against Club Brugge.
They found a bit of rhythm in the next two games against Galatasaray, recording 1-0 and 0-6 wins, home and away, respectively. Brugge were also comfortably brushed aside on matchday 5, but a complacent Real Madrid couldn’t beat Paris Saint-Germain at home and settled for a 2-2 draw.
Against City, Real Madrid were always going to have a hard time. However, no one expected them to surrender the slender advantage that Isco had gifted them in the 60th.
Sadly, that’s exactly what they did in the final 15 minutes, allowing Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne to snatch all three points for Pep Guardiola’s side. To make things worse, Real Madrid skipper, Sergio Ramos, saw red in the dying minutes of the match, ruling himself out of the return leg.
Manchester City vs Real Madrid: Head-to-head record
Manchester City and Real Madrid have met five times so far. Two matches have gone in favour of Los Blancos, and one in favour of City. Spoils were shared in the remaining two fixtures. Real Madrid have scored six goals, while Manchester City have netted five.
2012-13 Group Stage Matchday 1: Real Madrid 3-2 Manchester City
2012-13 Group Stage Matchday 5: Manchester City 1-1 Real Madrid
2015-16 Semi-final first leg: Manchester City 0-0 Real Madrid
2015-16 Semi-final second leg: Real Madrid 1-0 Manchester City
2019-20 Round-of-16 First Leg: Real Madrid 1-2 Manchester City
Manchester City vs Real Madrid: Recent form
Manchester City: W-W-L-W-W
Real Madrid: D-W-W-W-W
Manchester City vs Real Madrid: Team news
Manchester City won’t be able to rely on record-scorer, Sergio Aguero, and left-back, Benjamin Mendy. The former has been ruled out due to a knee injury, while the latter sits out after picking up a yellow in the first leg. Joao Cancelo could be given the nod to start in place of Mendy.
Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez have been left out of the squad, while Eden Hazard remains a wild card. It’ll be interesting to see how Zinedine Zidane lines up his side for the make-or-break tie.
Manchester City vs Real Madrid: Predicted XI
Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Garcia, Laporte, Cancelo; Rodri, Gundogan, De Bruyne; Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Mahrez.
Real Madrid (4-3-1-2): Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Varane, Mendy; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Isco; Benzema, Rodrygo.
Manchester City vs Real Madrid: Prediction
Since the restart, Real Madrid have won 10 matches and drawn the other. Their extraordinary run in La Liga handed them the title, beating arch-rivals Barcelona.
They love playing in the Champions League and usually outlast their opponents when it comes to perseverance. The 13 titles are a testament to the belief the club have always had and Friday night will all be about channelling their belief.
Manager Zinedine Zidane is yet to lose a knockout tie in the Champions League, but Pep Guardiola might just have enough to do the impossible.
City are the most free-scoring, trigger happy team in the world and they’d love to take the fight to Real Madrid’s surprisingly-organised defence. Ramos’ absence could make Manchester City bolder, but they must also be wary of Real Madrid’s knack for scoring on the break.
If Real Madrid can nick an early goal, Manchester City will be under insurmountable pressure, especially at home. Considering Real Madrid practically have nothing to lose, they are expected to come out all guns blazing and try to nick a goal.
The hosts must find a way to keep Karim Benzema and co under wraps, at least for the first 60 minutes.
All things considered, we believe newly-crowned La Liga champions, Real Madrid, just might have enough to edge City, probably in extra-time.
Manchester City vs Real Madrid verdict: 1-2 (Real Madrid to win in ET)