In what many are considering a de-facto final, the champions of England and defending champions of Europe meet at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night with the tie perfectly poised at 1-1.
In last week’s first leg, Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne scored a stunner from distance to equalise after Vinicius Jr’s equally brilliant curling strike from the edge of the area had put Real Madrid ahead at half-time.
City’s home advantage and red-hot form make them slight favourites, but Madrid’s Champions League pedigree is second-to-none and they have made comebacks and unlikely wins their speciality in recent years.
It is widely believed that whoever comes tops in this heavyweight clash will eventually lift the trophy just as it happened last season, with all due respect to both Milan clubs.
City, unbeaten since early February, are looking to win their first Champions League title, while defending champions Madrid are looking to make it a record-extending 15 titles this year.
In the Champions League semi-finals for the fourth time — and third in three years — Man City will be hoping to reach the final for just the second time in their history, and there is every chance of them doing so. Man City are in excellent form across all competitions this season, unbeaten in 21 games since losing to Tottenham in February, and it has them still on course for the Treble.
Only one English men’s team has won the Treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League: Man City’s rivals Manchester United in 1998/99, but Pep Guardiola’s men will be hoping they can end that long wait. Four points clear at the top of the Premier League with three games left to play, Man City are also in the final of the FA Cup and go into the second leg of their Champions League semi-final level with Real Madrid thanks to De Bruyne cancelling out Vinicius Jr’s opener.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, are set to go all in on the Champions League once again. Although Los Blancos have already secured the Copa del Rey this season, their La Liga title hopes are over, having struggled to keep up with Barcelona and suffering recent defeats to Girona and Real Sociedad.
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But Real Madrid in the Champions League are a different beast. The defending champions are looking to secure their 15th Champions League title and sixth in 10 years in what has been a phenomenal period of dominance, breaking various records. However, the last time Real Madrid drew the first leg of a Champions League semi-final against an English side, they were knocked out.
It promises to be a fascinating night at the Etihad Stadium. Los Blancos are the kings of pulling out a performance in this very moment yet Guardiola’s side have all the panache, ruthlessness and ability to be the team to finally upset them.
The two sides have played each other eight times. Real Madrid have won three games, City have also won three and two were draws.
Heading into Wednesday’s second leg with a 22-game unbeaten run to protect, Man City have incredibly strung together a 15-match winning streak at the Etihad Stadium in all tournaments – scoring at least twice in 14 of those contests – and not since September 2018 have they been beaten in a Champions League match on their own patch.
However, streaks and statistics mean little to a team with 14 top-tier European titles to their name, though, and Real Madrid have an added incentive to put another blot on Man City’s continental notebook this week after the La Liga title was wrestled out of their grasp.
Man City (Champions League): W D W W D D
Man City (all competitions): W W W D W
Real Madrid (Champions League): W W W W W D
Real Madrid (all competitions): L W L W D W
WHAT THE COACHES SAY
Pep Guardiola, Man City manager: “This is one of the most important games since I’ve been here, we cannot deny that. I’ve told the players to enjoy it. We’re incredibly lucky to be here. It’s in our hands, and we just need to win one game to reach the final.”
Carlo Ancelotti, Real Madrid coach: “There are some things we can do better than the first leg. We are extremely motivated, we know that it will be difficult but hopefully this will help us to be at our best. We are close to achieving something very important, just like last season.”
Apparently setting up to hit Man City on the counter once more, such tactics initially paid dividends for European specialists Real Madrid in front of their own fans last week, and discounting Ancelotti’s champions in Europe is often an act of sheer folly.
Following a cagey first leg, the goals ought to flow in Wednesday’s winner-takes-all affair, but with the free-scoring Man City juggernaut slaying every foe that steps before them at the Etihad – as well as a greater depth of attacking talent in reserve – Guardiola’s men should complete their revenge mission from 2022, punch their ticket to the final and inch ever closer to that hitherto elusive European crown.
Manchester City 2-1 Real Madrid (Man City win 3-2 on aggregate)Copyright © 2022 Completesports.com All rights reserved. The information contained in Completesports.com may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the prior written authority of Completesports.com.