The UEFA Champions League returns with a big bang as Manchester City finally take on Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium on Friday night in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, a match postponed from March. This is the third Champions League meeting between Manchester City and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium; the previous two ends as draws wherein we saw 1-1 in the 2012/13 group stage, and 0-0 in 2015/16 semi-final first leg.
Zinedine Zidane and his men head into this contest as underdogs as they look to overturn a first-leg deficit for the first time since the 2015/15 Champions League quarter-final against Wolfsburg. The Los Blancos progressed from that tie in a 3-0 score wherein Cristiano Ronaldo scored all three goals.
Tie coming at the right and wrong time
For Manchester City, the return leg against Real Madrid is at the wrong time. Pep Guardiola’s side would have been clear favorites to progress had the match taken place as originally planned following their memorable 2-1 comeback victory at the Santiago Bernabeu in February.
However, the tie is now far harder to call. Since the football season resumed after its three-month stoppage for the Covid-19 outbreak, Real Madrid has been the better side. Just like you, casino games online knows all the drill and we understand the excitement. The La Liga champions recorded 10 games in succession to overtake Barcelona for the La Liga title this season.
Manchester City, on the other hand, was also in high spirits with some notable big wins to their name (thrashing Liverpool 4-0, Burnley, Newcastle United, Brighton and Hove Albion, and Norwich City all 5-0) but they have also slipped up with losses to Chelsea, Southampton and – on the big stage of an FA Cup semi-final where they lost 0-2 to Arsenal.
An encounter without Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola and his counterpart Zinedine Zidane boast an extraordinary Champions League record between them. The two managers have won the competition as players and have recorded success more than once (have won five Champions Leagues between them as managers) as coaches.
However, the perception between the two is that they need to win the Champions League without great players in their sides to truly underline their managerial extent. In Guardiola’s case, that is Lionel Messi while Cristiano Ronaldo in the latter.
It is nine since Guardiola recorded his last two Champions League wins as Barcelona boss, which is an age for one of the greatest managers of his kind. Three semi-final losses with Bayern Munich, this marks his fourth attempt with Man City after knock-out stage defeats to Monaco, Liverpool, and Tottenham Hotspur.
Zidane guided Real Madrid to three victories from 2016-18 (back-to-back) but his side then, were powered by the brilliance and exemptional work rate of Cristiano Ronaldo, who now plies his trade at Serie A with Juventus.
Remember why we mentioned above this tie comes at the wrong time for Manchester City? Yes, that’s simply because City will again be without the service of their top scorer Sergio Kun Aguero, who underwent knee surgery in June.
However, hope lingers on that the prolific forward could still feature in the competition should his side progress to the last-eight tournament in Portugal, but this game comes too soon and, in all in all likelihood, we should see Brazil striker Gabriel Jesus leading the attack. For City once again, they will play this tie without Benjamin Mendy.
The Frenchman collected yellow cards in both their group stage matches against Atalanta, meaning he was one just booking away from serving a one-game suspension. It took less than 30 minutes for Mendy to go into the book, receiving a yellow for a clumsy challenge on Madrid midfielder Luka Modric. Mendy’s booking means he won’t be available for a selection in the second-leg giving Pep Guardiola a potential selection headache.
For Real Madrid, the Spanish giants will be without their captain Sergio Ramos after his sending off in the closing minutes of the first leg. In such a scenario, Zidane could field Eder Militao in place of Ramos to play in central defence alongside Raphael Varane. There is again doubt over former Chelsea star Eden Hazard, who has endured an injury-hit first season at the club.
Key and tie defining factors
Kevin De Bruyne, who scored and set up Manchester City’s other goal in the first leg, will be Zinedine Zidane’s most feared man in the Citizen’s squad after a remarkable end to the season. The Belgium international ends the 2019-20 Premier League season with 20 assists and 13 goals to his name for Man City. Get best odds for De Bruyne finding the net on Friday night at best usa casino sites. England international, Raheem Sterling, who has been linked with a potential move to Real Madrid earlier in the year, is another potential dangerman for the Spanish side.
Guardiola will be looking to shut down the supply lines to Karim Benzema, who has birthed a new performance since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure and scored 26 goals this season. In terms of external factors that could define this tie for the visitors, Real can call on plenty of big-game experience having been there in the past and won the competition, even when they are expected to lose, four times in the past six seasons.
Another defining factor for this tie is the fact that it will be played behind closed doors, both City and Real will have no fans to back them and City might at least feel in better touch having played a fortnight ago compared to Real Madrid who the last outing was three weeks ago.Copyright © 2020 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.