Manchester City are ready to host Real Madrid in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final, with the two-legged tie level at 1-1.
A week after an intense square-off that ended 1-1, Real Madrid are all set to hit the road to once again square up against Manchester City. This time it is the second leg, and a spot in the Champions League final awaits either of the team.
The Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid played host to the first leg between the two teams. It was a high-voltage end-to-end match that ended in a draw courtesy of two absolutely stunning goals. Vinicius Junior gave Madrid the lead with a banger from outside the box, and Kevin De Bruyne levelled things up with an even better strike.
Now, it is time for the second leg at the Etihad. And an in-form Manchester City are all set to host the defending champions, Real Madrid. City have been unbeaten in their last 22 matches in all competitions. They have won 18 out of those fixtures.
As far as the league goes, they have a four-point advantage at the top of the table with a game in hand. They are likely to win the league without much struggle from here on. And, Pep Guardiola’s men will also be involved FA Cup final against Manchester United.
City can end up winning the treble in the ongoing season. But, for the hopes of a treble to be kept alive, they will have to defeat a Madrid outfit that had knocked them out of the UCL last season. Meanwhile, Real Madrid have already won the Copa del Rey. But, as far as the league is concerned, they have been well beaten by Barcelona, who recently managed to claim their 27th La Liga title.
While they have already claimed a title in the ongoing season, they are desperate to win the UCL again. Because without the Champions League, it might not be considered a successful season. And, Carlo Ancelotti’s job depends on how his team does in the biggest European competition.
The disappointment of losing the league would surely motivate the players to push the extra mile in the Champions League. And, they would be hoping to pull off a stunning win at the Etihad Stadium. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at this fixture and tries to predict the tactics they could deploy.
Team News & Tactics
Pep Guardiola’s only concern heading into the second leg is the fitness of Nathan Ake. The Manchester City defender has struggled with a hamstring injury that he sustained against Leeds. While Guardiola did say that he is in a much better condition, the participation of the Dutchman is still a doubt.
It's time to hear from @PepTeam and @kylewalker2 ahead of our #UCL semi-final clash against Real Madrid 💪
Watch live 👇
— Manchester City (@ManCity) May 16, 2023
The Spanish manager will go ahead with the 3-4-2-1 formation and is expected to field the same XI that they did against Real Madrid in the first leg. Brazilian Ederson Moraes will be in goal. Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias and Manuel Akanji will be the back three.
Walker will start on the right to counter the pace that Real Madrid possess on the left flank. Rodri and John Stones will feature as double pivots in the centre of the park. Stones will push back into the defence to convert it into a back four when the going gets tough.
Bernardo Silva and Jack Grealish will feature in the role of wing-backs. The duo will look to stretch the opposition and cut inside to their preferred foot whenever the opportunity arrives. Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gündogan will be the attacking midfielder.
De Bruyne was the one who scored a stunner to level things out in the first leg, and he might be the man to watch out for in the second leg. The Belgian international will have a free-flowing role and his major objective will be to supply the dangerous Erling Haaland with opportunities to score.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Ederson; Walker, Dias, Akanji; Silva, Stones, Rodri, Grealish; De Bruyne, Gundogan; Haaland
Eduardo Camavinga is Real Madrid’s only injury concern ahead of the second leg against Manchester City. However, manager Carlo Ancelotti believes the Frenchman will be fit in time for this outing.
📋✅ Our squad for the match 🆚 @ManCity!#UCL pic.twitter.com/6f85tSEFlT
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) May 15, 2023
Meanwhile, Real Madrid do have a big boost as Ferland Mendy is back in the mix, and he featured in their last outing in the league. And, Eder Militao is also expected to return to XI for this fixture.
While there is a lot of talk going around about Ancelotti shifting to a defensive 4-4-2, they might actually start with the 4-3-3 and then change formations in the second half depending on the situation. If the scores are level heading into the second half, the Italian manager might shift to a 4-2-3-1, where Rodrygo might feature as an attacking midfielder.
But for now, it will be a 4-3-3 where Thibaut Courtois will be in goal. Meanwhile, Dani Carvajal and David Alaba will be the full-backs. With Militao back in the mix, he will pair up with Antonio Rudiger in the heart of the defence.
Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Federico Valverde will feature in the centre of the park. They have already seen what De Bruyne is capable of with his super strike in the first leg. The trio will look to keep him quiet in this high-voltage fixture. Rodrygo Goes and Vinicius Junior will be the wingers. Meanwhile, Karim Benzema will lead the attack.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Rudiger, Alaba; Valverde, Kroos, Modric; Rodrygo, Benzema, Vinicius Jr
- In the 11 meetings between Real Madrid and Manchester City, both teams have won four games each.
- Pep Guardiola’s men have only lost one out of their last five fixtures against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League.
- Real Madrid have not won any of their last four away matches against City.
- Los Blancos were victorious in their last two away knockout games in the competition. And, they will hope for a similar result.
- Manchester City are on a 25-match unbeaten streak at home in the UEFA Champions League. Their last defeat came back in 2018.
Player to Watch
The 22-year-old Real Madrid forward has been doing wonders for his club over the past few seasons. He played a key role in helping them lift the Champions League last time out. And, he could be their man once again this season.
The young Brazilian winger has had an impressive UCL campaign so far. In 11 matches, he has scored five goals and provided two assists. Rodrygo was the game-changer for Madrid last time out in the knockout stage and Carlo Ancelotti will hope he once again gets the job done for his team.
Manchester City 1-2 Real Madrid
Home team Manchester City have been unbeaten in their last 22 matches. They are heading into this fixture high on confidence after restricting Real Madrid to a 1-1 draw in the first leg away from home. Pep Guardiola’s team have a chance of winning the treble but for that, they will have to overcome the Spanish challenge.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid, who have recently won the Copa del Rey, will be confident of a positive result. They won the Champions League last time out and will go all out to defend their title. However, it won’t be an easy affair. The Hard Tackle predicts a hard-fought 2-1 win for Real Madrid.
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