Real Madrid vs Manchester City: Preview and Prediction

Defending champions Manchester City will have to take down Real Madrid, the record-winners of the Champions League for a place in the semi-finals.

Manchester City will hit the road to square up against Real Madrid at the iconic Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final 1st leg. It promises to be an edge-of-the-seat thriller as two of Europe’s biggest teams once again meet in the knockouts.

Last season, when the two teams squared up against each other in the semi-finals, Real Madrid hosted the first leg which ended 1-1. But, in the second leg, Los Blancos got outplayed, and they ended up suffering a humiliating 4-0 defeat at the hands of Pep Guardiola.

When the Merengues take the field this season, they will look to avenge that defeat from last time out. But it won’t be easy given the quality of the opposition. Real Madrid are top of La Liga, and they have been in sensational form throughout the season.

As far as the UEFA Champions Leau is concerned, they topped their group by winning all of their fixtures before squaring up against RB Leipzig in the Round of 16. While they did not really put up a convincing performance against the German outfit, they did manage to make it to the next round. Los Blancos have won each of their last three games, and they will be confident of their chances against City.

The visitors have not been as dominant as they have been over the past few seasons. Having said that, they are third in the Premier League and are just one point behind league leaders Arsenal. As far as the Champions League is concerned, they won each of their group games to finish at the very top before facing Copenhagen in the Round of 16.

It was a walk in the park for Pep Guardiola’s team as they won 6-2 on aggregate to make it to the quarter-finals. Since dropping points against Arsenal, they have won back-to-back games by scoring four goals and will look to go hard against Los Blancos. Meanwhile, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams and tries to predict the tactics they could put to use.

Team News & Tactics

Real Madrid

Thibaut Courtois and David Alaba still remain on the sidelines for Los Blancos. Dani Ceballos is back training with the group, so he should be available for selection. While Eder Militao is back in action, he is unlikely to start here.

Carlo Ancelotti will stick to the 4-4-2 formation, and Andriy Lunin will continue in goal. While Nacho is available, we might still see Aurelien Tchouameni feature as one of the centre-back alongside Antonio Rudiger to keep Erling Haaland in check.

Dani Carvajal, who has been in sensational form will take charge as the right-back, while Ferland Mendy will feature on the left. The duo will provide the much-needed support to the Real Madrid centre-backs against Manchester CIty.

Toni Kroos should feature as the holding midfielder, and he will have the support of Eduardo Camavinga and Federico Valverde who start on either side. Meanwhile, Jude Bellingham, who has been in sensational form since the start of the season, will be the attacking midfielder.

In attack, we will see the Brazilian duo of Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo pair up. While they will start as the two strikers, expect them to drift wide and Bellingham to jump in as a false nine on occasions.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Lunin; Carvajal, Rudiger, Tchouameni, Mendy; Valverde, Kroos, Camavinga; Bellingham; Rodrygo, Vinicius Jr

Real Madrid vs Manchester City Predicted XI

Manchester City

The biggest headache for Pep Guardiola at this stage is the fitness of Kyle Walker, given his importance in the team. Walker is the one who can challenge Vinicius Junior on the flanks with his speed and without him, they will surely have a lot of trouble.

The doctors have ruled him out from the first leg, but he is still pushing to make it back in time. But, that is unlikely to happen. Meanwhile, Nathan Ake is unavailable and Josko Gvardiol, who picked up a knock in their last outing, should be available for selection. If he fails the late fitness test, Manuel Akanji will take his place as the left-back.

Ederson Moraes, Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden are back fit after recent struggles and should start in this fixture. Guardiola’s team could line up in a 4-3-3, where Ederson will take charge in goal. Rico Lewis and Akanji will be the full-backs, while John Stones and Ruben Dias will feature in the heart of the defence.

Rodri will be the holding midfielder, while Silva and Kevin De Bruyne will be in support in the centre of the park. Phil Foden and Jeremy Doku will provide the width to their attacks, while Erling Haaland will be leading the line.

If Manchester City dominate the majority of the ball, they could shift into a 3-2-4-1 with Lewis joining Rodri to form a double pivot in the centre of the park in front of the back three. It will allow Silva and De Bruyne to push further up the pitch.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Lewis, Stones, Dias, Akanji; Silva, Rodri, De Bruyne; Doku, Haaland, Foden

Real Madrid vs Manchester City Predicted XI

Key Stats

  • The two teams have squared up against each other on ten occasions with City winning four and Madrid winning three.
  • Real Madrid have hosted Manchester City in the knockout rounds on four occasions, they have lost once, drawn once and won twice.
  • Last time when the two teams met in the semi-finals, Manchester City came out on top with an aggregate score of 5-1.
  • In the last five matches between the two teams, the visitors have won three while the home team only has one win.
  • Manchester City won their first-ever UEFA Champions League title last season while their opponents have won it a record 14 times.

Player to Watch

Vinicius Junior

Embed from Getty Images

Vinicius Junior has been a standout performer for Real Madrid over the past few seasons, and they will hope their number ‘7’ stands up and delivers in this huge clash. With Kyle Walker out injured, Ancelotti will hope he can exploit the left flank and create chances so that they can take a lead with them when they travel to Manchester. The Brazilian has 26 goal contributions this season, and he will be eager to add to it.


Real Madrid 2-1 Manchester City

Given the kind of performances Manchester City put up when the two teams last met at the Etihad, one would think that they have the upper hand heading into this one. But, a lot has changed in both teams since then.

Manchester City are not as dominant as they were last season, and Real Madrid have been playing with an entirely different system where their summer signing Jude Bellingham is the focus point along with the Brazilian duo of Vinicius and Rodrygo. While it will be a close game, Real Madrid might just end up creating more chances than Manchester City on their home turf. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for the team in white in the first leg.

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