Preview and Prediction
Real Madrid has accomplished their mission in La Liga by ending their archrival domination in the past two seasons and clinching the title. Their next focus will be in the Champions League. After a huge blow last season, Zidane’s return has given a real impact to their confidence and of course, performance, despite without Cristiano Ronaldo any longer and the proper replacement yet. This midweek will be the beginning of their effort to prove that Los Blancos is still the elite team in Europe. Their task to do so, however, is not hard but intriguing as they will be facing off Manchester City, which had their advantage from the first leg.
The teams’ previous matches
The Citizens ended their campaign in Premier League this season with a big win over Norwich City. Pep Guardiola’s men smashed them 5-0. Gabi Jesus’s, Raheem Sterling’s, Riyad Mahrez’s goals and Kevin de Bryune’s brace were the ones which made the difference on the pitch.
Sergio Ramos and Co, on the other hand, were held in a 2-2 draw by Leganes, which was fighting for their life for staying in the top flight. Unfortunately, they failed. Real Madrid took the lead by Sergio Ramos’s header but Bryan Gil could equalise. Then, at the second half, Marco Asencio put Los Blancos back on the front. Yet, Roger Assale levelled it again. It was not a vital game for the visitors as they have been officially crowned as La Liga Champions before.
Pep Guardiola might be deploying 4-3-1-2 or 4-2-2-2 when necessary to stun Madrid. The injury of Sergio Aguero and Benjamin Mendy’s suspension will be covered by Gabi Jesus, who is likely accompanied by Raheem Sterling upfront, and Olexander Zichenko or Joao Cancelo on the left side of their defense line. Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva or Bernardo Silva plus Ilkay Gundogan will be in the midfield to support Rodrigo.
His counterpart, Zinedine Zidane is likely to employ 4-3-3 with the transition to 4-3-2-1. Karim Benzema will still be the main frontman supported by Eden Hazard and Rodrygo or Vinicius Junior, who could also play wide. The major blow for Madrid would be the absence of their captain, Sergio Ramos and Marcelo. Eder Militao is one option beside pulling back Casemiro as the centre defender, while on the left, Ferland Mendy can take over the Brazilian wing back’s post.
Players to watch
Kevin de Bruyne will be the key man in this game as he did at the first leg. This season the Belgian international has scored 14 goals and provided 22 assists in Premier League and UCL. Another notable figure to watch is the German defensive midfielder, Ilkay Gundogan who has only netted 4 goals and made two assists.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid is relying on the Frenchman Karim Benzema to score. He is expected to be the deadly predator here as he did in La Liga this season with 21 goals and eight assists. Should he be unable to break the deadlock, Marco Asencio is a notable back up. He excels at acceleration, pace and creativity.
Manchester City vs Madrid Prediction
This is inevitable a battle of two sides of Belgian stars, Thibault Cortois and Eden Hazard from the visitors and Kevin de Bruyne from The Citizens. The key for Los Blancos to pick up a victory with two-goal difference in this fixture is to score first immediately to give more pressure on the home side. Such could lead their opponent to make mistakes.
The Citizens are still regarded as the favourite by the punters. They are backed to win at 1.72, whereas the odds for a tie result are at 4.40. Meanwhile, Zidane’s men are projected to win at 4.35.