Would-be La Liga champions Real Madrid will visit the reigning kings of English football Manchester City for their Champions League semifinal first leg tie on Tuesday night.
The Citizens eliminated Real’s neighbours Atletico Madrid on their way to the semifinals.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid avenged their last season’s semifinal loss to Chelsea by knocking out the defending champions.
Manchester City gave Diego Simeone’s Atletico a taste of their own medicine as they sat deep in the second leg, allowing minimal scoring opportunities to Colchoneros.
A slender 1-0 lead City carried to the second leg was enough to ensure the semifinal tickets.
The match ended in a dreadful brawl between the two sides, but City remained standing in the Champions League.
Man City has been resilient
Following the Atletico match, Manchester City’s treble ambitions came to an end after crashing out of the FA Cup semifinals.
But, they have kept up the momentum in the league with two back to back wins against Brighton and Watford.
Despite Liverpool’s incredible form, City have held on to the Premier League top spot, with only five matches left to play.
Manchester City did not lose a European tie at home since Lyon came out on top of them in a group stage match back in 2018.
Man City have found the opposition net 13 times in their five home matches in the ongoing tournament. They are yet to concede a home goal in the knockout stages.
With Joao Cancelo suspended and Kyle Walker and John Stones racing against time to get fit ahead of the match, the hosts might find it challenging to retain the defensive resiliency they had exhibited in recent times.
Pep’s excellent record against Real Madrid
But, Man City boss Pep Guardiola will be in no short of confidence because of his excellent record against Real Madrid and their current manager.
If Man City progresses, Pep Guardiola will be the first manager in history to eliminate Real Madrid three times from the Champions League.
In his previous 19 meetings with the Madrid outfit, he won 11 times, drew four and only lost four times.
Guardiola boasts an even better head-to-head record against Carlo Ancelotti, having won against the Italian on four out of six occasions.
Real Madrid’s road to the semifinals was barely smooth.
They had to overcome a 1-0 deficit against Paris Saint-Germain in the Round-of-16 and then threw away a two-goal lead themselves in the quarterfinals.
Madrid won the first leg 3-1 against Chelsea, but the Blues bounced back in the second half and took the match to extra time. Thanks to an extra-time Karim Benzema goal, Madrid survived the scare.
Madrid have all but secured the La Liga trophy with a 3-1 win over Osasuna.
Ancelotti’s men will set their sights on the Champions League with the domestic title fight almost sorted out.
Real’s poor record against English clubs
Real have a six-match winning run to draw inspiration from, but their recent form against English teams will be a cause for concern.
Real Madrid have only one win in their last six encounters with Premier League clubs.
They also failed to win against Manchester City in their previous three meetings and have fresh memories of getting eliminated from the Champions League Round of 16 by City in the 2019/20 season.
Ancelotti will get to call back Eder Militao to the starting XI after the defender sat out the second Chelsea game because of suspension.
David Alaba joined Real’s piling list of injuries alongside Eden Hazard, Mariano Diaz, and Luka Jovic.
Modric did not play any minutes in the Osasuna game.
So, his fully rested legs should be ready for the Manchester trip.
Ferland Mendy could miss the game, and if he does, Marcelo will fill in at left-back.
Both teams will have some big name absentees in defence, making it likely to become a high-scoring game.
Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr can threaten any defensive setup in the world while City have enough ammunition in form of Phil Foden, Kevin de Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling, and Gabriel Jesus.
Home advantage and defensive superiority make City the favourites for this match.
We predict a 2-1 win for Manchester City.