After being treated to an absolute spectacle of a first leg, recently crowned La Liga champions Real Madrid take on Premier League leaders Manchester City for a place in the Champions League final.
Pep Guardiola’s side will feel somewhat aggrieved to only take a one-goal advantage into the second leg, knowing full well that European heavyweights Real Madrid are capable of overturning deficits in the knockout stages.
On the balance of play, Real Madrid were fortunate to come out of their first leg clash at the Etihad with a fighting chance of progressing to the final.
Karim Benzema continued his imperious form by notching a brilliant brace. His first goal, an instinctive first time volley, was nothing more than a half chance for most strikers. His second, a truly stunning panenka to bounce back from two penalty misses in the match prior against Osasuna.
Vinicius Junior, another player enjoying a sparkling season with Los Blancos, scored a fine individual goal after getting the better of Fernandinho on the halfway line and utilising his blistering pace in an emphatic solo effort.
Real Madrid may have overturned a one-goal deficit against early tournament favourites PSG to progress from the last-16, however, the capital outfit have never reached the final after losing the first leg of a semi-final.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side, fresh off the back of a 35th La Liga title, will enter the clash with optimism despite their defeat to last season’s European champions Chelsea in their last Bernabeu clash against English opposition. While the defeat proved insignificant to Real’s eventual qualification, they will need to put in a performance of significantly higher quality if they are to overcome Guardiola’s side.
Real Madrid hit Espanyol for four without response last time out and will need to score at least one unanswered goal against Man City to force extra time.
Madridista’s will be hoping the players haven’t celebrated their league triumph too much as they come up against one of the best sides in Europe.
Ancelotti will be without David Alaba who was withdrawn at half-time at the Etihad following his original return from injury. Eden Hazard, Gareth Bale and Luka Jovic also missed the win over Espanyol and remain doubts.
Real Madrid Predicted Team:
Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Fernandez, Mendy; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Rodrygo, Benzema, Vinicius Jr
Manchester City could have been out of sight in the first leg after wasting a number of guilt-edged opportunities, particularly in the first half.
In an identical scoreline to their opponents’ last league outing, Guardiola’s side struck four past relegation-threatened Leeds at Elland Road to reclaim top spot in the Premier League with just four games remaining.
The quartet of Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus, Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden all found the net in the first leg and will be looking to once again strike early to settle any nerves at the Bernabeu.
City have only failed to progress on one occasion in their last 10 knockout fixtures where they held a first leg lead back in Guardiola’s debut season, against Monaco.
The Citizens have scored a remarkable 16 goals in their last four games and are more likely to rely on their attacking prowess as opposed to the watertight defence we witnessed at Real’s city rivals Atletico Madrid.
Guardiola’s side are looking to become just the third team in history to win four consecutive matches against the record European title holders - Ajax and Bayern Munich are the only sides to previously achieve this. The second leg will need to be rather special to top the riveting 4-3 firecracker served up at the Etihad.
Joao Cancelo is expected to walk straight back into the starting XI, while Kyle Walker could be set to miss the remainder of the season following the injury he sustained in the quarter-final.
Manchester City Predicted Team:
Ederson; Cancelo, Dias, Laporte, Zinchenko; Silva, Rodri, De Bruyne; Mahrez, Jesus, Foden
For live Champions League action, beIN SPORTS is the place to be!