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Real Madrid v Man City - Champions League: Big Game Preview

03 May 2022 10:20:51 EST
 Ancelotti's Real welcome City to the Bernabeu

The second leg of Real Madrid versus Manchester City in the Champions League takes place on Wednesday, and if it's even half as good as the first encounter then it will be a match to savour.

City lead the tie 4-3 after a breathtaking battle last week with Madrid still in with a shout despite being largely outplayed.

It was City who started like a house on fire with Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus scoring within the first 11 minutes.

Karim Benzema made it 2-1 before half-time before Phil Foden restored the two-goal cushion - only for City to be immediately pegged back thanks to Vinicius Junior.

The hosts went 4-2 up through Bernardo Silva but Benzema's penalty means the tie is in the balance.

Currently, City are 1.16 to advance through to the final, with Real available at 5.00.

Can the second leg live up to the first?

Even if the first leg was a damp squib, there would be lots of anticipation heading into this game, but it seems even more mouth-watering given what happened last time between the two sides.

Pep Guardiola's City can often look at their most chaotic during the biggest of games but in attack, they were absolutely devastating.

Realistically, they should have come away from the match at least three goals ahead and it remains to be seen whether or not they will rue those missed opportunities.

Real certainly have plenty of firepower and in Benzema, they have a player who is at the absolute peak of his powers.

Having spent so many years in the shadows of Cristiano Ronaldo and, to a lesser extent Gareth Bale, the Frenchman has relished being the main man in Madrid over the last couple of years and his goalscoring record suggests that of a man who could not be feeling any more confident.

With the likes of Vinicius Jr, Luka Modric, and Toni Kroos in support, both sides look set to be firing.

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Title confidence to boost Los Blancos

This weekend, Real reclaimed the La Liga title, securing success with a 4-0 thumping of Espanyol.

In truth, winning the league always looked on the cards due to Barcelona's early-season problems and Atletico Madrid's inconsistencies this term.

It means Carlo Ancelotti became the first manager to win each of the top five leagues in Europe - a truly phenomenal feat from the timeless Italian.

That will surely boost the belief in the Madrid ranks that they can get through to the final having got that task out of the way.

By contrast, City's title chase looks as though it will be going down to the final day, and there is that unshakeable feeling that they will be focussing a tiny part on beating Liverpool in the Premier League as well as in Europe.

Consequently, Real may have the advantage in terms of their mentality heading into Wednesday's game.

How will Guardiola line up?

Guardiola has developed a reputation for rotating his team during his spell as Manchester City boss and it is highly likely he will shuffle his pack once again following their weekend 4-0 win against Leeds in the Premier League.

The likes of De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez and Silva were all left on the bench for the Leeds game with only the latter getting a cameo off the bench.

It was a true display of just how phenomenal City's squad is - the fact they can make five or six changes per week and not be significantly weakened is almost unique to them.

Guardiola is likely to go back to a more first-choice XI though he does still have some questions to answer

Will Jesus continue in the side after his recent burst of scoring form? Since being linked with a move to Arsenal, the Brazilian has exploded into life, scoring six goals in his last three games.

Will Kyle Walker be fit to play at right-back? John Stones started last week's match in a less familiar position but had to be brought off in the first half meaning 36-year-old Fernandinho had to cover for a large chunk of the game.

In the forward areas, Guardiola has so many options that he can almost spring something of a surprise in whatever he chooses to do with his team selection.

Will Liverpool have an effect?

If Liverpool, as expected, get past Villarreal in the second leg of their Champions League tie, then could that have an effect on Manchester City?

They will be desperate to win the biggest prize in club football but beating Liverpool might feel more symbolic for Guardiola given the debate that has emerged on who is the superior manager - him or Jurgen Klopp?

Liverpool getting through to the final might just motivate the Blues even more - another opportunity to get one over on the Reds, particularly after they were blown away by the Merseyside outfit in the first-half of their FA Cup semi-final.

A potential final between the two Premier League title protagonists would be utterly box-office, though Real will do their best to stop City en route to a potential 14th European crown.

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