Pep Guardiola gets another crack at his old nemesis in the Champions League as Man City host Real Madrid in the semifinals of this year’s European club competition. The Spaniard has owned his old La Liga rivals throughout history, and coming into this semifinal meeting, Man City enter as the heavy favorites and Guardiola has an eye on the top prize.
City toppled Atletico Madrid last time out in their attempts to reach a second final in quick succession, although this will be a different proposition entirely.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side, as they proved against Chelsea, simply know how to produce big moments on the biggest stage. They may not always convince, but Madrid boast the kind of star quality to hurt any team in the world.
Form Guide: Manchester City
Manchester City are currently at the top of the Premier League standings and have thrived under Pep Guardiola so far this season. The Cityzens thrashed Watford by a comfortable 5-1 margin in their previous game and will look to be just as ruthless when they face Europe’s most successful team this week.
A goalless draw in the Spanish capital was enough for Man City to progress to the semi-finals for the second season running, but the game was marred by unsavory scenes at the end, with the La Liga champions not covering themselves in glory in the tunnel after the game.
Nevertheless, City got the job done on the pitch before their treble hopes were dashed by Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-finals, but their customary thumping of Watford – with Gabriel Jesus scoring four – keeps their dreams of a domestic and continental double very much alive.
Form Guide: Real Madrid
Real Madrid are also at the top of their league table at the moment and have enjoyed steady progress under Carlo Ancelotti this year. Los Blancos eased past Osasuna with a comfortable 3-1 victory over the weekend and will be confident ahead of this fixture.
Los Blancos enter the first leg on a six-game winning streak away from home across all competitions – scoring three goals in each of their last three on rival turf – but no side has ever won away from home against two separate English teams during the knockout rounds of a single Champions League tournament.
Real Madrid won their last Champions League tie, beating Chelsea 5-4 on aggregate in the quarter-finals. They earned a two-goal lead in the tie after the first leg, large enough to withstand a 3-2 extra-time defeat in the return match at home.
How the match could go
Real Madrid have a fairly impressive overall record against Manchester City and have won five out of eight matches played between the two teams, as opposed to Manchester City’s three victories.
Manchester City have a flawless recent record against Los Blancos and won both legs of their previous UEFA Champions League clash in 2020 by an aggregate 4-2 margin.
Real Madrid are winless in their last three matches against Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League and will need to be at their best in this fixture.
Defensive uncertainties and absentees on both sides should have both revered managers feeling confident about gleaning the first-leg advantage at the Etihad, with Benzema and Vinicius capable of plucking goals out of nowhere for the visitors.
City to Win
Manchester City come into this match off the back of a crushing victory in the Premier League. Real Madrid have not looked all that convincing this campaign with both wins throughout the knockout stages coming from lapses in defenses from their opponents. They won’t get such luck from this Man City side and, especially at the Etihad, it’s hard to see anything but a City win. The Citizens have won the last three meetings between the sides too. Bet9ja have 1.48 odds, while 1xbet have 1.50, and Paripesa have 1.50 odds.
Both teams to score (YES)
These two teams score lots of goals and consequently play very open games.
Real Madrid have seen both teams score in five of their last six matches across all competitions. Manchester City have been a little more stout defensively, but still, all their recent clean sheets came against the likes of Atletico Madrid, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Peterborough, and Everton. City have a habit of conceding goals in games against teams with more threatening attacks. Bet9ja have 1.82 odds, while Paripesa have 1.91 and 1xbet have 1.91 odds.
Anytime Goalscorer (Real Madrid)
We might back Man City to win this match but it’s hard to envisage them doing so with a clean sheet when Real Madrid are banging in goals; they’ve got 13 in their last five including five in two Champions League games against Chelsea. Of those five Champions League goals, Karim Benzema scored four of them. Bear in mind he hit a hat-trick against PSG before that and it’d be wrong not to cover him to score at some point here. Bet9ja have 3.50 odds for him to score while Paripesa have 3.10 odds for him to score.
The young Brazilian has had a stellar season also scoring goals when the team needs and seems to be the very likely threat when Benzema is not having his day in the sun. He has scored just the two goals in the Champions League campaign and he can equal last season’s goal record with a goal here today for his side. Bet9ja have 5.50 odds for him to score while Paripesa have 4.50 odds for him to score.
Anytime Goalscorer (Manchester City)
Kevin de Bruyne
In the 2020 Champions League meetings between these two clubs, de Bruyne was sensational in both legs, picking up a goal and an assist in the decisive away leg. The Belgian truly can do it all and we are backing him to find the back of the net here today for his side. He scored his side’s only goal that saw them go past a very Defensive Atletico Madrid last time out. Bet9ja have 3.40 odds for him to score while Paripesa have 2.60 odds for him to score.
Despite the headache to be faced by the manager on who to start up top, Gabriel Jesus should get the nod after his perfect showing against Watford. He also has three goals in this season’s campaign and looks the most likely to find the back of the net among the top three as he is in scintillating form at the moment. Bet9ja have 3.25 odds for him to score while Paripesa have 2.40 odds for him to score.
Football Lover. All-round junkie of the beautiful game. Could be found watching football most of the time. If not he’s writing about them or making some punditry you don’t agree with. A certain bias for Arsenal and Santos FC.