Man City vs Real Madrid (Agg: 2-1)
Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Friday, 07-08-2020 @10pm
Ref: Felix Brych (Germany)
The first leg saw Manchester City pick up a crucial 2-1 win over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne finding the back of the net after Isco had put the hosts in front.
The Cityzens head into the game on the back of a strong finish to the Premier League season, beating Norwich City 5-0 on the final day.
Madrid were also in fine nick post-lockdown and went on an eleven-game unbeaten run to lift the La Liga title after three years.
Their last league game of the campaign saw them being held to a 2-2 draw by minnows Leganes, but Zinedine Zidane’s side have been resilient over the past couple of months and will back themselves to overturn the first leg deficit.
City do not have any fresh injury concerns heading into the game on Friday night. However, they will once again be without the services of star striker Sergio Aguero while Benjamin Mendy is suspended for the game due to accumulation of yellow cards.
Pep Guardiola fielded an unorthodox lineup in the first leg that saw Kevin De Bruyne operate as a false nine. However, he is expected to revert to his favoured 4-3-3 on Friday night, with Ederson Moraes starting in goal. Kyle Walker is a certainty at right-back while Olesandr Zinchenko should feature on the left in Mendy’s absence.
Aymeric Laporte is another guaranteed presence in the Manchester City defence for the home side. He is likely to be partnered by seasoned campaigner Fernandinho at the heart of the back-line, although youngster Eric Garcia, who is linked with Barcelona , is also an option. Rodri should slot in as the deepest of the three midfielders, with Ilkay Gundogan providing him support. De Bruyne will occupy the third midfield slot for the hosts and will be the creator-in-chief, as they look to dump Real Madrid out of the competition.
Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling are the obvious options in the wide areas, although the manager could consider Phil Foden, who has impressed every time he has been on the field. Gabriel Jesus should be the man spearheading the Manchester City attack in Aguero’s absence.
The big blow for the La Liga champions is that captain and talisman Sergio Ramos is suspended for the game after being sent off in the first leg. He has still travelled to Manchester with the rest of the squad that sees Eden Hazard return after missing the last few league games. But, Gareth Bale has been left behind in Spain by Zidane.
Madrid are likely to mirror Manchester City’s 4-3-3 formation on Friday night, with Thibaut Courtois, who won the Zamora Trophy, slotting in between the posts.
In Ramos’s absence, Eder Militao is expected to start at the heart of the Real Madrid defence alongside Raphael Varane. Dani Carvajal is a certainty in the right-back slot, while Ferland Mendy is expected to get the nod over Marcelo at left-back, in order to cope with the threat posed by Riyad Mahrez.
Casemiro is one of the first names on the team sheet for Real Madrid and he will anchor the midfield, looking to curtail the influence of De Bruyne on the night. Toni Kroos will be tasked with providing the creative outlet, while Luka Modric is likely to get the nod over Federico Valverde in the third slot in the centre of the pitch.
The fit-again Hazard should get the nod on the left wing, from where he will look to link up with star striker Karim Benzema and cause problems to the Manchester City back-line. Rodrygo Goes could get the nod on the right over the likes of Vinicius Junior, Isco and Marco Asensio.
This is the third Champions League meeting between Manchester City and Real Madrid at the Etihad; the previous two ended as draws (1-1 in 2012-13 group stage, 0-0 in 2015-16 semi-final first leg). Real Madrid have won five of their 11 away Champions League games in England (W5 D3 L3), beating four different teams (Man Utd, Leeds United, Liverpool and Spurs). The only two teams to win away at five different English teams in the Champions League are Bayern Munich (5) and Barcelona (7). In major UEFA European competition, Manchester City have progressed from all seven of their previous knockout ties when winning the first leg away from home. Real Madrid are looking to overturn a first leg deficit in a Champions League knockout tie for the first time since the 2015-16 quarter-final against Wolfsburg, progressing from that tie (0-2 first leg, 3-0 second leg). They have never overturned a deficit after losing the first leg at home in four previous instances. Man City manager Pep Guardiola has won 28 Champions League knockout matches, more than any other manager in the competition’s history. Guardiola is looking to become the third manager to eliminate Real Madrid in the knockout stage more than once, along with Marcello Lippi (1995-96, 2002-03) and Ottmar Hitzfeld (2000-01, 2006-07).
The other Champions League game on Friday
-Juventus vs Olympique Lyon @10pm
Saturday’s Champions League fixtures
-Barcelona vs Napoli @10pm
-Bayern Munich vs Chelsea @10pm