Real Madrid host Man City at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu on Wednesday night in the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg. Los Blancos were outplayed for the majority of the first leg but escaped with just a 4-3 defeat and will have real optimism of turning the tie around at home, as they did against PSG and Chelsea. City are chasing a first-ever Champions League crown with Guardiola going for his first win in this competition since 2011.
Real Madrid Form
Real secured the league title this weekend under Carlo Ancelotti, his first in La Liga. Since losing 1-0 to PSG in February, the side have played 14 matches with 11 wins and three losses. Their defeats during this period were 4-0 to Barcelona at home, 3-2 to Chelsea at home, and the first leg 4-3 loss at Man City.
Having beaten PSG 3-1 in the round of the 16-second leg to progress, they came back from 3-0 down at home to progress against Chelsea after it ended 3-2. Despite being outplayed for most of both ties, they always find a way to grind out a Benzema-inspired result. In La Liga, they have won five matches in a row and thrashed Espanyol 4-0 over the weekend despite mass changes to the XI.
Real Madrid Team News
The big call for Ancelotti is whether he recalls Casemiro on the side and if he does, whether Fede Valverde plays on the right with Rodrygo dropped. The latter got a brace over the weekend but could find himself on the bench. David Alaba went off injured in the first leg but could be risked for this one anyway.
Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale are out injured but Luka Jovic is back to give another option. Karim Benzema, Vinicius Jr, Toni Kroos, and Ferland Mendy were all left out of the starting XI for the last match to keep them fit and fresh for this one. Eder Militao and Nacho also got weekend rests due to La Liga suspensions.
Real Madrid Motivation
Madrid have sewn up the La Liga title and all focus is on this match. This competition is the pinnacle for Los Blancos every season and motivation will be huge to reach the final.
They need to win but can’t open up too much or City will expose their defence. Don’t be shocked to see them mount a late comeback in the second half as is so often the case.
Man City Form
City are in very good form. Only Liverpool have beaten them in the last 27 matches and that was with a depleted and fatigued side. They cruised through the round of 16 as they won 5-0 at Sporting Lisbon before drawing 0-0 at home with the tie already over. They beat Atletico 1-0 on aggregate in the quarter-final, fighting hard for a 0-0 away draw in Spain.
After losing that FA Cup semi-final to Liverpool, City have won four in a row. They beat Brighton 3-0 at home, thrashed Watford 5-1, and battered Real Madrid only to take just a 4-3 victory despite the Expected Goals reading 2.8 to just 0.7 for the Spanish giants. This weekend, City won 4-0 at Leeds.
Man City Team News
Guardiola again has a defensive conundrum for this match. Joao Cancelo is back to play at fullback and he will be on the right if Kyle Walker isn’t fit enough to feature after injury. John Stones and Nathan Ake are major doubts. If both Walker and Ake are absent, then Oleksandr Zinchenko will play at left-back.
City rested Kevin de Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva at Leeds and all three will start. Gabriel Jesus will keep his place in the XI, likely as the number nine unless he moves wide and Phil Foden is used as a false nine.
Man City Motivation
Man City are desperate to win this trophy, as is Guardiola. They would probably give up the Premier League crown to take this one and rested players at Leeds to have them fresh here.
City will play to win and to attack but they showed against Atletico Madrid that they can spoil and defend in numbers to get through the tie. They simply can’t be as open as they were at home where they should probably have won the first leg by a margin of three or more goals.
Real Madrid have lost 2 of their last 4 home matches, leaking 7 goals
Real Madrid have scored in their last 16 home CL matches
Real Madrid have won 7 of their last 10 home CL matches (2 defeats in the last 5)
Real’s Benzema has scored 18 goals in his last 13 matches
City are 14 away matches unbeaten in all comps (W11, D3)
Man City have lost 2 of their last 5 away CL matches
Man City have won 3 matches in a row vs Real Madrid
City have progressed from 9 of their last 10 CL KO ties having won the first leg
Another cracking match awaits here. Both teams should score at least once, if not more. You can never write off Real Madrid but City should have enough quality to reach the final. Check the Man City line-up to see how strong, or weak, their backline is looking before kick-off.
Best Bet: Man City to win at 2.10
Alternative Bet: Over 3.5 goals at 2.15
Alternative Bet: Man City win/draw double chance and over 2.5 goals at 2.15
Goalscorer tip: Benzema and Gabriel Jesus to both score anytime at 5.48