Champions League – Manchester City v Real Madrid – Preview and Prediction

Manchester City play in the last four of the Champions League for the first time on Tuesday but find 10-time winners Real Madrid standing between them and a place in the final.

Manuel Pellegrini’s preference would have been to play the first leg of their tie with the Spanish side at the Bernabeu but must make do with a home match instead.

The teams’ only previous competitive meetings were in the group stage of the 2012/13 competition, with City leading twice in the first game before losing 3-2 to a stoppage-time winner from Cristiano Ronaldo.
They fared better in the return fixture, coming back to draw 1-1 thanks to Sergio Aguero’s penalty after an opening goal from Karim Benzema.

Having won against Sevilla, Juventus, Borussia Monchengladbach, Dynamo Kiev and PSG this season, City have shown they are more streetwise in European ties than before.

Ominously for Manuel Pellegrini’s side, Real have won seven of the 11 knockout ties they have played against English teams.
For City to reach the final in Milan, they will have to beat a Spanish side over two games for the first time in nearly 50 years, having last achieved that against Athletic Bilbao in the 1969/70 season.

Pellegrini was in charge of Real for the 2009/10 campaign only to be sacked but said: “I don’t look back.

“I always prefer to think about what is happening now. It’s very important to reach the final because it reflects the work we are doing.”

For City to reach the final in Milan, they will have to beat a Spanish side over two games for the first time in nearly 50 years, having last achieved that against Athletic Bilbao in the 1969/70 season.

Pellegrini was in charge of Real for the 2009/10 campaign only to be sacked but said: “I don’t look back.

“I always prefer to think about what is happening now. It’s very important to reach the final because it reflects the work we are doing.”

Team news

City’s Yaya Toure is out of the match because of a thigh injury suffered during Saturday’s 4-0 defeat of Stoke in the Premier League.

The former Barcelona midfielder had only recently overcome a heel problem and while he had not been certain to start against the Spaniards, his absence is a setback.

Samir Nasri is the only other injured player in Pellegrini’s pool but he has not been registered to play in this stage of the competition so would have been missing even if he was fit.

City captain Vincent Kompany – another player who has had injury issues this season – should return along with his fellow Belgian Kevin De Bruyne after they were both rested at the weekend.

Opta stats

Real Madrid are unbeaten in their last eight games against English sides in the Champions League (W6 D2). The last English team to knock Real out in the competition were Liverpool in 2008/09 (5-0 on aggregate in the last 16).

Manchester City have only kept one clean sheet in their 10 Champions League games against Spanish opposition, a 3-0 away win against Villarreal in November 2011.

Six of Manchester City’s last nine shots on target in the Champions League have found the back of the net.

City have scored more goals in the final 15 minutes than any other team in the Champions League this season (7).

Pellegrini’s team are the only side left in the semi-finals who have averaged under 50% possession in the Champions League this season (48.6%).

Real Madrid have reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in each of the last six seasons, the longest current run. It’s also their 27th appearance in the final four of the Champions League and European Cup, more than any other team.

Real Madrid have won only one of their last four away games in the Champions League knockout stages (D1 L2) – against Roma in this season’s last 16.

Cristiano Ronaldo has scored or assisted 77% of Real Madrid’s goals in this season’s competition (20 out of 26). He’s only one goal away from the Champions League record for most goals in a Champions League campaign, a record he currently holds (17 in 2013/14).

Ronaldo has also scored exactly twice as many goals (16 to 8) and had exactly twice as many shots (82 to 41) as any other player in this season’s tournament.

Sergio Aguero has failed to score in his last three Champions League games, his longest drought in the competition since his run of five games without a goal between November 2011 and October 2012.