UCL Preview: Real Madrid vs Manchester City

UCL Preview: Real Madrid vs Manchester City

Wednesday marks the return of one of the football season’s most anticipated ties as newly crowned La Liga champions Real Madrid welcome reigning Premier League champions Manchester City to the Santiago Bernabeu for the second leg of their tumultuous Champions League semi-final.

Fans from across the globe will be desperate to watch this match, especially after the excitement of the first leg. Some may opt for Hesgoal football but there are plenty of other live streaming and television options for fans to use, no matter where they are.

The reverse fixture between these two last week served up one of the greatest Champions League matches of all time as Man City ran out 4-3 winners at the Etihad Stadium. The roles will be reversed in the second leg with Madrid hoping to make the most of a raucous home crowd advantage.

As UEFA have done away with the away goals rule this season, this fixture is wide open with the possibility of extra time and penalties in the mix, something always popular among neutral fans. Those watching at home will also be hoping for another glutton of goals from two of the most explosive attacks in the sport.

Will the coaches change tact for the second leg?

There is no reason to believe that this game will be any less frantic than the first. Both Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola’s sides like to play on the front foot and neither is really comfortable sitting deep and defending a lead. There’s no guarantee that the forwards will be as potent and clinical this time around so we may not see another seven goals but several big chances are expected at both ends.

Having uncharacteristically conceded three goals at home, Man City will be overjoyed at the lack of an away goals rule in this contest. Now they know that even if they lose by one goal, they will make it to extra time. Under the old rules, they would need to win this second match or at least draw to ensure their safety, knowing that a draw overall would almost certainly lead to a Madrid victory on aggregate.

As both teams go toe-to-toe in attack, any chance in shape or tactics will likely be a forced one due to injuries or suspensions.

Team News: Real Madrid vs Man City

Real Madrid will mostly have a clean bill of health but does have one reason to be alarmed. It has been confirmed that Carlo Ancelotti will be without centre back David Alaba, who will join Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard and Luka Jovic on the sidelines. Apart from that change at centre back, Madrid will probably line up in the same way they did in Manchester, but with one huge boost – the returning Casemiro in midfield. The inclusion of the Brazilian may well help Los Blancos win the ball more often in the middle of the park and keep hold of it. Ancelotti is unlikely to change much in the way of tactics but they may be more effective this time.

Pep Guardiola, on the other hand, has to contend with a late-season injury crisis in defence. Kyle Walker, Nathan Ake and John Stones may all miss this clash through injury. Fortunately for the Spaniard, he is blessed with an extremely deep squad and this shouldn’t trouble him too much. The only issue will be that Oleksandr Zinchenko will need to start at left-back against a dangerous front three when you have to believe that Pep would prefer to have Cancelo on his side and Walker at right-back. All is well in the attacking third of the pitch for City.

One other factor worth considering is the City boss’ penchant for shooting himself in the foot with bizarre tactical changes at the final hurdle in the Champions League. With the Premier League champions two games away from winning their first-ever major European trophy, will Pep freak out and opt for a back three out of nowhere or start Fernandinho upfront? We have to wait to find out.

Final Thoughts

This should be a hotly contested encounter between two of the best teams in European football. City is expected to push forward in search of more goals as this is the only way they know how to play. Starting the game one goal down and with no away goals rule to fall back on, Ancelotti’s men will be forced to do the same.

If Madrid manages to snatch one or two goals without reply, we could see a rearguard action from the home side, but barring that, there should be fireworks from start to finish in what is certainly the most fascinating of the two semi-finals in this season’s UEFA Champions League.