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The knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League fixtures are tonight and a lot of entertainment is expected as we should see some feisty encounters coming into this one.
Real Madrid have been struggling defensively overall when they face tougher opposition who have attacking lineups like Wolfsburg, Atletico Madrid, Bilbao, Barcelona, Valencia, Villarreal to name a few. Manchester City had a few good opportunities to put the game to bed, but unfortunately were not able to do so in front of their home fans.
Attention turn to the Bernabeau where Real Madrid have typically done well this season winning 14 out of their last 15 games at home, while keeping 5 clean sheets in their last 5 at home as well. Madrid however have an extremely volatile defence with Ramos and Pepe at the back as either one of them can lose concentration and go into the game with some wild tackles, which often sees them getting booked in many times. Roma was a great example of a team that took the attack to them in Madrid, but were let down by some poor finishing from Dzeko. Up front Real Madrid should have their talisman Ronaldo back, but Benzema and Casemiro will be miss out. This will force Madrid to move to a 4-3-3 formation, which will help them really well on the offensive end, but could potentially leave spaces in the midfield for City to exploit. Ronaldo might have some match practice opportunity, having not played few over 10 days, but he will look to his team mates and in particular Gareth Bale to support him well through this game.
Manchester City know they have a simple job, get a score draw, and they are through to the next round. They will look to find that first goal and then sit back on the lead and break on the counter attack when he opportunities arises. Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne were well rested for the weekend, and one can expect them to get back into the lineup to bolster the attack. Aguero in particular will be relishing this opportunity to show to the rest of the world that he is indeed a player that is just beyond the Premier League. De Bruyne is their leading scorer for the competition and provided 1 goal in each leg of the quarter final against PSG to lead them to this stage.They will be assisted by Navas and Sterling up front, and with them present, you can expect them to drive to the wing with pace and get some corners and set pieces that can out do their opponents. Defensively is the problem where Manchester City have struggled the entire season. This weekend they were schooled by Southampton who beat them by a score of 4-2; which didn’t bode well coming into this game considering the backline and defensive midfield will have many of the same components. City have struggled under pressure away from home, conceding goals in 3 out of their last 4 games including all 5 away games they have played in the Champions league so far.
This should be an exciting encounter with both teams looking to put on the pressure and take that early goal advantage, but since its the semi-finals of the Champions League, you expect both teams to go hard at this and I expect both to score.