Soccer Champions League - Play-Offs Prediction
Real Madrid vs Manchester City - Match Preview
⚽ 9 May 2023 - 19:00 GMT +0
As Real Madrid goes in search of defending their UEFA Champions League (UCL) crown, a semi-final draw against Manchester City perhaps poses the biggest threat yet to their status as champions. These two European behemoths met in identical circumstances at the semi-final stage last season, and while it was Madrid who came out on top then, the Spaniards’ indifferent form across their last four games in all competitions (W2, L2) makes them hard to predict.
They ought to be confident after lifting the Copa del Rey on Saturday thanks to a 2-1 victory over Osasuna, their third trophy won already this term after the European Super Cup and Club World Cup earlier in the season. Adding a 15th UCL/European Cup is now the ultimate goal, and they look well placed to inch one step closer to doing so if they can further improve an already impressive record of winning 13 of their last 16 European home games (D1, L2).
For Manchester City, this season has a ‘now or never’ feel to it in their seemingly never-ending quest for a maiden UCL title, and with a free-scoring Erling Haaland in tow, this does appear to be City’s best chance to date. They managed to win without his goals on Saturday, though it wasn’t their best performance of the season as they edged past Leeds 2-1 in Premier League action to maintain their lead at the top of the Premier League.
Focus will quickly switch back to Europe, but having been dumped out of the UCL by Real Madrid in two of their last three semi-final appearances, there are still psychological obstacles to overcome. Those same obstacles stand for boss Pep Guardiola too, who, despite winning the UCL twice as a manager, has interestingly seen the side he’s in charge of dumped out at the semi-finals in six of his last nine UCL semi-final conquests.
📋 Players to watch: So often Real’s source of UCL inspiration, Vinícius Júnior has seen nine of his last ten goals in the competition arrive before the hour mark. He may have the unenviable task of trying to outscore Haaland, who averages a goal every 58 minutes in UCL action, the best of any player to have scored at least five goals in the history of the competition.
⚡ Hot streak: Manchester City’s last four UCL away games have ended as draws.
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