Man City know that victory at home to Real Madrid on Wednesday (7.45 GMT, live on Sky Sports) is vital if they are to maintain their incredibly faint hopes of reaching the Champions League knockout stages.
It has been a disastrous Champions League campaign for the Citizens, who find themselves propping up Group D with just two points from four matches. Borussia Dortmund lead the way on eight, Real Madrid are a point further back, and Ajax are currently in third with four points to their credit.
City have to win both of their remaining matches – the second of which is away to Borussia Dortmund – to have any hope of reaching the last 16. Even if they do, they would require Ajax to beat Borussia Dortmund or draw with Real Madrid in order to progress. If Ajax achieved both those results all teams would be tied on eight points and goal difference would decide which two progress to the knockout stages.
City’s immediate concern is beating Real Madrid, a task they came mighty close to achieving in the first meeting between the sides back in September. City led 2-1 with three minutes remaining, only for Karim Benzema to equalise and then, in stoppage time, for Cristiano Ronaldo to score a dramatic late winner for the Spanish champions.
In truth it would have been highly fortuitous if City had emerged victorious, as Madrid dominated possession and had 17 shots on target to City’s five. Madrid were also not in their best shape at that stage of the season, having lost two of their opening four matches of the domestic campaign and had their commitment and desire questioned by coach Jose Mourinho.
The Madrid side that arrive in Manchester for the return match on Wednesday are in much higher spirits, having secured five consecutive victories in La Liga, including Saturday’s 5-1 thumping of Athletic Bilbao. They may have gained just one point from the recent Champions League double header with Borussia Dortmund, but will not be overly concerned, needing as they do just two points from their final two matches to progress.
Cristiano Ronaldo was, surprisingly, not among Madrid’s scorers on Saturday, but has generally been in electric form so far this season, scoring 12 in 12 domestic matches and five in four Champions League outings. He will be determined to get on the scoresheet on Wednesday in what will be his first return to Manchester since leaving City’s local rivals United in 2009.
Roberto Mancini’s Sky Blues also flexed their offensive clout at the weekend, smashing five past Aston Villa at the Etihad to leapfrog United into top spot in the Premier League. Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero each scored a brace, with David Silva, another of City’s pint-sized assassins, getting the other goal.
It was one of the first times this season City have reached the heights of some of their performances in last season’s title winning campaign. Europe has thus far proved to be a bridge too far, but if their forward line are on form they will certainly have a chance of scoring against a less than watertight Madrid defence.
City have drawn both of their home matches in the Champions League this season and are undefeated at home (not including extra time) since the 11th January this year.
There are doubts over the fitness of left-back Gael Clichy, but Mancini otherwise has no new injury concerns ahead of Wednesday’s match. His opposite number Mourinho is waiting for progress reports on the fitness of Michael Essien, who missed the win over Athletic, and will definitely be without Gonzalo Higuain and Marcelo.
Man City v Real Madrid Betting Tips Verdict
City have to win and will therefore be compelled to take an offensive approach from the outset. Real Madrid have conceded in every one of their Champions League matches to date and against a home attack featuring the likes of Aguero and Silva appear likely to do so again.
Madrid are, though, deadly on the counter-attack, moving forward with pace and precision and it is hard to imagine them not getting on the scoresheet themselves.
It is difficult to call this match in either team’s favour. The odds for backing one or the other and the draw on the double chance market are not particularly attractive so we therefore suggest backing plenty of goals, sitting back and enjoying the action.
- Six of the eight Champions League matches involving these teams, including the meeting between them earlier in the group stage, have ended with four or more goals. Therefore, back over 3.5 goals @ best odds of 4/3 with Pinnacle.
- Back in Manchester, we fancy Ronaldo to get himself amongst the goals. Bet on Cristiano Ronaldo to score at anytime @ 11/10 with BetVictor.