Manchester City are set to square off at the Santiago Bernabeu for what should be an enthralling Champions League semi-final second leg against Real Madrid on Wednesday night.
In the first meeting, City edged a seven-goal thriller 4-3 at the Etihad, and it will allow them to head to Spain with at least some breathing room.
For Real, Karim Benzema’s brace either side of Vinicius Junior’s dazzling goal has kept the tie alive, while they’ve been boosted by officially securing their status as La Liga champions with four games to spare at the weekend.
Real have never made it through to the final when losing the first leg of a semi-final, but they will be relatively grateful that City only have a slim one-goal advantage despite dominating much of the first leg match-up.
Casemiro’s return from suspension will also serve as a major boost for Real Madrid, and could result in Federico Valverde moving back into the front three as a defensive winger. However, David Alaba is expected to still be unavailable after picking up an injury in the first meeting.
Meanwhile, Kyle Walker and John Stones look set to miss out for Manchester City, but Joao Cancelo is back from suspension. The strength of City’s player resources is reflected by the fact that despite Gabriel Jesus scoring six goals in his last three appearances, there is no guarantee of a starting berth.
Recent history certainly favours the Citizens ahead of their away trip, with the Premier League frontrunners having progressed from nine of their 10 Champions League knockout ties when winning the first leg.
Man City are also on a four-game winning streak in all competitions – during which time they have struck a remarkable 16 goals at a rate of four per game (side note: put money on Kevin De Bruyne adding his name to the scoresheet again). Just as notably, though, Pep Guardiola’s team have conceded just one goal in their last nine games on the road.
City won at the Bernabeu last season, while they are unbeaten away from home in all competitions since December. The English club should be marginal favourites to progress to the final, where a blockbuster showdown against Liverpool could well await.