After far too long of a layoff, the UEFA Champions League returns Friday with a tantalizing set of matchups.
As a quick refresher, the Champions League is a prestigious tournament for all of the best club teams from all of Europe. It is played yearly, and their single-game knockout final often possesses more viewers than the Super Bowl. This is a huge tournament, and we’ll have most games covered and analyzed for you here at The Sports Geek.
Our first matchup features two giants within the footballing landscape, as Manchester City takes on Real Madrid. Right now, these fixtures are two-leg ties. Going back before the pandemic hit, Man City was up 2-1 from the first leg, meaning Real Madrid will need to push hard for a win in order to advance.
Within each of their domestic seasons, both Manchester City and Real Madrid emerged from the restart with fire and competitiveness in their games. Man City were the clear best after the pause in the Premier League, with minimal blips in impressive scoring records. Meanwhile, in La Liga, Real Madrid successfully chased down and then fended off Barcelona in order to win that league’s title. Manager Zinedine Zidane again righted the ship in Madrid, and has a talented side entering Friday’s showdown.
The Champions League is some of the highest quality of soccer that gets played yearly, and matches like Real Madrid vs. Man City are the reasons why. With one side needing goals, this matchup should deliver action and offense. As always, read on beneath the posted odds for team news, a tactical preview, and our betting prediction for Man City vs. Real Madrid.
Man City vs. Real Madrid Betting Odds:
Real Madrid (+390)
Man City (-164)
Over 3.5 (+120)
Under 3.5 (-150)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Man City vs. Real Madrid Pick:
A decent break between the end of the Premier League season and the resumption of tonight’s Champions League has allowed Pep Guardiola’s side to reach good health and fitness.
Still though, City will be without Sergio Aguero as he battles with a lingering injury, while defender Benjamin Mendy will be forced to miss out due to card accumulation.
However with a squad that possesses the depth of Man City, look for a powerful starting eleven to still take the pitch for this crucial showdown. Expect Guardiola to trot out a versatile 4-3-3 formation, with midfield maestro Kevin de Bruyne pulling the strings from the centre of the pitch. Up top is where City are lethal – as the trio of Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez, and Raheem Sterling can be tricky on the ball and clinical finishers. Real Madrid will do well to keep them out.
In the other camp, the big blow for Real Madrid entering Friday is that team captain Sergio Ramos is unavailable for this fixture. He’s the heart and soul of this squad, and his absence will surely be felt in the centre of that defense.
Expect Zidane to match City’s 4-3-3 formation, but whether or not they have the skill and talent to keep pace, remains to be seen.
Look for Eden Hazard to return to the Real Madrid squad, though he hasn’t been all that impressive since his move to Spain. He’ll form an impressive partnership with Karim Benzema up top – though whether or not they can break through on the City defense is the big question.
With the injury to Ramos and the form which Man City has shown since the restart, it’s clear they’re entering with a chip on their shoulder. Pep Guardiola doesn’t get left out from winning titles, and you better believe City is solely focused on Champions League glory. Expect Man City to control the ball and the bulk of possession. They have a decisive advantage within their midfield, and their strikers were simply scoring goals for fun on other Premier League sides. Look for the Man City train to continue chugging along in Leg 2.
Pick: Man City 3-1