Following a cagey affair at the Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid, Manchester City and Real Madrid have all to play for coming into the second leg. In leg one, the score after 90 minutes was 1-1, with Vinicius Junior opening the score for the reigning European champions before a Kevin De Bruyne screamer levelled things for the visitors.
Come Wednesday, May 16, the two teams meet again in what is a ‘win and go through’ second leg. With Madrid hoping to close out the season with a cup double and Manchester City still on the hunt for that elusive treble, this game has all the ingredients to go down in Champions League history.
Neither side seemed able to pick each other apart consistently during the first leg, and if City does wish to progress to their second European final in the last three years, the following three reasons are key to a City victory.
The three keys to a Manchester City victory:
3. Keeping Karim Benzema quiet once again
Even though the build-up to the first leg was all about reigning Ballon D’or winner Karim Benzema against the man who is one of the favourites to pick up the award this season, Erling Haaland, it was far from the matchup we expected.
Both Benzema and Haaland struggled against the mighty defences they faced with neither striker showing their worth. For City, keeping Benzema quiet for another leg could see them go through.
He only managed three shots and 37 touches throughout the whole game, both low compared to his season average. If Ruben Dias, Manuel Akanji, and Kyle Walker can have another big game against the Frenchman, City will have a huge advantage during the second leg.
2. Stopping the Brazilian duo
It is no surprise to see that Real Madrid has once again managed to find talent where no one else was looking. Arriving as unknown teenagers, Vinicius Jr. and Rodrygo have become staples for this Real Madrid side this season, with Vinicius putting on Ballon D’or level performances throughout the season.
Considering how last year’s second leg went, with Rodrygo scoring twice in stoppage time to push the tie into extra time, it is of vital importance that City prevent these two from having an elite game.
Both players were kept relatively quiet during the first leg bar a Vinicius screamer to open the scoring, and another huge performance is needed from Kyle Walker to ensure Vinicius doesn’t get going.
It was clear in the last game that these two have the skills, pace, and flair to go through any of City’s defenders. Preventing them from having a huge game can propel City into the next round.
1. The home crowd
Unlike last year, when City had to make the trip to Madrid for the second leg, this time around it is the team from the Spanish capital who must fly to Manchester to see who will be in the Champions League final.
This match finished 4-3 in favour of City last time out and the home crowd were going through all the emotions of that electric tie. Given that Real Madrid has never won at the Etihad and City has won all five of their Champions League matches at home, scoring a ridiculous 20 goals and only conceding twice, City will have a major advantage heading into this leg.
One can never count out Real Madrid, especially in Europe, however, having the full support of the City faithful will be a massive advantage for the whole squad. With a 7-0 win over RB Leipzig and a 3-0 victory over Bayern Munich in the last two European home games, City fans will be on full volume to ensure their team demolish another European giant and reach the final for another crack at football’s most prestigious club trophy.