Posted on 26th Apr 2016
Manchester City welcome Real Madrid to the Etihad Stadium tonight for their UEFA Champions League semi final first leg.
The fixture is undoubtedly one of the biggest games in City’s recent history as they look to reach their first ever European final by gaining an advantage in their home leg tonight.
When the draw was made many would think that drawing the ten time Champions League winners would be a fan’s worst nightmare. However, Zinedine Zidane’s Madrid side have shown more than enough vulnerability to suggest they can be toppled.
Real Madrid have only kept one clean sheet away from the Bernabeu since November, which will give Manchester City confidence.
In the Quarter Finals, Madrid had a scare when they limped through past Wolfsburg after conceding two early goals in the first leg away from home before Cristiano Ronaldo dug them out of trouble in the second leg to fire Los Blancos into the last four.
There is no doubt that City are more than capable of getting a result tonight, which will put one foot into the Final in Milan next month.
City have shown more maturity in Europe this season which has been proven with assured performances against Borussia Monchengladbach, Sevilla, Dynamo Kiev and Paris Saint-Germain.
However, City will have a huge task in keeping the Real Madrid attacking trio of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo quiet. Despite Ronaldo and Benzema having recent injury concerns, they are both in line to start tonight.
Bale has grown a lot since he last played at the Etihad for Tottenham Hotspur. The Welshman has become one of the most potent attackers in Europe and has enhanced his reputation even further since his transfer to the Spanish capital in 2013.
This season he has mustered up 18 goals and 10 assists, but he is still to score a goal in the Champions League this campaign. Whereas, Ronaldo is on course to break his own Champions League goal scoring record by adding to his 17 goals he has already scored so far in the competition.
If Manchester City are to get a result, they will have to do it without Yaya Toure who limped off versus Stoke at the weekend. However, in Europe, Pellegrini has opted for Fernando and Fernandinho as his holding midfield duo in a 4-2-3-1 system.
The Brazilian pair will be responsible for breaking down any Madrid attacks and providing cover for the defence, picking up any loose balls and limiting the supply from Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.
Vincent Kompany looks set to return after his catalogue of calf injuries have disrupted his season, a welcome boost for Manuel Pellegrini, who has missed the Belgian’s leadership this year.
City will be looking to exploit Real Madrid’s weakness at the back by getting in down the right where Marcelo will be looking to get forward at every opportunity from left back.
Pellegrini will look to use the pace of Raheem Sterling or Jesus Navas to exploit the space in behind Marcelo. Sergio Ramos will then have to be dragged across from his natural central position, leaving Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva with freedom in the middle.
Manchester City know that they have a great chance tonight and they will need their fans to get behind them if they are to get a result. Sergio Aguero has a huge role to play in attack and if the three men in behind him can find space, Aguero will fancy his chances against a vulnerable Madrid back four.
The former Atletico Madrid forward will be looking to dump out his former Madrid rivals and fire Manchester City to the final in Milan, adding to his two goals so far in the tournament.
UEFA Champions League Tickets are available to buy from Football Ticket Pad today with tickets online for the Champions League Final in Milan on 28th May 2016. Manchester City tickets and Real Madrid tickets available to purchase.