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Champions League: Sky Blues vs Los Blancos…Round Two!

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Manchester City vs Real Madrid

It was the Champions League quarterfinal box office draw, and boy did Real Madrid and Manchester City deliver at the Santiago Bernabeu last week.

The tie swung back and forth from the first to the last as Bernardo Silva scored a clever free-kick goal in the opening minutes.

After Los Blancos had hit back with two goals in as many minutes, the Sky Blues scored with two long-range howitzers, courtesy of Phil Foden and Josko Gvardiol. But just as City thought they’d picked up a win, which may have been terminal for their hosts, Federico Valverde levelled with a brilliant volleyed finish. 

Both teams were in action at the weekend with much changed sides, and Manchester City obliterated Luton Town at home on Saturday, winning 5-1, while Real Madrid earned a 1-0 victory away to Real Mallorca to stay eight points clear at the top of La Liga.


Talking Points

Rodri earned his rest and is ready to go again

In the run-up to Manchester City’s clash with the Hatters, midfield ace Rodri suggested he was feeling ready for a rest, and head coach Pep Guardiola obliged. Before the game, as well as keeping his counsel on the fitness of Phil Foden and Kevin de Bruyne, Guardiola was unwilling to say whether he would rest defensive midfielder Rodri, who has not lost in a City shirt in 66 games.

Given the importance of the Spaniard to the Sky Blues’ success, his manager trusts him implicitly, and Rodri has looked very slightly jaded in recent weeks.

So while De Bruyne started and captained City against Luton, Rodri and Foden stayed on the bench in readiness for the big match on Wednesday.

Rodri will aim to score goals for Manchester City against Real Madrid in their second leg tie in the Champions League
Manchester City’s Rodri warms up ahead of their home match against Luton Town in the Premier League

Such is the quality at Guardiola’s disposal that his team still moved to the top of the Premier League as they swept the Hatters aside in a brutal second-half display. With just a minute on the clock, the Sky Blues were ahead when Luton’s Daiki Hashioka diverted a shot into his own net.

It was 1-0 at halftime, but a lovely strike from Mateo Kovacic opened the floodgates, and Haaland, Jeremy Doku, and Gvardiol all helped themselves to a goal, with Luton midfielder Ross Barkley bagging a consolation. 

There are no easy games in the Premier League, but the Sky Blues have a relatively kind run-in, and, with their FA Cup and Champions League 2024 results going well, the Sky Blues’ progress is beginning to look ominous again.

Can Madrid stop the Manchester Juggernaut? 


Ancelotti’s task to lift Madrid

He’s one of the greatest managers of all time, and Carlo Ancelotti is looking for his fifth Champions League title as a head coach and his third with Los Blancos. And he needs to use all his tactical and motivational skills to prepare his team for Wednesday’s huge test and give them the belief they can do it.

Manchester City are, quite possibly, the best club side on the planet, and they are devilishly hard to beat on home soil. After he saved the first leg with a late equaliser, Federico Valverde said the draw at home felt like a defeat, and Los Blancos know they now have a steep uphill battle.

Just like his opposite number, Ancelotti rested some key players for the trip to Cadiz, with Dani Carvajal, Toni Kroos, Vinicius Junior, and Eduardo Camavinga all stepping down, while midfield dynamo Jude Bellingham was substituted midway through the second half.

The England star was unusually quiet in the first leg, and Ancelotti apparently thought Bellingham would benefit from more time on the pitch. In the event, a long-range strike from Aurelien Tchouameni was enough to give Los Blancos a win and preserve their eight-point lead at the top. 


History

City are just ahead in their encounters with Real Madrid, with five wins to four, and there have been four draws. The Spaniards have failed to win at the Etihad in five attempts.

Guardiola has told his players that the Madrid giants will be looking for revenge after they were slapped 5-1 in the Champions League last season on the Sky Blues’ route to the title. 

Both teams are in fine form, with four wins and three draws from the last seven games. City are unbeaten in 26 games, while Los Blancos are unbeaten in 14. 


Betting Tip

The latest Champions League 2024 betting odds are right behind Guardiola’s Sky Blues, and the hosts are at SBOTOP odds of 1.63 to win this leg, with Madrid at 4.38 and the draw at 3.82

Madrid will be looking for some payback, but I don’t think they’ll get it on Wednesday, and I expect the tournament favourites to strike early.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (⭐) BETS ARE WORTH:

⭐⭐⭐= €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT)

⭐⭐= €10 (CONFIDENT))

⭐= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.


 

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