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Manchester City vs Real Madrid preview, team news, tickets & prediction

The biggest of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final matchups climaxes when the defending champions host the record winners of the competition.

Real Madrid travels to Manchester City hoping to avoid a third straight defeat at the Etihad Stadium as they contest the second leg of their mammoth last-eight clash. 

City were dealt an epic turnaround on Madrid’s way to the 2022 Champions League triumph but Pep Guardiola’s team got revenge in a 5-1 aggregate win in last season’s semi-final.

Hence, City has four wins and three draws from their previous ten matches against Madrid but each club has twice advanced from their four knockout ties.  

Last season’s treble winners are on course for a repeat but they face their toughest test of the season in this decider. 

Man City began the campaign with wins over the likes of Burnley, Newcastle, Sheffield United, and Fulham in their first four matches displaying their immaculate control and game management. They saw off West Ham United as well as Nottingham Forest 2-0 despite losing influential midfielder Rodri to a red card. 

A Carabao Cup defeat to Newcastle led to more mishaps as a 2-1 loss at Wolverhampton Wanderers was followed by another in a top-of-the-table clash against Arsenal which was decided by Gabriel Martinelli’s goal.

That loss to the Gunners was particularly catastrophic as they lost ground at the top of the table but then responded in typical fashion with wins over Brighton, Manchester United, and Bournemouth before drawing 4-4 at Chelsea.

More points were dropped in successive league games against Liverpool, Tottenham, and Aston Villa but they beat Luton and drew Crystal Palace before traveling to Saudi Arabia for the FIFA Club World Cup. 

The Mancunians have entered their usual late-season undefeated streak since then by winning 15 of their 17 matches in all competitions. As the title race hots up for the final ten games of the season, Chelsea also awaits the FA Cup semi-final with Guardiola’s side competing on three fronts. 

In terms of their European ambitions, City will be pleased to play the second leg on home soil as that could be key in the outcome. The Sky Blues have been impeccable recently and they will look to drive home the slim margins.

Real Madrid looks set to waltz to another La Liga title this year as they have been flawless with Jude Bellingham making a grand entrance to the Spanish league with five goals in the first four matches. The midfielder also grabbed the 94th-minute winner in their opening Champions League game against Union Berlin but they lost to Atletico Madrid in their next outing. 

Real Madrid continued the dramatic nature of their games in Europe as they needed second-half winners to beat Napoli and Braga. Bellingham’s match-winning brace in El Clasico galvanized Carlo Ancelotti’s men who went on a 14-game unbeaten run in all competitions afterwards. 

The second half of the season has been almost plain sailing for the Spaniards but a lone-goal victory over RB Leipzig in the UCL Round of 16 was followed by a laboured 1-1 draw in the second leg.

Indeed, Madrid now holds an eight-point advantage in the La Liga title race and has their sights on a league and Champions League double to end the campaign. The reigning champions of Europe will pose a significant challenge in the last eight but Los Merengues know they have to beat the best to regain their European title. 

The entire tie promises to be intriguing from start to finish with some of the finest footballers on the planet on show for both sides. Regardless of the first-leg result, the tie can be turned on its head at any moment so each manager will be looking for tactical superiority to get a strong lead. 

The fact that away goals are no more multiplied by two also makes it a winner-take-all scenario, may the better attack win. 

Match tickets

This UEFA Champions League Quarter-final takes place on Wednesday, 17 April 2024 with kick-off scheduled for 8 PM UK time. Match tickets are available for sale on both clubs’ websites,  with allocation guaranteed for season ticket holders and registered members.

There would be no empty seats when the 14-time UCL winners rock up to the Etihad Stadium so expect match tickets to be sold out. The 53,000-capacity arena will be bubbly given the occasion but Real Madrid will be keen to get the last laugh.   

Supporters who are yet to purchase match tickets may find Manchester City vs Real Madrid tickets on a ticket resale site.   

Team news

Kevin De Bruyne and Ederson are injury doubts for City at the time of writing but they should both be fully fit for the second leg against Madrid.

Los Blancos have had several star players sidelined this season as David Alaba, Thibaut Courtois, and Eder Militao all suffered ACL injuries. The first-choice goalkeeper unfortunately injured his knee again during training and he is certainly ruled out for the rest of the season. 

Meanwhile, Dani Ceballos could be hoping to feature. 

Line-ups

Pep Guardiola’s best players are fit and in full flow during this important run of games and he must maximize their quality to outwit Carlo Ancelotti again. 

Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Ake; Rodri, De Bruyne; Silva, Foden, Grealish, Haaland

Bellingham is the absolute key man going forward for Madrid but Antonio Rudiger must be at his best to marshall an injury-hit defence and stop Erling Haaland. 

The likes of Fede Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga will also be crucial to subduing the influence of Kevin De Bruyne across the middle of the park. 

Real Madrid: Lunin; Carvajal, Rüdiger, Nacho, Mendy; Tchouameni, Valverde, Camavinga, Bellingham; Rodrygo, Vinicius

Prediction

This tactical spectacle is worth the admission fee alone as two tactical masterminds go head-to-head in what is sure to be another classic. City will look to be expressive while Madrid are master of managing the game in moments and taking control when it matters. 

Madrid will hope a first-leg advantage can give them the chance to soak up what could be a tense atmosphere as the second leg kicks off. Never count out Los Blancos in a big game but never also underestimate City’s brilliance. 

Man City 3-1 Real Madrid

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