Manchester City’s quest for the treble this season is taking shape. Pep Guardiola‘s side can win the Premier League this weekend if they defeat Chelsea. They also have an FA Cup final to look forward to but the Champions League is their Holy Grail. The competition is the only trophy that eludes Guardiola at City and it is one that he must collect if he is to be deemed a real success at the club.
City dispatched Everton 3-0 last weekend, with Erling Haaland again getting on the scoresheet. Guardiola was quoted in the Daily Mail saying that next time the Norwegian faces Madrid it will be “easier for him.” Haaland has made scoring look easy this season by finding the back of the net 52 times in 48 games in all competitions. Antonio Rudiger kept him quiet at the Bernabeu but round two at the Etihad will be an even bigger challenge for Los Blancos’ back line.
Haaland is also not City’s only threat, it was Kevin De Bruyne who got their equaliser in Spain last week. The Belgian was rested against the Toffees, so will be fresh to face Madrid again. Ilkay Gundogan scored twice on Saturday, showing that they did not miss De Bruyne and reflecting the strength in depth that Guardiola has.
Carlo Ancelotti‘s team beat Getafe 1-0 thanks to a goal from Marco Asensio last weekend. However, his side had to endure seeing Barcelona win La Liga after they defeated Espanyol. Los Blancos expect their team to win either the league or the Champions League each season. If they do not win European football’s premier competition this year, then it might be difficult for Ancelotti to continue in his job.
Madrid has a slight advantage in that they played last Saturday, whilst City played on Sunday due to Eurovision taking place in Liverpool. This has given Ancelotti an extra day to prepare for this fixture. The Italian was sympathetic to Guardiola who complained about the scheduling. Ancelotti was quoted in the Mirror saying “In the first leg we had to play with less rest and now it’s their turn. The calendar is not the right one… that’s it, that’s my point of view, there are too many games in a short space of time.”
Last season at this stage in the competition, Madrid defeated City 6-5 on aggregate, with late goals from Rodrygo and Karim Benzema stealing the victory. Given how evenly poised this match is from the first leg, the match will very likely again go down to the wire. The pressure is on both sides, so it will take a moment of magic to decide this matchup.
Manchester City take on Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium this Wednesday, with kick-off at 20:00.
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