It has been a tumultuous week for Manchester City following the announcement from UEFA of their two-year ban from European competitions.
This season’s Champions League, therefore, takes on even more importance, with doubts over when they will have the opportunity to participate in Europe’s premier competition once again so players like Sergio Aguero and David Silva will surely be doing everything they can to make the most of this season’s Champions League opportunity knowing they may not get this type of chance again anytime soon.
With the team already in the knockout round, the football betting odds suggest they are favourites to win the tournament. City will, though, have to get past 13 time winners Real Madrid first in the round of 16.
Zinedine Zidane’s side are not the force they once were, but they are still sitting at the top of La Liga, and they have a coach in charge who has won the Champions League in three consecutive seasons before Liverpool won it last year against Spurs in the all English final.
Even so, Pep Guardiola won’t want to let this opportunity pass him by. The Spaniard has won the tournament on two separate occasions himself as manager. He could have Raheem Sterling (hamstring) back in contention for the first leg at the Bernabeu on February 26th, while Aymeric Laporte and Benjamin Mendy should both be available. Leroy Sane (knee) is unlikely to feature despite closing in on a return to first-team action.
Real, meanwhile, will have Eden Hazard back after the Belgian returned from an ankle injury against Celta Vigo. James Rodriguez (hip) is a slight doubt, while Marco Asensio has been ruled out as he continues his recovery from a serious knee injury. Real Madrid are a different animal in the Champions League and Pep Guardiola in particular will know all about what the Spanish giants are capable of when they have the crowd at the Berbabeu roaring them on.
Given the nature of the teams involved and the stakes on the game there are surely going to be goals conceded given the weakness of City’s defence but they will surely score too on account of their stunning attacking play.
Predicted First-Leg Score – 2-2