Champions League football is finally back at the Bernabéu as Real Madrid are set to take on defending Premier League champions Manchester City on Wednesday. This is also the first Champions League match for both clubs in 2020.
Real Madrid started off this hell week with a loss to Levante in La Liga over the weekend, that’s just Real’s second league loss this season but it was enough for them to be passed for first by Barcelona. Now they turn their attention towards City before having to play in El Clasico on Sunday.
Manchester City have not had quite the season they had last season, largely due to injuries and the sheer league dominance by Liverpool. They trail the defending World Champions by a whole 22 points. This season could also be their last of Champions League for a while as they were recently slapped with a two-year ban from UEFA, still pending on an appeal.
This is one of the toughest matches of the Round of 16 on paper. Real Madrid, barring recent form, have had a complete turnaround this season. While they haven’t been as impressive this season, Manchester City are still a powerhouse that just gained one of their most important players back in Raheem Sterling.
There’s no secret that Real Madrid lost Eden Hazard again due to injury over the weekend. They will once again have to carry form with him out for an extended period of time. Gareth Bale and Luka Jovic are back, while James is out of the squad. Marco Asensio remains out.
Manchester City thought they would have Leroy Sane available by the time this match rolled around on the schedule, but he remains out. As mentioned, Raheem Sterling is back in their squad.
There are no suspensions for either club in this European matchup.
Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Valverde, Casemiro, Kroos, Isco; Bale, Benzema
Marcelo has been starting again recently for Zidane’s side. This may be a match better suited to start Ferland Mendy, however, as Marcelo may find it hard to keep up with City’s attack prowess and speed.
Valverde did not start against Levante over the weekend either, though Modric and Isco could see starts once again.
With Bale back and Hazard out again, the returning Welshman could see a start alongside Karim Benzema. Vinicius is also an option to start up top with Benzema.
Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Mendy; De Bruyne, Rodri, Gündogan; Bernardo, Sterling, Aguero
Real Madrid—Manchester City 1-1
This is going to be a very tough match for both sides on Wednesday. These European nights are always special and the pressure is always on; no club knows that more than Real Madrid.
If there was ever a match for Los Blancos to turn around their recent form, it’s on a Champions League night. They have been disappointing in their draw with Celta and their loss to Levante within the last couple of weeks. Now, they have to face off against a world class club.
Manchester City are highly offensively gifted. Even with no Sane, having Sterling back to join the ranks of Bernardo, Mahrez and De Bruyne is a tough ask of the Real Madrid backline. This is going to be a match where the defense will have to step up a level, especially with the away goal rule in effect.
Being at home is a boost for Real, but they have to make sure they don’t concede much of anything. It’s going to be very difficult to keep a clean sheet so they will have to work extra hard to keep chances to a minimum, which is a very tall task.
With Real Madrid’s form for most of this season, they should be able to pull out their best against Manchester City. City’s defense is one of their weaker points so that will have to be exploited.
This is going to be a great night of football and it’s wonderful to finally get the Champions League back in action. Regardless of the result, this has all the makings of one of the best matches of both the Champions League and the season as a whole.