Real need to learn while Man City welcomes back De Bruyne

Real need to learn while Man City welcomes back De Bruyne
Real need to learn while Man City welcomes back De Bruyne

Africa-Press – Mauritius. Real Madrid has to put memories of last season behind as they play Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night.

The game comes just eight days after the two sides served up a footballing treat in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, sharing six goals in a thrilling 3-3 draw.

However, Real Madrid will remember how they were held at home by City in the first leg of last season’s semifinal only to suffer a crushing 4-0 defeat in the return leg.

Things have changed slightly over the past year: 12 months ago, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric looked exhausted as their rivals dominated the ball, but the signing of Jude Bellingham has given Madrid more creativity, while Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni have taken on bigger roles, allowing Carlo Ancelotti to spread the workload more around the squad.

Ancelotti has also been able to rest Vinicius Jr, whose pace could be important as Real Madrid can be expected to sit deep and look to hit their rival on the break, as they did in the first leg.

Tchouameni’s absence through suspension and the fact that Eder Militao is not fully match-fit after his knee injury means Nacho is likely to start in central defence and City could target the veteran as a weak link.

Pep Guardiola’s side moved to the top of the Premier League over the weekend after thrashing Luton Town 5-1, although it may be a slight cause for worry that they didn’t put the game to bed before Mateo Kovacic’s thunderbolt midway through the second half.

Erling Haaland hasn’t been at his best, but the big striker has a habit of choosing his moments to prove critics wrong and will lead the attack. Guardiola rested John Stones, Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva and Jack Grealish against Luton and all will start, while Kyle Walker, whose pace is so important against Vinicius, is also available after missing the first leg.

Kevin de Bruyne is also fit after being hit by a stomach virus in Madrid, and his and Walker’s return could just tip the scales in Manchester City’s balance, but Madrid is expert at using the sucker punch.

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