Manchester City - Real Madrid Preview: Mancini hoping for a Champions League miracle
The winners of the Premier League and La Liga face off at the Etihad on Wednesday, with the English side needing a win to keep their faint dreams of reaching the last 16 alive
By Tom J Doyle
Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Kolarov
Nasri, Y Toure, Barry, Silva
Arbeloa, Ramos, Pepe, Coentrao
Di Maria, Ozil, Ronaldo
Gael Clichy injured his ankle during Manchester City's 5-0 win over Aston Villa at the weekend and could be replaced by Aleksandar Kolarov at left-back by Roberto Mancini.
Joleon Lescott (back) and James Milner (hamstring) are still out for City, with no set return dates from injury.
Micah Richards (knee) is sidelined until December, although Samir Nasri could shake off illness and Jack Rodwell (hamstring) is back in contention for a place in the vital match, albeit with slim chances.
Matija Nastasic (knee) played the full 90 minutes at the weekend and should retain his place in centre of defence.
Real Madrid's main injury concerns are Gonzalo Higuain (thigh) and Marcelo (broken foot), with both unable to feature for the visitors.
Other than those two injuries, Jose Mourinho has a full squad at his disposal.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Only two teams have recovered from a position such as Manchester City's to qualify for the latter stages: Lokomotiv Moskow with one point after four games in 2002-03 and Porto with two points in 2004-05.
- The only previous meeting between the sides occurred in September, with Real Madrid fighting back to beat City 3-2.
- The Blues are 19 games unbeaten at home in Uefa competition (qualifying included), winning 14 and drawing five since a 1-0 Uefa Cup loss to FC Midtjylland in 2008.
- The English champions have been caught offside 22 times in Europe this season, more than any other club.
- Cristiano Ronaldo (pictured right) appeared in 11 derbies for Manchester United against City, winning seven and losing three. He scored four goals but was twice sent off at the City of Manchester Stadium.
- Ronaldo has found the net 14 times in his last 11 Champions League appearances.
- Los Blancos are making their fifth visit to Manchester. They won 1-0 at Tottenham on their last visit to England, and have won four, drawn two, and lost five in the country.
- Borussia Dortmund's first goal against Madrid in the 2-2 draw on was the 200th Madrid have conceded in the Champions League.
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Top 3 Predictions
Manchester City 1-3 Real Madrid
- 19.18 %
Manchester City 1-2 Real Madrid
- 14.51 %
Manchester City 2-1 Real Madrid
- 12.33 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||21 Nov 2012||Manchester City 1 - Real Madrid 1|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||18 Sep 2012||Real Madrid 3 - Manchester City 2|
|7 Dec 2013||Southampton 1 - Manchester City 1||EPL|
|4 Dec 2013||West Bromwich Albion 2 - Manchester City 3||EPL|
|1 Dec 2013||Manchester City 3 - Swansea City 0||EPL|
|27 Nov 2013||Manchester City 4 - FC Viktoria Plzeň 2||UCL|
|24 Nov 2013||Manchester City 6 - Tottenham 0||EPL|
|22||Ángel Di María||Midfielder|
The England No.1 has had a difficult time of late, struggling as the Three Lions were swept away by Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the 4-2 friendly against Sweden but looked much more assured against Aston Villa at the weekend. The shot-stopper has been a busy man in Europe so far, conceding nine goals in four appearances, and keeping out Cristiano Ronaldo & Co. may be his toughest challenge yet.
While most eyes will be on Cristiano Ronaldo at the Etihad on Wednesday, Alonso will be the player to make Madrid tick and stopping him could be the key to City obtaining a famous victory. The former Liverpool midfielder possesses a calm touch and measured passing skills under pressure, allowing the likes of Ronaldo and Karim Benzema to steal the limelight. If Yaya Toure and Carlos Tevez can make his night in defensive midfield uncomfortable, it may unsettle Jose Mourinho's side enough for the Premier League champions to take all three points.
Wednesday’s tie is, simply, a must-win game for City against one of the most talented sides in the world. The Spanish champions will certainly be no pushovers and, with the attacking talent on display, expect both teams to find the net at least once. Joe Hart and Iker Casillas will be busy men, but with City needing three points to stand any chance of qualification, it should become a more open game as the clock ticks down.