Manchester’s Etihad Stadium will play host to one of the blockbuster clashes of the UEFA Champions League round of 16, as Manchester City welcome Real Madrid on Friday night. Manchester City bring a 2-1 lead to this leg, after a memorable win in February at the Santiago Bernabeu. Isco gave Madrid the lead, but Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne penalty gave City a precious lead, to add to the late sending off of Sergio Ramos.
City lost their Premier League crown to Liverpool, finishing a distant second leaving Pep Guardiola to target the Champions League. With no European titles in his City reign, Pep will be desperate for a final hurrah. There have been concerns about City’s defence since the restart, as losses away to Chelsea and Southampton and getting knocked out by Arsenal in the FA Cup have put them under the spotlight. However, City have been in excellent scoring form at this venue – scoring 24 goals in their last six consecutive wins including a 4-0 romp over Liverpool. Crucially for City, they have never failed to win a European tie after an away first-leg victory.
Madrid have come back from the pandemic break in flying colors, breezing their way to La Liga title with 10 straight wins, before finishing the season with a 2-2 draw. In the Champions League, though, Madrid have been in a bit of indifferent form with just three wins in their last eight matches – losing three and drawing two. Pertinently, six of Madrid’s last nine Champions League matches have seen goals at both ends which could be in play here. Madrid will, however, look to extend their good away record in the competition – they have won five of their last six Champions League away matches.
Manchester City and Real Madrid are without doubt two of the hot favourites to win this year's competition. With star players lined up on both sides, goals remain a theme. City will be desperate to extend their European journey, as Pep Guardiola looks to break his European duck with the Manchester side. Madrid have been in great form post lockdown and it will be suicidal to rule them out of a fightback here. Karim Benzema’s scoring form and their away record in the Champions League round of 16 gives hope for the travellers. Our pick is in the goals market backing the two teams to find the net. Risk takers can back City qualifying, as the first-leg advantage could prove to be vital in the final analysis.