Manchester City v Real Madrid Preview
Etihad Stadium, Manchester
MATCH IN A SENTENCE: Premier League champions Manchester City are back atop the domestic table, but with only two points to show from four Champions League outings they face a must-win scenario at home to Real Madrid, who are second to Dortmund in competitive Group D with seven points.
BREAKDOWN: Manchester City may have risen to the top of the Premier League standings at the weekend, but they have been unable to replicate their domestic form in the Champions League and are at risk of elimination with a match to spare in group stage play.
To date they’ve managed only a pair of draws in their European campaign—a far cry from the 19 of 21 points they’ve taken in their last seven outings in the English top flight.
Acknowledging that perhaps the pressure was off his side given the unlikelihood of their progression, City manager Roberto Mancini nevertheless said his team were “obliged to win” and “put in a good performance” against the Spanish champions.
Jose Mourinho was rather more blunt in his assessment of Wednesday’s encounter, telling reporters in his pre-match press conference that it wasn’t “normal” for a side like City to go out of the Champions League at the group stage.
“I think they will go out, and that will be difficult for them,” stated the Madrid boss. “They can beat us tomorrow...and they can do the same against Borussia [Dortmund], but eight points will not be enough, I think. So City will be the big team that is out.”
ESSENTIALS: City will be without injured left-back Gael Clichy on Wednesday, and Joleon Lescott, James Milner and Micah Richards are all sidelined as well. The news is somewhat better regarding Samir Nasri and James Milner, however, as both players are likely to play some part in the match.
Madrid are still without left-back Marcelo and striker Gonzalo Higuain.
A stat from Goal.com: Only Lokomotiv Moscow (2002) and Porto (2004) have made up five points in the table with only two rounds remaining in the Champions League group stage.
Tuesday’s match will be Jose Mourinho’s 100th in the Champions League. He has previously lifted the European Cup with Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010.
KEY BATTLE: In his pre-match remarks, Mancini stressed the importance of containing Cristiano Ronaldo—a job that will fall to Pablo Zabaleta on Wednesday. Maicon played against Aston Villa on Saturday, but the City boss would be loath to provided the Portuguese captain with such an easy assignment in a must-win match.
FORMATIONS: Mancini will deploy a 4-2-3-1, with Sergio Aguero leading the line and Nasri, Tevez and Silva in support. Mourinho will also go 4-2-3-1 and will have Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria playing just behind Karim Benzema.
BETLINE: Manchester City 21/10; Draw 11/4; Real Madrid 23/20. Real Madrid scored three times in the last 14 minutes when these sides met in September to earn a 3-2 win at the Bernabeu.