Venue: Estadio Santiago Bernabéu
Date: 4 May 2016
Referee: Damir Skomina (SVN)
Kick off: 19:45
Could Manuel Pellegrini outperforming Pep Guardiola in the Champions League be the second most unlikely thing to happen this week? As Henry Winter said on our podcast a couple of months ago, it would be “hilarious.”
Leicester City were finally confirmed as Premier League champions on Monday night and it was just brilliant. That video of Christian and the squad going absolutely Fuching mental at Vardy’s gaff was top – it was a night every football fan could enjoy, apart from yer da, of course, who was busy @ing City’s official Twitter account with his concerns about our performance levels this season. But would City reaching the Champions League final and, maybe, possibly, even winning it be even more remarkable than Leicester’s extraordinary achievement?
It’s a solid no from me. Why? Because we genuinely do have a chance at the Bernabéu tomorrow. The 82,000 capacity stadium will hardly be a snuggery for our boys. There’ll be over 75,000 Spaniards in the joint jollied up on Mahou and cigars who’ve seen all this before, but we seem to have a better game plan away from home in Europe, one that involves Fernandinho and Fernando pressing relentlessly and Kevin De Bruyne finding gaps in front of them. As I said after the 0-0 draw at the Etihad last week, I don’t think we really knew how to approach the game. In Madrid, we’ll have a better idea.
Real Madrid – 10 time European champions if you didn’t know – will also adopt a slightly different approach. The return of Cristiano Ronaldo will dictate that approach somewhat; he’s “100% fit” again according to his manager despite reportedly tearing his hamstring. I’ll have a glass of whatever he’s sipping on. Karim Benzema has been ruled out of this one, but that wont stop Madrid from attacking the shite out of our defence in an attempt to meet their city rivals Atlético in Milan. I just hope that this game plan will leave them open at the back. Casemiro’s absence could make the route to their own suspect back line a little more unobstructed.
Yaya Touré is fit to play despite training, not travelling, and then travelling with the squad to the Spanish capital. Raheem Sterling’s below par performance in the 4-2 loss to Southampton at the weekend suggests the Ivorian will fill the vacant slot left by the injured David Silva. Pablo Zabaleta will play no part in this either: he’s been ruled out for three weeks.
Perfectly poised at 0-0, this semi-final second leg has already got the knees going. Let’s hope the lads move their limbs a little quicker than they did in Southampton on Sunday and make sweet, orgiastic history for us tomorrow night.
Predict the score:
[statsfc-score-predictor key=”D8SJIk7F6vySBuDaFQRSHy11xfbyCt18uXRinj2b” team=”Man City” date=”2016-05-04″ default_css=”true”]