Manchester City vs. Real Madrid Champions League picks, expert predictions, odds: Pep Guardiola’s side advance

The heavyweight rematch we all want to see is here. Real Madrid travel to Manchester City on for their Champions League semifinal second leg with things all squared up. In the Spanish capital on Tuesday of last week, it was goals by Vinicius Jr. and Kevin de Bruyne that saw things finish 1-1. That leaves a pretty simply scenario here — win and advance. Be it in regulation, extra time or penalty kicks, there must be a winner and that team will move on to the final on June 10 to face either Inter or AC Milan.

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Wednesday’s broadcast schedule

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Match picks

Manchester City

By James Benge

One player to watch: For all that Vinicius Junior burgeoned his case to rank among the best in the world, Karim Benzema cut a subdued figure. That may in no small part have been due to the imperious Ruben Dias, who was his customary mix of elegance on the ball and full throttled battling off it. He throws himself in the way of any danger that comes City’s way and might just be able to quell Benzema again.

Underrated X-factor: No one would confuse the Etihad Stadium with one of Europe’s great arenas, particularly on Champions League nights when supporters tend to register their distaste of UEFA in the loudest terms. But City certainly feel at ease under the lights and are unbeaten in their last 25 European home games, the most by any English club. Indeed the English champions haven’t lost a home knockout game since way back in 2015, when Luis Suarez and the rest of Barcelona put them to the sword.

Biggest reason they’ll win: Picking just one quality that will carry City to victory is a challenge in itself but if you have to trust a team to claim a clean sheet in this competition it is Wednesday’s hosts, who have let in just five goals in 11 matches so far. That isn’t some fluke either, they have only given up 7.8 non-penalty expected goals in the Champions League so far. 

Biggest reason they’ll lose: Until such time as they actually win the Champions League the same cliche will have to apply, that there is something inherent to this particular team that makes them their own worst enemies on the European stage. That City haven’t taken control of the tie in the first leg makes it all the more credible that they could simply lose their cool in the dying stages of the second leg.

Featured Game | Manchester City vs. Real Madrid

Real Madrid

By Chuck Booth

One player to watch: Karim Benzema. Going back to the first leg, while Real Madrid had their chances, one of the key takeaways was that Benzema barely got a touch of the ball. Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior got their chances out wide but for Real to be at their best, there has to be a central threat as well. Benzema can move a defense even when he isn’t at his best because defenses know what he can do with the ball at his feet but Real will need at least a goal or an assist from the Frenchman if they want to get past Manchester City at home.

Underrated X-factor: Luka Modric. While we can’t call Modric underrated at this stage of things, once you become a Galactico that term doesn’t particularly matter. But, if there’s one player who on their day can make this match a Real Madrid route, it’s Modric. Everywhere on the pitch keeping possession moving and creating chances a vintage Modric game can change the tie for Los Blancos even if Benzema doesn’t get space to work in attack.

Biggest reason they’ll win: Composure. Real Madrid are a team that has been in this place time and time again. Coming from behind to move forward in Champions League? They’ve done that. Winning away from home as underdogs? They’ve done that too. Real has experience that will prevent this game from going sideways unless City puts up multiple goals early in the tie.

Biggest reason they’ll lose: Defensive frailty. While Madrid had no issues creating chances against City, early in the first leg they were overpowered by City’s attack. Allowing that to happen with City at home, even if for a second can put the team in a deficit that can’t be overturned. This is also why Camavinga’s health will be critical because the team defense is much better with him in the lineup.


By James Benge

Madrid have proven themselves to be a good match for City but ultimately Pep Guardiola’s side might just have the greater quality, particularly off the bench, to swing this tie in their direction with a 2-1 win.

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