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Manchester City are hoping that to end their Champions League hoodoo this season. The Citizens have never so much as reached the final of the competition before and although boss Pep Guardiola lifted the famous trophy twice during his time with Barcelona, it’s been almost ten years of heartbreak for him in this tournament during his time with City and previously with Bayern Munich.
The Premier League outfit go into this Round of 16 clash against Real Madrid with a 1-2 lead after goals from Kevin de Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus turned the first-leg on it’s head all the way back in February. Sergio Ramos was sent off in the dying minutes of that clash too, so los Blancos will be without their skipper for this fixture.
It wasn’t exactly a perfect run of form for Pep Guardiola’s men on their return from lockdown however. Not only did they lose league fixtures away at Chelsea and Southampton allowing Liverpool to run away to the title without any real competition, but they also missed out on FA Cup glory after losing to Arsenal in the semi-finals.
Real Madrid on the other, very much enjoyed life post-lockdown in La Liga. Despite playing games at their reserve ground due to building work at the Bernabeu, los Blancos won ten straight league games to leapfrog Barcelona into top spot and win a first domestic league title since 2017.
So, even though they will need to score twice at the Etihad Stadium to stand any hope of progressing, you should write off the Champions League’s most successful club at your peril here.
Kevin de Bruyne to assist 1+ goals @ 11/8 with Sky Bet
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Man City vs Real Madrid Predictions
Squawka Stat: Both teams have scored in five of Manchester City’s seven Champions League games this season – and City have won five of those seven matches to boot.
Both of these teams have kept plenty of clean sheets in their respective domestic leagues of late, but they tend to dominate possession and chances in those fixtures against opponents that are rarely able to match up to them.
In the Champions League, where opponents are a little more difficult to handle defensively, both teams are slightly more culpable when it comes to conceding goals. Real Madrid have kept just two clean sheets in their seven games so far in the competition, with both teams finding the net in five of the Citizens’ seven European matches so far this term.
Notably though, Pep Guardiola’s side haven’t lost in Europe so far this season, winning five and drawing two of those games. Real, meanwhile, have lost to both PSG and Man City and were even held to two draws in the group stages too (one with les Parisiens, another against Belgian outfit Club Brugge).
City appear to be in the better European form so far this season and with the visitors needing to chase the game here, we’re expecting the hosts to pick them off on the counter-attack and earn the win – but a clean sheet seems too much to expect against the likes of Eden Hazard and Karim Benzema.
Squawka Stat: Kevin de Bruyne has made 22 assists in all competitions so far this season.
Kevin de Bruyne doesn’t just lead the way in terms of assists in the Premier League this season, but he has absolutely dominated the league in that metric. His total of 20 has him seven ahead of his nearest competitor, Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold.
What’s more, the Belgian midfield maestro was the stand-out performer for the Citizens in their first-leg win over Real Madrid in this tie, laying on the equaliser for Gabriel Jesus before converting from the penalty spot to hand his side a 1-2 lead to take back to the Etihad Stadium.
All eyes will be on the former Wolfsburg man in this game as he looks to dominate against Europe’s biggest club, displaying his credentials as Europe’s best central midfielder. With City likely to get chances on the break, expect his incisive passing to be difference again here.