Real Madrid Vs Man City: Can Guardiola get the upperhand against Ancelotti again?

Real Madrid vs Manchester City || Image credit: Imago

Real Madrid Vs Man City: Can Guardiola get the upperhand against Ancelotti again?

Faruq Ibrahim 18:13 - 08.04.2024

Real Madrid and Manchester City's Champions League battles have been epic. As they gear up for another showdown, both sides have strengths and weaknesses to consider, making the outcome unpredictable.

Real Madrid versus Manchester City has become a modern-day classic in the Champions League, with both sides having faced off in each of the last three UCL knockout stages and set for a fourth.

City won the first of the current trilogy in the 2020/21 season, beating Los Blancos on their way to becoming losing finalists that term. Real Madrid got their revenge in the 2021/22 season and went a step further, becoming champions.

Last season, Pep Guardiola’s side famously outplayed Los Blancos in an embarrassingly dominant fashion in their journey towards a first-ever UCL triumph. Both teams are set for another dance in this season’s knockout. With a 2-1 lead against Real Madrid in the past three seasons, can Guardiola make it three this year?

State of play

Carlo Ancelotti’s side have not been particularly inspiring in the Champions League this season. They struggled against Leipzig in the Round-of-16 and although they showed dominance points-wise in the group stage, they were overly troubled by Union Berlin and Braga. 

In the league, however, they are set to reclaim their crown after Xavi Hernandez’s Barcelona deposed them last season. Manchester City, on the other hand, have been uncharacteristically vulnerable in the league this season and are only third in the Premier League in a title race against Liverpool and Arsenal. However, they have continued their impeccable home form in the Champions League.

Manchester City vs Real Madrid
Manchester City vs Real Madrid

Real Madrid’s chances

Manchester City have been particularly vulnerable against counterattacks this season. Before the clash against Crystal Palace, Manchester City had conceded the joint most goals from fast breaks (a tenable proxy for counter-attacks). They had conceded seven goals from fast breaks, joint top in the league with the Eagles. 

Los Merengues will be licking their lips as their analysts show them these stats, as Carlo Ancelotti’s side can be devastating in offensive transitions and, in fact, lead the league (LALIGA) for goals scored from counterattacks (7), according to Whoscored.

Real Madrid's Rodrygo, Dani Carvajal, and Vinicius Junior | Imago
Real Madrid's Rodrygo, Dani Carvajal, and Vinicius Junior | Imago

Manchester City’s chances 

Pep Guardiola’s side have dominated this fixture possession-wise in the last three seasons, even the one they lost. Pep’s team will be expected to enjoy the bulk of possession again, with Carlo Ancelotti comfortable dropping off to a mid-block.

Manchester City have the psychological edge and the advantage of playing the return fixture at the Etihad. Given their remarkable home form in the Champions League, the luck of the draw is in their favour.

Man City star Kelvin De Bruyne || Imago
Man City star Kelvin De Bruyne || Imago

Who wins the tie?

This tie is tough to call, but if this editor were a betting man, his money would be on Real Madrid making it through. Los Blancos have not shown any real consistent weakness defensively this season. They have only let in two goals from counter-attacks all campaign and only one from set plays, despite fielding a makeshift backline all season. 

With Militao’s return, Vinicius’s and Rodrygo’s form, and Manchester City's vulnerability to fast breaks, Carlo Ancelotti and his boys should take the tie.

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