Manchester City vs. Real Madrid: Preview and Prediction for the Second Leg

Manchester City - Real Madrid

The first leg of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Champions League semifinal between Manchester City Football Club and Real Madrid CF did not disappoint.

The scoring opened when Real Madrid’s Vinicius Júnior sent a rocket from outside of the box into the top left corner of the goal in the 36th minute; however, Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne pulled his side level with a missile of his own in the 67th minute. It was an enticing game throughout, with both sides controlling the flow at different moments.

The thrilling 90 minutes of soccer ended 1-1, therefore leaving it up to the second leg to break the draw. 

Manchester City must have been the happier of the two sides at the conclusion of the game, escaping the Santiago Bernabéu on an even scoreline and with a more than respectable performance. Yet, without the away goals rule, which UEFA stopped using back in 2021, Manchester City has no numerical advantage going into the second leg of the matchup.

In the past two knockout rounds, Real Madrid looked in pristine form. In the Round of 16, they went on the road to Anfield and beat Liverpool Football Club, 5-2, in the first leg, eventually winning 6-2 on aggregate. In the quarterfinals, Los Blancos outlasted Chelsea Football Club by a 2-0 score in both the home and away matches to stroll into the semifinals. 

However, it is not difficult to make the case that Manchester City looked even more impressive in the most recent rounds. City rolled through RB Leipzig in the Round of 16, the tie finishing with an aggregate score of 8-1. Then, the Premier League leaders handled another German squad, FC Bayern Munich, 4-1 on aggregate, which included a 3-0 overpowering at home in the first leg. The one-sidedness of this matchup was surprising, as Bayern did not drop points in the group stage and then dominated French force Paris Saint-Germain Football Club in the Round of 16.

Clearly, both sides have proved they are deserving of their spot in the semifinals, being called arguably the two strongest teams in Europe currently. All this sets up for a game to remember in the second leg of this matchup. 

To even further the plot, City has an opportunity to get revenge on Real after the incredible comeback that occurred in last year’s semifinal. In the second leg, Rodrygo scored goals in the 90th and 91st minutes to force extra time. Then, Karim Benzema put the Spanish side up 6-5 on aggregate with a penalty to send them through to the final. 

With Real Madrid’s resiliency, Manchester City’s stability, and so much on the line, it seems like any result is possible. However, my pick is that Manchester City earn a narrow victory over Real Madrid. 

De Bruyne’s brilliant goal in the first leg could be all-important for City, who, as a result, are not returning home to Etihad Stadium in a deficit. In order to win, City will have to get Erling Haaland, who had the least amount of touches amongst all starters in the first leg, more opportunities in the final third, which I believe they will do. Comfortable at home, the English side will look to continue controlling possession and prevent Real from getting anything going. 

Ultimately, City gets a step closer to the ideal English treble by earning themself a date with either Inter Milan or A.C. Milan in the final.

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