Man City vs Real Madrid: What to expect in Champions League semi-final second leg

City will take a one-goal advantage to the Spanish capital

Andy Hampson
Wednesday 27 April 2022 13:46 BST
Manchester City will face Real Madrid again next week after edging a thrilling contest on Tuesday (Mike Egerton/PA)
Manchester City will face Real Madrid again next week after edging a thrilling contest on Tuesday (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)

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Louise Thomas

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Manchester City claimed the initiative in their Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid with a 4-3 victory in the first leg on Tuesday.

But after such a compelling and open contest, the tie is far from over.

Here, we look at how City stand ahead of next week’s return leg at the Bernabeu.

What happened in Manchester?

Pep Guardiola’s side were exhilarating in attack and carved out plenty of chances aside from the four they scored. They could even have put the tie out of sight in the opening half-hour, such was their early dominance.

Will City regret only having a one-goal lead?

They could. The Premier League leaders will undoubtedly take encouragement from the ease with which they cut through Real at times and in that sense they have nothing to fear at the Bernabeu. But the atmosphere will be hostile and their defensive weaknesses will have given Real hope, particularly with the likes of Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior looking deadly.

How much did they miss Joao Cancelo?

Cancelo missed the first leg through suspension (Mike Egerton/PA)
Cancelo missed the first leg through suspension (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)

The Portuguese was sorely missed as he served a one-match ban after collecting his third booking of the competition against Atletico Madrid last time out. With Kyle Walker also missing through injury, City lacked dynamism in the full-back positions. John Stones was rushed back from injury himself to play at right-back but this backfired as he hobbled out to be replaced by veteran midfielder Fernandinho. This was very much a makeshift solution.

Will he be back next week?

With his excellent delivery and potency in attack, Cancelo will almost certainly return to give City extra options on either the right or left – depending on Walker’s fitness – next week.

How is Walker?

Walker has an ankle injury (Nick Potts/PA)
Walker has an ankle injury (Nick Potts/PA) (PA Wire)

This remains unclear. The England right-back has missed four matches since being forced off with an ankle problem in that bruising quarter-final second leg against Atletico a fortnight ago. Guardiola has so far been vague as to how serious the problem is. He said last week Walker was “much better” and might have had a chance to play on Tuesday but this obviously did not transpire.

What lies ahead for both teams this weekend?

While Real are on the brink of claiming the Spanish title, and therefore could rest a number of key players without fear against Espanyol this weekend, for City things are not as straightforward. With just a point between them and Liverpool at the top of the Premier League, they have little margin for error as they travel to Leeds on Saturday.

Will City rotate their team at Elland Road?

Guardiola will undoubtedly make some changes with Raheem Sterling, Ilkay Gundogan and Jack Grealish likely starters. But there is less scope for rotation in defence. Guardiola would also be reluctant to rest the talismanic Kevin De Bruyne, although his thinking could be influenced by the result of Liverpool’s result at Newcastle, which takes place earlier in the day.

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