Manchester City v Real Madrid: La Liga champs different side from first-leg

Real Madrid have improved significantly since losing their Champions League home leg to Manchester City and Dan Fitch thinks they are being underestimated.

Manchester City 1.76 v Real Madrid 4.50; The Draw 4.60
Friday 7 August, 20:00
Live on BT Sport 1

City and Guardiola have a lot to prove

How Manchester City fare in this Champions League campaign will determine whether this season can be viewed positively, or as a disappointment.

With City having only won the EFL Cup domestically, the Champions League is their final chance to win another trophy this season. It's a competition that they've never seriously challenged for, despite dominating English football at times. Their best run came under Manuel Pellegrini in 2015-16, when they reached the semi-final and lost to Real Madrid.

Since Pep Guardiola took charge, the quarter-finals is as far as City have gone. With Guardiola also failing to win the Champions League at Bayern Munich, there's something for him to prove on a personal level.

Sergio Aguero remains injured and is a big loss for Guardiola. Cladio Bravo is also injured, while Benjamin Mendy is suspended.

Madrid have improved since first-leg loss

Real Madrid have a huge task ahead of them, but it no longer looks as daunting as it did back in February, when they lost the home leg 2-1.

Back then, Madrid were in the midst of a very poor spell that threatened to ruin their season. When they returned to action after lockdown, they were a different side. An unbeaten run of eleven games (W10 D1), saw Zinedine Zidane's side recover lost ground on Barcelona and win the La Liga title.

It was the first time that Real had won the Spanish league since 2017. They have won the Champions League in four of the last six seasons and at least now look to have a chance of adding to that tally.

If there's a worry for Zidane, it's that Sergio Ramos is unavailable through suspension, after being sent off in the first-leg. Ramos was Madrid's most consistent performer during the title run in.

Champions are underrated

Manchester City are the 1.76 favourites to win, with Real Madrid at 4.50 and the draw at 4.60.

That price looks a little short for the hosts, who can progress with a draw, or even a 1-0 loss. Real Madrid are full of confidence and as they are not expected to progress, are in the unusual position of being able to play without much pressure.

The odds of 2.20 for Real Madrid to avoid defeat in the Double Chance market look generous, considering that they are on an eleven match unbeaten run. Manchester City have lost three of their twelve games since the season resumed (W9).

Goals will flow again

Madrid were excellent defensively over the last few weeks of the Spanish season, but without Ramos and against a team as good going forward as City, they seem likely to concede.

So too, do Manchester City, whose defensive problems remain. Eden Hazard could be back for Real Madrid after injury and they looked very dangerous while the Belgian was in the team, before playing more pragmatically when he was ruled out.

Both teams to score and over 2.5 goals is 1.80 and landed in the first-leg. At a bigger price of 2.30 you can back for there to be over 1.5 first-half goals.

Benzema could be on spot kick duties

There are some big prices available in the Anytime Goalscorer market, with Gabriel Jesus the favourite at 2.50, ahead of Raheem Sterling at 2.60.

For Real Madrid, Karim Benzema looks value at 3.00. Benzema's form was key to Madrid winning La Liga and with Ramos suspended, he should be taking penalties.

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