Big Game Focus: Real Madrid v Manchester City


European giants Real Madrid welcome Manchester City for a massive Champions League Round of 16 first leg showdown tonight. This is City’s first game after they were struck with a two-year ban from the competition. Can Pep Guardiola get an advantage over his old adversaries? Here’s the Big Game Focus. Bet on the game here. 

It’s reasonable to say that Real Madrid aren’t quite at their best right now. They lost 1-0 at Levante on Saturday to leave them two points behind Barcelona in the race for the Liga title. Their problems were compounded by the loss of Eden Hazard who suffered another injury setback. Zinedine Zidane’s side have certainly improved this season but their home form in this competition is wanting. Can they do a number Guardiola?

Pep Guardiola will be well aware of the importance of the Champions League to City after they were banned from the competition for the next two years. They are desperate to get their hands on the trophy for the first time, considering their defence of the Premier League title looks unlikely. Guardiola also renews his extra-special rivalry with the hosts. Can Pep get his 10th win over Los Blancos?

Betting preview

Manchester City have lost just one of their last 15 Champions League matches. Pep Guardiola has faced Real Madrid 17 times as a manager for both Barcelona and Bayern Munich, winning nine times, drawing four and losing four. Madrid’s home form in their last few matches in this competition has been unimpressive. They have won just four times in their last ten home games. Therefore, you can back a Manchester City Double Chance at odds of 1.45.

With both teams boasting some of Europe’s best attacking talent, this encounter should be entertaining. Three of Madrid’s last five games in this competition have seen both teams find the net. Both teams have scored in City’s last four Champions League games. You can back Both Teams to Score at odds of 1.55. 

Seven of City’s last nine away games in the Champions League have seen at least three goals.  Seven of Madrid’s last eight games in this competition have seen three or more goals scored. For that reason, you can back Over 2.5 Goals in this game at odds of 1.65.  

Team news

The hosts will be without Eden Hazard. The Belgian international could miss the remainder of the season after suffering a fractured ankle against Levante. His loss may give Vinícius Júnior a chance to keep his place in the side. Marco Asensio is building on his fitness while Gareth Bale remains a doubt given his recent illness.

Raheem Sterling is back after three weeks out with a hamstring injury and is in contention to start against Madrid.  However, Leroy Sane isn’t yet match fit and continues with his recovery from six months out with an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Possible line-ups

Real Madrid: Courtois, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Mendy, Modric, Isco, Casemiro, Kroos, Júnior, Benzema.

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Fernandinho, Laporte, Mendy, De Bruyne, Rodri, Gündogan, Mahrez, Agüero, Bernado