On Wednesday evening, the European heavyweights Real Madrid and Manchester City will face each other in the eighth finals of the Champions League. The Spaniards go after Ajax last year looking for rehab, while the English hunt for their very first European grand prize.
With no less than thirteen tournament wins, Real Madrid can call itself the very best club in the history of the Champions League. Especially between 2016 and 2018, the Spaniards made an impression by being the first club ever to win the Cup with the Big Ears three times in a row.
Nevertheless, in the eyes of the bookmakers, Real Madrid is just an outsider for tournament winnings this season. Los Blancos have taken off a substantial jacket since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, as it became painfully clear last season in the defeat of Ajax in the eighth finals of the Champions League. Zinedine Zidane, however, is a smart coach. By shifting some tactical accents, the Frenchman managed to put together a competitive team again. The game of the current Real Madrid is no longer as spectacular as a few seasons ago, but thanks to a solid defense the Madrilenians are again taking part in the prizes. It is significant that controller Casemiro is one of the most famous Real Madrid players of the moment. However, the lack of scoring ability will worry Zidane. Since December 18 last year, the nine Real Madrid attackers have jointly scored only nine goals. That is of course far too little for a football giant like Real Madrid.
Roughly a week and a half ago, UEFA shook Etihad Stadium to its foundations, after it announced that Manchester City would be banned from European football for the next two seasons because of breaking the Financial Fair Play rules. The English have, of course, appealed this decision, but this potential punishment may well be an additional motivation for the Pep Ensiola star ensemble to play the Champions League right now.
The pressure on Manchester City is immense, because the diptych against Real Madrid is the last chance to save the season. In the Premier League, the Citizens are miles behind Liverpool, while the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup are only consolation prizes in the eyes of the wealthy club owners. No, the only thing that would put a smile on President Khaldoon Al Mubarak’s face is winning the Champions League. The selection of Guardiola of course protrudes from the quality, although this does not always come out on the field this season. Thanks to recent victories at West Ham United (2-0) and Leicester City (0-1), The Sky Blues can work towards this squatter with confidence.