Real Madrid vs Man City Preview ~ Dynasty vs Renaissance

By Gilad Nagar – 15/05/2023

Just like poetry in motion, it all comes down to one game. Manchester City and Real Madrid: two behemoth’s of European football and two side’s whose overall dominance in the 2010s will be remembered for years to come. Despite having two separate narratives in the UEFA Champions League, Wednesday’s semi-final clash is of quintessential significance for both. For Real Madrid, the opportunity to reinforce their historic dynasty with a 6th UCL trophy in 9 years. For Manchester City, the opportunity to re-write the plethora of European woes by capturing their first ever Champions League trophy. 

Nevertheless, Guardiola and Ancelotti’s managerial bout is not necessarily a title decider given the other side of the draw. The winner of this clash will have to face one of AC Milan or Inter Milan in the final. However, it feels as if this match will determine this season’s UCL winners given that either side will arrive in Istanbul the clear favourites. 

With an instant classic waiting to be played, let’s take a look at the first leg and both teams’ news before Wednesday’s UCL semi-final!


(Photo by Alex Livesey – Danehouse/Getty Images)

The enthralling tie between The Citizens and Los Blancos began with a 1-1 draw in Madrid. Two beautiful strikes from Vinicius Junior and Kevin De Bruyne found the back of the net in what was an evening decided by the finest of margins.

Beginning exactly how most football aficionados would expect, Real and City emphasized their style of play and tactical approaches from the get-go. The hosts were willing to absorb all of Manchester City’s pressure and ball retention whilst staying solid and rigid in defence. Whilst Guardiola’s side maintained the majority of the ball, Los Blancos’ air-tight defensive shape meant that City could only muster a total of 0.35 xG from 6 total shots. Offensively, Madrid were able to play directly to Benzema who released the duress applied on their back line. The Frenchman’s excellent hold up play allowed him to release one of Rodrygo and Vinicius in behind. Likewise, Los Blancos highlighted their composure on the ball by playing out of City’s press on multiple occasions. For example, Vinicius Junior’s goal came from calm ball use from Camavinga and Modric in their defensive half.

For Manchester City, the first half also panned out exactly how they imagined. Bar Vinicius’ wonder strike, Guardiola would’ve been content with his side holding the lion share of possession and slowly chipping away at Madrid’s defence. Along with holding 68% possession, the first half was especially impressive given Real only mustered one shot. 

The second half of the fixture was far more even but no real chances were created. Overall, the opener at the Bernabeu was a game of tight margins and moments. With only 1 big chance being created, both Guardiola and Ancelotti were looking for individual brilliance to shine through; Kevin De Bruyne and Vinicius Junior stepped up on the night. Given the elevated quality and confidence of both Real and City, you would expect the second leg at the Etihad will look quite similar to the opener. 


(Photo by Lexy Ilsley – Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

Fortunately for Manchester City, the mid-week UCL clash will see them with a nearly complete squad once again. The only absentee currently would be Dutchman Nathan Ake. The 28 year old was forced to be withdrawn in City’s 2-1 win against Leeds and is a doubt for Wednesday night. 

In City’s 3-0 victory against Everton, Guardiola made the wise decision to rest a few important players before Real Madrid. From the first leg’s opening lineup, both John Stones and Kevin De Bruyne did not appear in Merseyside. Starting wingers Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva were also on the sidelines for majority of the game and only came on for 12 minutes.

This weekend’s Premier League results will also be a breath of fresh air for Manchester City. With Arsenal losing 3-0 to Brighton at home, the league is all but wrapped up and in The Citizens hands. Psychologically, it allows City to put all their efforts into this coming mid-week match and put their foot off the gas domestically. 

Despite Guardiola’s typical nerves being on show, Manchester City should arrive on matchday nothing but confident. In all competitions, the Sky Blues are 22 games without a loss and haven’t lost since the 5th of February. City’s home form is even more impressive, having not lost at the Etihad since the 12th of November of 2022; that’s 17 games unbeaten on their own turf. 

With a potential renaissance of their European form, Manchester City will be primed for Real Madrid and will come into the game feeling ready to break their UCL cold-streak.


(Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

Just like the first leg, Real Madrid will arrive in England with all first team players available for selection. Very intelligently, Carlo Ancelotti was not willing to risk any probable starters and rested the likes of Rudiger, Alaba, Carvajal, Benzema and Rodrygo. In fact, the Italian boss made 9 changes to his starting lineup from the City game to their weekend clash against Getafe.

In La Liga’s 34th round, Los Blancos defeated relegation bound side Getafe 1-0 thanks to an Asensio goal in the 70th minute. That performance won’t decrease Ancelotti’s confidence in his side on Wednesday, given it is a largely different side. 

More worryingly though for Real Madrid has been their away form. In their last 2 matches on the road, Real have lost to Griona and Real Sociedad 4-2 and 2-0 respectively. Whilst those two sides are in contention for European football next season, Los Blancos will not be pleased with their below average away performances.

With Barcelona officially crowned the 2022/23 La Liga champions, Real Madrid will not want to end this campaign with a less impressive trophy haul than their fiercest rivals. Hence, Los Blancos could be more motivated and eager to reach the UCL final come Wednesday. 


Full time result: 

Man City: 1.60 

Draw: 4.20 

Real Madrid: 5.25 

Goals Over / Under 2.5:

Over: 1.57

Under: 2.37

To Qualify:
Man City: 1.28 

Real Madrid: 3.50 


Manchester City: 

Ederson, Walker, Dias, Akanji, Stones, Rodri, Silva, De Bruyne, Gundogan Grealish, Haaland 

Real Madrid: 

Courtois, Carvajal, Rudiger, Alaba, Camavinga, Valverde, Kroos, Modric, Rodrygo, Benzema, Vinicius 


Despite history dictating that once football fans count Real Madrid out they find a way to win, unfortunately for Los Blancos we think that history is finally going to be re-written. 

Manchester City’s unprecedented home form and ability to grind out results just edges it for us. With Haaland being largely quiet in the first leg, he will be more motivated to perform at his best and we predict a ‘Man of the Match’ performance from the Norwegian. 

We say: 2-1 Manchester City

(Photo by Matt McNulty – Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

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