Manchester City v Real Madrid – Champions League Semi-Final Decider
Written By: Natasha Turkington
Natasha Turkington was born and bred in Manchester, and is considered one of soccer’s most prolific and knowledgeable fans. Follow her on Twitter at @natashaturk.
This second-leg fixture is undeniably a humdinger, not only for the fans of the teams involved but also for Manchester United fans like myself who are anxiously hoping City lose their grip on a treble-winning season.
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City hold the edge going into this highly anticipated clash with having the home advantage. The first leg finished 1-1 at Santiago Bernabeu last week. To many, the upcoming fixture at the Etihad in East Manchester is considered a de-facto final.
Champions of England vs Champions of Europe
It feels inconceivable to me that Real Madrid are in fact the underdogs in this tie. Madrid has won the Champions League a record 14 times, including last season after knocking out Pep Guardiola’s men in dramatic circumstances in the exact same semi-final game.
Fierce rivals Barcelona have already won the 2022/23 La Liga season, and Real Madrid are by no way guaranteed the second spot with Atletico Madrid hot on their heels. With my very biased Manchester United hat on, I am hoping losing the league will only spur Madrid on in their quest to win a record-breaking 15th Champions League Final.
Heading into the game, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has called up all his players for the trip to Manchester. Eduardo Camavinga, who picked up an injury against Getafe over the weekend, has been named on the list and is expected to be fit and ready for the game.
Soccer superstar Karim Benzema scored an incredible 15 goals in the competition last season and has won five Champions League titles with Madrid. He is is among the all-time top goal scorers with 90 goals after Cristiano Ronaldo (140), Lionel Messi (129) and Robert Lewandowski (91).
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Manchester City are unbeaten since early February and are yet to break their Champions League curse; despite billions of dollars invested in the squad and club, they have only ever surpassed this stage of the competition once in their history.
Once again, it will be all eyes on City’s 6’4 striker Erling Haaland who continues to break soccer records in what feels like every single week he kicks a ball. The 22-year-old recently became the player with the most goals scored in a Premier League season after he scored 35 goals in 34 games (WTF!).
Haaland has a staggering 51 goals to his name across all competitions in the ongoing season, with 12 of those scored in the Champions League. Frighteningly he is only five goals short of Cristiano Ronaldo’s record in a single Champions League season – 17 for Real Madrid in 2013/14.
The Norwegian International is yet to play against Real Madrid in a competitive match – his only appearance against the side was in a pre-season friendly in 2019 when he played for RB Salzburg.
Manchester City: -165
Real Madrid: +400
Will it be the Haaland who storms his team into the final, or will the sublime soccer veteran Benzema send the Manchester City fans home with their head in their hands?
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