For the first time in more than a decade, is this the season where Pep reigns supreme in the Champions League?
After a first leg that ended in a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu, the score may be level. But home advantage means Pep Guardiola’s side ostensibly hold the upper hand in Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final.
It’s not wise to rule Real out
Real Madrid need to get the better of Manchester City at the Etihad. But it’s not like the Spanish side don’t have a flair for pulling off improbable results in this competition.
A year ago, playing the same opposition, Carlo Ancelotti’s side were literally moments from exiting the competition. Yet Rodrygo scored twice in stoppage time to level the score – before Karim Benzema’s extra time penalty won the match.
True, Real had home advantage on that occasion; perhaps that helped carry them over the line when the jig looked well and truly up. But is it ever wise to rule out a team that has won this competition 14 times, more than any other team? Especially when five of those victories have come in the last ten years?
Real are reigning champions, having beaten Liverpool in the final last year; that despite Jurgen Klopp’s side registering nine shots on target to Real’s two at Paris’ Stade de France. Real are brilliant at winning this competition – even when not playing especially brilliantly.
That said, Real are unlikely to face a tougher opponent than this Man City side. Guardiola’s team look certainties for the Premier League title, and can clinch a historic treble if they also win the FA Cup and the Champions League.
Will Kevin de Bruyne provide the big moment?
None of that looks especially outlandish, with City on another long unbeaten run; in the Premier League, they’ve won 13 of their last 14.
Real’s own form is spottier; they’ve lost twice in the last month, both on the road. Does it matter, though? They’ve been underestimated in this competition plenty of times before. Yet still they endure.
Will we be saying the same on Wednesday night? Will Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema combine to stomp on Pep’s dream? Or is this City side simply too unforgiving to let the game get away from them?
Even if it’s a rare occasion where the unstoppable Erling Haaland is, well, stopped, other players can step forward. Last week, Kevin de Bruyne provided the big moment.
Perhaps this week it will be Phil Foden. Or Bernardo Silva. Or Ilkay Gundogan, who has four goals in his last two league games.
The likely outcome is City to make the final – yet all things are possible. With Real’s pedigree, it would be no shock to see the Spanish side at least force extra time, so backing the draw at 17/5 might be worth chancing; if you simply can’t see City making a hash of things on home turf though, it might be better to back goals; over 3.5 in the Total Goals market is a 6/4 shot.
To bet on a wide range of markets, visit 32Red Sport today. If you’re looking for a different kind of flutter, check out our 32Red Casino site. There’s plenty of slots and table games to keep you entertained!