What: UEFA Champions League – Group D
Who: Real Madrid vs Manchester City
When: Tuesday 18th September, 2012, at 19:45 UK time
Where: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain
With another loss, this time to Sevilla at the weekend, Real Madrid can safely be considered to be a club in crisis. With just four points after an equal amount of games into the league season, the current Spanish champions are already trailing the top of the pile by a whopping eight points. Now, the team will have to reorganise themselves very quickly as they prepare their Champions League campaign for the 2012/13 season, with a match against Premier League champions Manchester City first up.
68 seconds were all that it took for Sevilla to break the deadlock against what is supposed to be one of the greatest teams on the planet, as Real Madrid could not recover for the remainder of the game. Even at such an early stage of the campaign, retaining the league crown with such poor form seems farfetched.
Now with eyes locked firmly on their first Champions League game, Jose Mourinho is not underestimating the Citizens.
“There are some things that money can’t buy — trophies and history”, insisted the Portuguese coach, while singling out Manchester City’s danger men. “I don’t like to speak about opponents individually, but it is no problem to say that we respect Carlos Tevez a lot. I also know Mario Balotelli and the player he is because we were together at Inter for two years and so he certainly has nothing to prove to me.”
Having failed in both the Champions League and Europa League last season, Manchester City are on another run for European supremacy. Fortified in every way after clinching the Premier League title on the last day of the 2011/12 season, the Citizens will be hoping for better luck this time around. However, pitted in a group that contains Ajax, Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid, qualifying is easier said than done.
Manchester City strengthened their squad in the summer transfer window, luring names such as Jack Rodwell, Javi Garcia and Maicon to Eastlands. However, their start to the campaign has not been almighty, winning two and drawing two of their Premier League matches so far.
But despite having had problems on the road this term, left-back Aleksandar Kolarov remains certain that this will not be an easy night for the hosts.
“We are the champions of England and it will not be an easy night for Real as well”, he said before praising opponent Cristiano Ronaldo. “He is a special player – along with Lionel Messi he is the best player in the world. So to play against someone like that will be a big test.”
With their opponents low on confidence, now would be the perfect time for Roberto Mancini’s team to strike and go for all three points, as they attempt to negotiate their way through the group.
Real Madrid 2-1 Barcelona (29/08; Super Cup)
Real Madrid 3-0 Granada (02/09; La Liga)
Sevilla 1-0 Real Madrid (15/09; La Liga)
Liverpool 2-2 Manchester City (26/08; Premier League)
Manchester City 3-1 Queen Park Rangers (01/09; Premier League)
Stoke City 1-1 Manchester City (15/09; Premier League)
Real Madrid: None
Manchester City: Pablo Zabaleta; Sergio Aguero; Micah Richards
Players to watch
Real Madrid – Cristiano Ronaldo: It is times like these where Real Madrid look to their talisman, but Ronaldo seems to have his own share of problems off the pitch at the moment. Winning this first game will be crucial for Los Merengues and there is no better man to guide them to victory than the 2008 Ballon d’Or winner, if he can regain focus.
Manchester City – Vincent Kompany: The Belgian international is without a doubt one of the toughest centre-backs in the world today. Kompany was voted Premier League Player of the Season last year in a sign of his importance to Manchester City. Against Real Madrid’s cunning and fearsome attack, the Citizens captain will need to marshal his defence.
Another slip up would be a catastrophe for Real Madrid, with the team already in enough trouble as it is. Fighting in another competition, Los Blancos will hope for a fresh start. However, Mourinho’s men look lost at the moment and this Manchester City clash may have arrived too soon. Expect a draw. Real Madrid 1-1 Manchester City.
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