Manchester City v Real Madrid – The key questions after first leg of semi-final
Manchester City and Real Madrid fought out a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final at the Bernabeu Stadium on Tuesday.
They now head to the Etihad next week with all to play for.
Here, the PA news agency looks at what lies in store in the return clash.
Does home advantage now give City the edge?
City will certainly feel confident heading back to the Etihad with the tie level. They have won all their Champions League games there this season, including beating RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich 7-0 and 3-0 respectively in the knockout stages, and have lost just once in the Premier League. Manager Pep Guardiola said on Tuesday that City “feel comfortable with our people” and midfielder Jack Grealish went as far as to say the team feel “unstoppable” at home.
Yet the tie could still go either way couldn’t it?
Of course it could. City played very well at the Bernabeu and the draw was the least they deserved, but they still gave up chances. Both goalkeepers made excellent saves at various points and the scoreline could easily have been different. City will be well aware Real, with the likes of Karim Benzema, Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo in the side, are more than good enough to take chances next time.
How much will Real’s big-game experience matter?
As 14-time champions and holders, Real showed last year, when they were not favourites in any of their knockout ties prior to the final, the weight of their reputation can be a huge factor, as City discovered first hand. After coming away from the intimidating Bernabeu – the scene of last year’s capitulation – with a share of the spoils this time, however, City will hope to have negated this. They can now look back on 12 months ago positively, when they beat Real in the first leg of their semi-final at home. They also saw off Real in 2020 and will believe they can do so again.
What possible changes to the line-ups could there be?
As both sides have had a good look at each other now, either manager could try to alter things to make a difference. City had some good options on the bench at the Bernabeu that could give them some variety next time, notably in the attacking threat of Julian Alvarez and Riyad Mahrez and playmaker Phil Foden, all of whom have impressed at different stages this season. Real’s tactics bordered on the rough at times and they could toughen up further and really try to disrupt City’s flow with Eder Militao available again after suspension. Aurelien Tchouameni is another defensive option.
Could games this weekend affect the picture?
In City’s case, possibly so. They have to travel to Everton on Sunday for what is likely to be a tense occasion. That game carries huge significance at both ends of the table. City need to press home their advantage in the title race, while Everton are scrapping for survival. Easing off could cost City as they look to maintain their challenge on three fronts. Real, by contrast, are out of contention for the LaLiga title and could rest a number of players for their clash with Getafe on Saturday. They will also have an extra day’s recovery before the game.