Manchester City vs Real Madrid Prediction, Odds & Picks

  • The Champions League resumes on Friday and this is a difficult match to call
  • Manchester City hold the aggregate advantage but Real Madrid is in a better place
  • Madrid will make it a nervy night for City but the Premier League side should squeeze through

Manchester City vs Real Madrid Odds

To win at least one half
Manchester City -315
Real Madrid +140


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Manchester City vs Real Madrid Predictions and Picks

This game could be a case of irresistible force versus the immovable object. Manchester City are arguably the best-attacking team in Europe and recently ended another Premier League season with more than 100 goals to their name. Real Madrid, meanwhile, won the La Liga title by consistently keeping clean sheets in the run-in.

City won 2-1 in the first leg back in February, but Madrid are in much better shape now than they were back then. They might not be able to overturn the deficit, but they should – at the very least – win one half of Friday’s encounter.

City’s defensive problems, together with a difficult balancing act given their first-leg lead, means Madrid should come out on top over 45 minutes – although they will probably not do enough to advance to the next round.


Real Madrid to win at least one half -315

Manchester City vs Real Madrid Information
What Manchester City vs Real Madrid
Where Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England
When Friday, 7 August, 3PM ET
How to Watch CBS Sports Network

Much Has Changed in Five Months and Madrid Stand to Benefit

The world is virtually unrecognizable from the time Manchester City won 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu in late February. This last-16, second-leg encounter was originally due to be held in March, but European soccer’s enforced hiatus means it will be played five months later than planned, and with no supporters present at the Etihad Stadium.

City was excellent in the first leg in Madrid. They fell behind to an Isco strike on the hour mark but did not panic, and goals from Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne late on gave them a 2-1 victory.

In many ways, it felt like a coming-of-age display in Europe. City has won more Premier League titles than any other team over the last decade, but they have consistently underperformed in the Champions League, reaching just one semi-final since they joined Europe’s elite. Against Madrid in February, City looked like a genuine European force for the first time.

But Madrid, it is fair to say, were not in the best place back in late February. Since La Liga resumed in June they have looked like a team transformed, winning 10 games in a row to beat Barcelona to the Spanish title. During that stretch, Zinedine Zidane’s men kept six clean sheets and displayed the sort of balance and control that should give City cause for concern.

City’s Defensive Frailties Mean This Tie Is Far From Over

Another fear for City supporters is their team’s lack of defensive solidity. On the face of it, the numbers do not point to a weakness in that area of the pitch – City finished the Premier League campaign with the second-best defensive record, with first-placed Liverpool conceding only two fewer goals.

However, although Guardiola’s side kept more clean sheets than any other team in the division, their backline is liable to fall apart in a way that Madrid’s and Liverpool’s seldom do. City’s decent defensive numbers in the Premier League are largely because they dominate possession in virtually every match they play and are thus able to keep weaker opponents away from their goal. When they come up against stronger adversaries, their defensive unit can wilt under pressure.

Madrid will hope to exploit that weakness on Friday, particularly in transition. The question is whether they can offer enough counter-attacking punch against City’s possession, with the hosts likely to start quickly in an attempt to pin Madrid back and increase their aggregate deal. If Los Blancos can get to the 30-minute mark with the score at 0-0, they will still believe they can make it through.

Madrid Will Bank on Their Superior Champions League Experience

Madrid will also hope that their added experience in the knockout stage of the Champions League will aid their attempts to reach the quarter-finals. Multiple members of their current side were involved in the triumphs of 2016, 2017, and 2018, and Madrid knows what it takes to go deep in this competition.

Yet for all that the La Liga champions should not be written off, this remains City’s tie to lose. Madrid will need to score at least twice to have a chance of progression; at the same time, they will also need to restrict a magnificent attacking unit that scored four times against a side as good as Liverpool last month. This is unlikely to be a comfortable match for City, but winning at the Etihad Stadium – a must if Madrid is to progress – is still a tall order despite the home team’s shortcomings.

Guardiola will be desperate to win the Champions League this term, having failed to do so since leaving Barcelona in 2012. He has been criticized for overthinking knockout games in the past, but the Catalan will probably stick with his tried and trusted in terms of personnel and formation for the visit of Madrid. Zidane’s team is capable of making life difficult for City, but winning this second leg will probably be out of reach.

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Greg Lea

Expert on Soccer

Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]