Real Madrid vs Manchester City Champions League preview 

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020 2:50pm

By Ali McDowall

Pep Guardiola’s men face European giants Real Madrid at the Bernabeu tonight in a season-defining fixture for the sky blues. 

Manchester City head into the the first leg of their last-16 tie against Zinedine Zidane’s Madrid with dampened spirits having been suspended from the competition for the next two seasons by UEFA.

With Liverpool’s relentless march on the Premier League title and City losing a bit of their swagger from last season, their prospects are looking bleak.

The Premier League champions are under immense pressure now to succeed in their quest for an elusive first Champions League crown and face a tough task against a formidable Real Madrid team to progress to the quarter-finals. 

They will have to overcome a swathe of history against Los Blancos as City have never beaten Real Madrid and have been knocked out in all three of their previous two-legged European ties with Spanish opposition. 

However, Saturday’s win at Leicester was the perfect appetizer for such an important evening in the Manchester club’s season. 

Guardiola is not underestimating the challenge ahead of his side and said in his pre-match presser: “"We have to be strong, have quality and need to have luck. 

“You need incredible concentration in our game and game plan, plus try to be a little lucky.”

Meanwhile Madrid are enduring a rough patch of their own in an otherwise fine season for Zidane and co. 

The 13-time winners of the competition come into the tie off the back of a shock 1-0 defeat at the hands of Levante in La Liga that saw rivals Barcelona leapfrog them into pole position. 

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The result follows a defeat earlier this month to Real Sociedad that brought their Copa Del Rey campaign to an abrupt halt. 

Crashing out of the Champions League stage in the first knockout round for a second season running will be pretty disastrous for Madrid, even more so if their underwhelming form continues domestically.

Zidane downplayed the club’s recent run of form and said pre-match: "Just because we've had a couple of poor results, it doesn’t mean we’re doing that badly. 

“This game is Madrid v City, it’s not Guardiola versus Zidane. It’s a football match, that’s what people want to see.”

Zidane has won all 12 Champions League ties he has been involved in as Madrid manager and currently holds three Champions League trophies as a head coach, a joint-record alongside Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti.

Team News

Madrid

Eden Hazard picked up an injury in Madrid's loss to Levante and is expected to be missing for a large part of what remains of the season.

Marco Asensio is edging closer to a return to action following a serious knee injury but this game is expected to come too soon for him.

Zidane has a decision to make on whether to recall Gareth Bale, who has struggled to hold down a place in the side this term and missed out against Levante at the weekend due to a sickness bug.

Manchester City

Raheem Sterling was expected to miss this clash but the attacker has a chance of featuring and is likely to start if passed fit.

Guardiola is confident centre-back Aymeric Laporte will be fit to feature despite limping off inside an hour against Leicester with a knock.

Leroy Sane has been closing in on a return to first-team action, but this match is expected to come too soon for his comeback.

Pep is likely to stick with Sergio Aguero through the middle despite the striker's recent below-par displays and Gabriel Jesus' winner from the bench versus Leicester.

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