Man City to pay for shy Etihad showing at fortress Real Madrid
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini was correct in citing a 0-0 stalemate is the most preferable scoreline, if a team is to be held at home in a two-legged European tie.
Even so, his side’s inability to register at least a goal against Real Madrid is likely be their downfall.
Although City’s best Champions League performances have been saved for the road this season, the signs are a little ominous heading to the Bernabeu for the second instalment of their semi-final.
Real Madrid’s imposing arena has proven to be an impenetrable European fortress in 2015/16. Europa League semi-finalists Shakhtar were the first to taste defeat in the Spanish capital, suffering a 4-0 defeat to Los Blancos in their opening group match.
Since that initial win without concession, Paris St-Germain, Malmo, Roma and Wolfsburg were sent packing without finding their way onto the scoresheet.
At home in the Champions League this season, Real boast an aggregate score of 18-0. Rafael Benitez will never get the credit after being replaced by playing legend Zinedine Zidane mid-season, but the 10-time European champions have looked more organised from the outset during this edition.
It’s as short as 6/4 with Ladbrokes that Real Madrid record a sixth successive win to nil when the teams clash again in a week’s time.
With Pepe and Sergio Ramos excelling in the heart of the Spaniards’ defence at the Etihad Stadium – limiting City to a single shot on target on the night and four in total – the ultra-experienced duo will be confident of nullifying their opponents once more.
Losing David Silva so early on in the first leg was undoubtedly a shaping factor to the game, as the Spanish international is a master craftsman when it comes to creating chances.
Being robbed of Yaya Toure’s dynamism was another issue that stifled City’s threat.
However, with Real Madrid stripped of their most potent weapon, Cristiano Ronaldo, Pellegrini’s tactics were still too cautious.
Fernandinho and Fernando did offer decent protection to their defence as they patrolled in tandem though neither were prepared to gamble to offer extra numbers in attack and Raheem Sterling was introduced too late to get into the game – after another ineffectual display in a catalogue of many from Jesus Navas.
Sergio Aguero was left to feed off scraps and failed to register a shot on target.
A 2-2 draw in Paris against PSG will offer the Premier League club encouragement, but with Ronaldo due back for the decisive match and Real so solid on their own turf in the competition, the Spanish outfit have to be fancied at 4/9 to reach the final.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.