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With their 35th La Liga title sealed courtesy of Saturday’s 4-0 win over Espanyol, Real Madrid can focus everything on overhauling their one-goal deficit to Manchester City in this UEFA Champions League (UCL) semi-final second leg. With manager Carlo Ancelotti able to rest key players and still wrap up the title, they’re in good shape although David Alaba is one big absentee due to injury.
The Austrian wasn’t alone in struggling in Manchester where Madrid lost 4-3 and suffered their second straight defeat by a one-goal margin to English opponents. Better news is that they’ve scored 2+ goals in six of their last seven competitive home fixtures (W5, L2), and haven’t lost the home leg of a UCL semi-final since 2010/11 (W5, D3), including a 1-0 H2H win here in 2015/16.
A repeat would force this tie into extra-time but having kept clean sheets in both previous away legs of their UCL knockout ties this term, City will travel with some confidence, especially after beating Leeds 4-0 at the weekend to return to the Premier League summit. This is, however, just their third appearance in the UCL’s last four having lost 1-0 on aggregate against Madrid in 2015/16, and like their hosts they are unable to field their first-choice backline.
The ‘Cityzens’ have made great strides since then though, losing just four of their last 25 UCL matches played on foreign soil (W17, D4), including a 2-1 win here in the round of 16 in 2019/20, before they went on to win the second leg by the same scoreline.
Players to watch: Madrid’s Karim Benzema is the first man to net 40+ competitive goals in one season for the club since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure and with nine UCL knockout stage goals this term, he’s one short of levelling another of his former teammate’s records. Meanwhile, Man City’s Kevin De Bruyne opened the scoring in two of their last three UCL fixtures.
Hot stat: Madrid have never progressed to a UCL/European Cup final after losing the semi-final first leg.
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