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Five key stats ahead of Manchester City vs Real Madrid



Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Real Madrid will play their biggest match of the 2022/23 campaign till date when they take on Manchester City in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals later tonight at the Etihad Stadium.

The first leg, played at the Santiago Bernabeu last week, ended in a closely-contested 1-1 draw with goals coming from Vinicius Jr and Kevin De Bruyne.

It sets up for an exciting match-up tonight at the Etihad with both teams entering into the game on level terms.

However, as we head into the game, Pep Guardiola’s troops might have an edge playing at their home ground, where they have been exceptional this season.

Indeed, Manchester City have played 14 home games in 2023 across all competitions and won each of them, scoring 49 goals and conceding just seven. In fact, they have not lost a game on home turf since a defeat to Brentford in November 2022.

Furthermore, Man City’s last home defeat in the Champions League was all the way back in September 2018, when they were beaten 2-1 by Lyon, meaning they have gone nearly five years without losing at home in the competition. They have played 25 times at the Etihad since then and won 23.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid have never won any of their games at the Etihad Stadium, while they have not reached the UCL finals when the semi-final first leg at home ended in a draw.

So, the odds are certainly stacked against Carlo Ancelotti & co. ahead of the match. However, what works in Real Madrid’s favour is the fact that their captain Karim Benzema has a solid record at the Etihad Stadium.

The 35-year-old superstar has scored four goals in four visits to Manchester City’s home turf in the UEFA Champions League, with three of those strikes coming in his last two trips.

Another factor that could swing things in favour of the reigning European champions is the form that star forward Vinicius Jr is in currently.

The Brazilian has directly contributed towards a goal in each of his last 11 starts in the Champions League. Should he score or assist tonight, he would become the first player to contribute to a goal in 12 consecutive starts in the competition.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Pat Grey

    May 17, 2023 at 6:09 pm

    Benzema is no longer the strong and sharp forward and scorer he has been in the last three years or so. He gets easily tired these days and loses the ball quite often. He might be held at bay today by the solid Man City defense. If Vinivius plays a less selfish game and refrain from holding on to the ball and dribbling longer than is often needed, he might help Benzema in front of goal.

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Real Madrid vs Athletic Club: End of an era, farewells, tight race for second place



Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

Real Madrid will walk down the tunnel of Santiago Bernabeu one last time this season on Sunday night. The men in white are pitted against Athletic Club on their final match-day, and the game will not be an easy affair by any means.

The Basque side sit in seventh place on the league standings with 50 points in 37 appearances. However, their qualification for the UEFA Conference League is in danger with Osasuna lurking close behind with an equal number of points.

Anything less than a win could prove insufficient for the visitors and it is clear that they arrive at Santiago Bernabeu with nothing less than a win on their agenda. Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Real Madrid vs Athletic Club Bilbao.

1. The end of an era for the number 9 shirt?

Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images

The grey area around Karim Benzema’s future has only widened in recent days. From a situation where his continuity at Real Madrid was taken for granted, it did not take long for the Frenchman’s story to enter a steep deviation.

An economically tempting proposal from Saudi Arabia had Benzema seriously contemplating a move away from Santiago Bernabeu, and reports stated that his departure from the Spanish club was close to complete.

The world, thus, looked in anticipation of his next official interaction with the media. The Ballon d’Or winner publicly addressed the topic for the first time earlier this week, and it is safe to say that his words gave nothing away.

Benzema neither confirmed nor completely refuted the rumours of his exit to the media. His situation is balanced on the blade of a knife and could tip in either direction.

In that sense, there is a good chance that tomorrow’s clash at Santiago Bernabeu is Karim Benzema’s final game for Real Madrid. If the striker does choose to change loyalties, it would mark the end of an era for the team’s number nine position.

It has been over a decade since the Frenchman took over the prestigious kit. He has played 647 games for the club so far in his career, scoring a stunning 353 goals in the process. Of them, 98 have been match-winning contributions.

2. A day of farewells

Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Earlier today, Real Madrid announced the departure of Marco Asensio from the club. The Spanish winger appears set to sign for PSG for the 2023-24 season and will bid adieu on Sunday. However, he will not be the only player playing his final game for the club tomorrow.

Nacho Fernandez has been a critical part of Real Madrid’s success in recent years but is another name close to sealing an exit. The defender is not satisfied with the playing time under his belt at the club and has not yet responded to the renewal offer on his table.

With his contract running out in less than 30 days, he appears closer to leaving than staying. One can expect an announcement from Nacho on Sunday night after the game at the Bernabeu, which could be his final game in white.

The situation with Dani Ceballos is quite similar. The Spanish midfielder is still undecided on his future, although there is still a slight chance he could continue at the club. Staying on the subject of players making their final appearance, however, he could be one on the list.

Away from the stories of incomplete renewal negotiations, Mariano Diaz is one player whose departure from the club is confirmed. Ferland Mendy, Jesus Vallejo, Alvaro Odriozola and Eden Hazard are some of the other candidates well-placed to make departures, although nothing can be said for sure.

3. A tight race for second place

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

There is not much to play for on Sunday night except for the emotional tag of it being the season’s final game. Yet, the men in white will not be without an objective against Athletic Club.

Los Blancos sit on 77 points in 37 league appearances this season and just have a one-point lead over third-placed Atletico Madrid. Needless to say, they must be vary of their position on the standings for any complacency could see them drop down the ladder.

Diego Simeone’s men take on fifth-placed Villarreal at the same time as Real Madrid’s game against Athletic Club. Even if Carlo Ancelotti’s men settle for a draw against the Basque side, the second place would be Atletico Madrid’s to lose.

With both games kicking off simultaneously, there will be nerves throughout the ninety minutes in Madrid. One can only hope for action-filled games to keep the anxiety and adrenaline high.

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