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City visits Los Merengues

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Manchester City, reigning champions of the UEFA UEFA Champions Leaguehave their sights set on conquering another formidable opponent. This time, they head to the majestic arena of the Santiago Bernabeu to take on Spanish titans Real Madrid in the first game of their quarter-final clash, scheduled for Tuesday.

The Match Preview

The upcoming encounter marks the continuation of a fascinating saga between City and Madrid, spanning three consecutive seasons on the high-intensity battleground of Europe's premier club competition.

In their previous meetings, Los Blancos emerged victorious in a thrilling semi-final clash during their triumphant 2021-22 campaign, while Manchester City claimed supremacy on their way to glory in the following year.

These historic clashes have witnessed a spectacle of 17 goals unleashed in four electrifying encounters, with an impressive average of 4.3 goals per game (with Real Madrid scoring seven and Manchester City adding 10).

As anticipation builds for another thrilling showdown under the starry skies of the Spanish capital, soccer fans are gearing up for an exciting spectacle.

Pep's City sets the pace

In their recent two-legged Round of 16 clash against Copenhagen, the reigning Premier League champions showed their strength, winning each game comfortably 3-1 to secure a convincing 6-2 aggregate victory.

This dominant display came after an impeccable performance in the group stage, where City made it six wins in as many games to further cement their European credentials.

However, the upcoming clash against Real Madrid presents a unique challenge. Erling Haaland, a key figure in City's attacking arsenal, has struggled to find the net against the Spanish giants, with seven shots and five shots on target in two previous meetings, failing to score.

Their effectiveness in getting past Madrid's defensive lines may depend on the creative prowess of Rodri, who leads the competition with 137 line-breaking passes this season, surpassing the likes of Toni Kroos.

Meanwhile, Phil Foden's dazzling attacking form adds another dimension to City's attacking threat, as evidenced by his recent hat-trick against Aston Villa.

Kevin De Bruyne's clinical finishing prowess, highlighted by his brace against Crystal Palace, further bolsters City's goalscoring potential, alongside the ever-reliable Erling Haaland.

In terms of Guardiola's team selection, Bernardo Silva and Foden were given a rest during the weekend win over Crystal Palace, while first-choice goalkeeper Ederson returned after a spell on the bench.

John Stones has been battling injury problems, with Kyle Walker, Nathan Ake and Josko Gvardiol unlikely to make an appearance when action begins in the Spanish capital.

The strength of Los Merengues is unquestionable.

Madrid has its own constellation of global superstars, with Vinícius Júnior emerging as a prolific force in the Champions League, contributing more goals than any other player since the start of the 2021-22 campaign, with 27 goal appearances including 14 goals and 13 assists.

During this period, the Brazilian winger has emerged as the leader in completed dribbles (97) and progression on the ball (373), eclipsing all other contenders in the tournament. Vinícius has forged a formidable partnership with a familiar English figure at Madrid.

Former Manchester City target Jude Bellingham has made a notable impact, scoring (four times) or assisting (four times) in each of his six appearances for Ancelotti's side in the UEFA Champions League.

Sébastien Haller remains the only player to achieve this feat in his first seven appearances for a club in the competition, achieved during his tenure at Ajax in the 2021-22 season, amassing 11 goals and two assists.

Dynamic performances from Bellingham and Vinícius have been instrumental in Madrid's flawless record, securing wins in all six group stage matches before narrowly beating RB Leipzig 2-1 on aggregate in the Round of 16.

As for Madrid's team update, the return of Éder Militão strengthens Ancelotti's defensive lineup, although Dani Ceballos remains a doubt, along with long-term absentees Thibaut Courtois and David Alaba.

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