To win a lottery, you have to buy a ticket. We know that. And by coming away from the first leg of their Champions League semi-final with Real Madrid at 0-0, Manchester City have bought themselves a ticket to football’s richest lottery prize going. There’s just one catch: taking a positive result from one of the world’s most formidable sides on home soil.
Because that’s the real rub here: forget that Yaya Toure’s legs have gone, forget that Vincent Kompany is an injury waiting to happen, and forget that Aleksander Kolarov defends like his bootlaces have been tied together. Real Madrid have won 18 of their last 20 Champions League matches at the Bernabeu. Now that’s what we call ‘form’.
But here’s the thing: Manchester City don’t even need to win in Spain to progress to the final of European football’s premier competition. A score draw of any kind would take them through; and that’s what makes this fixture so appetising for punters.
It will perhaps come as no surprise to learn that Real Madrid are as short as 8/15 to reign in Spain, with Manchester City available at 6/1 to win this match. Remember, a draw would see Manuel Pellegrini’s men through, and that can be backed from 18/5.
With this being a knockout match there is the ‘to qualify’ market to consider too. This is interesting: Real can be backed from 4/9, with City way back at 19/10. There’s no doubting which way the bookmakers think this match is going to go….
The above is not helped by Man City’s poor form on the road, either. They are W8 D1 L9 in their last 18 away matches in the competition, and W7 D6 L5 on their travels in the Premier League. That’s not the kind of run you’d expect from a David trying to slay a Goliath in their own backyard. Factor in that when City play the best teams around in Europe, they tend to lose: Barcelona have defeated them twice, as have Bayern, and further losses have come against Juventus and Real Madrid themselves, amongst others.
You only have to look at Real’s quarter-final clash with Wolfsburg for further evidence. The Germans took a 2-0 lead to the Bernabeu, and must have secretly fancied their chances of getting the job done. They needn’t. A hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo later and their dreams were shattered.
If Real score first on Wednesday evening then City will need to press forward looking for a goal in reply; that could prove to be a catastrophic situation given the Spanish side’s pace and craft on the counter attack. For these reasons, backing Real with a -1 handicap at 7/5 is a worthy investment.
This season’s top goalscorer in the Champions League, with 47 goals to his name this term in total, who enjoyed a number of successful years with City’s bitter rivals Manchester United. You don’t need to be a headline writer to work out what’s going to happen here!
Cristiano Ronaldo is 15/4 to score two or more goals in this game, and you really wouldn’t put it past him, would you?