6 talking points for Manchester City's Champions League clash with Real Madrid


Manchester City are preparing to host Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.

Here's a look at some talking points ahead of the eagerly-anticipated tie.

1. It's a historic occasion for City.

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Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini talks to players during a training session (Martin Rickett/PA)

This is a huge match for City and their biggest European occasion since reaching the 1970 Cup Winners' Cup final.

The club have ambitions to be competing on this stage regularly but for now it is an important milestone in their accelerated progress towards the top of the game.

2. It should be another fiery atmosphere.

Manchester City supporters wave Manchester City flags during game against Paris Saint-Germain (Nigel French/PA)

City's fans have been slow to embrace the Champions League and their disgruntlement with organisers UEFA is well known, with their concerted booing of the competition's anthem having become a regular occurrence.

But enthusiasm has grown throughout this year's run and in the quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain, the booing actually seemed to energise the crowd rather than set the wrong tone on what was a famous and raucous night.

3. Pellegrini might well have a score to settle.

Manuel Pellegrini
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini speaks during a press conference at the Etihad Campus on Monday (Martin Rickett/PA)

The tie brings City boss Manuel Pellegrini up against the club that sacked him, perhaps harshly, in 2010 after just one season in charge.

The Chilean secured a then club record 96 points in La Liga but still finished second to Barcelona. He has since said he did not have a good relationship with the board.

He's played down the personal aspect of this meeting but overcoming his former employers would be highly satisfactory for the 62-year-old.

4. Who will win the battle up front?

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Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema during a training session at the Etihad Stadium (Martin Rickett/PA)

Neither side have a great reputation for defending, meaning the contest could be an open one.

Real will look to their formidable forward line of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale - although the former two must overcome fitness issues - to inflict maximum damage.

City will rely on their striker Sergio Aguero, backed up by in-form Kevin De Bruyne and fit-again David Silva, to respond in kind.

5. Kompany looks set to make a return.

Vincent Kompany
Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany (David Davies/PA)

City have started to find form in recent weeks and their central defensive partnership of Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi has won over a few doubters after some shaky performances earlier in the season.

Nevertheless, it would be a huge surprise if the highly influential Vincent Kompany, now recovered from his latest calf injury, did not return. City always look much more composed with their experienced leader at the heart of their back line.

6. Stopping Ronaldo could be critical to City's hopes.

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo tries to score past Villarreal's goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo during a Spanish La Liga match (Francisco Seco/AP)

The three-time world player of the year has scored 31 goals in 34 La Liga games this season and 16 in 10 in the Champions League.

The Portuguese also has a fine record against City, having beaten them in all five games in which he has scored for either Real or Manchester United. However, he has also been sent off twice against them.