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It’s been a strange season full stop in football but it’s been particularly strange for Manchester City.
Sent off as favourites to win the Premier League for the third year in a row, City’s title challenge was all but over by January and they ended up losing nine games. Then there’s the club’s drawn-out legal battle with UEFA which may not be over as fresh leaks cast doubt on the case City presented to the Court of Arbitration for Sport who overturned their two-year Champions League ban.
Amongst all the turmoil, Man City were able to win the Carabao Cup and are joint-favourites with Bayern Munich to win the Champions League which will be settled with a unique tournament in Lisbon.
Before Pep Guardiola and his players can start thinking about a potential quarter-final against Juventus they have the small matter of finishing the job they started against Real Madrid back in March.
Man City are 2-1 up from the first-leg at the Bernabeu but are not the nailed-on favourites that the bookies’ odds suggest. This is a fascinating match which could well see plenty of chances for both teams.
Man City 8/11 (Betfred)
Real Madrid 31/10 (bet365)
Draw 7/2 (William Hill)
(Please note odds are correct at time of article publishing)
Man City are worthy favourites for this match but the bookies do look to have underplayed Real Madrid’s chances. Yes, Los Blancos were helped no end in winning the Liga title by Barcelona’s horrible post-restart form in Spain but there is quality everywhere you look in their squad.
Perhaps even more important than sheer quality, Real Madrid also have tremendous Champions League experience. In Zinedine Zidane they are guided by a manager who led the club to an unprecedented hat-trick of Champions League wins between 2016 and 2018 and a number of the players from that time remain at the club.
Real Madrid are also in the unusual position of the underdogs for their trip to Manchester which could give them the freedom to come out flying and try to heap the pressure on the home side. Man City’s two away goals has left them in a very strong position but this is a match that could go either way.
So, rather than backing either side to win, consider backing them both to score at a best price of 8/15 with bet365.
Man City 2-1 @ 7/1 (Paddy Power)
Draw 1-1 @ 17/2 (Sportingbet)
Man City 2-0 @ 9/1 (bet365)
Man City 1-0 @ 10/1 (Sportingbet)
Draw 2-2 @ 11/1 (Ladbrokes)
Man City 3-1 @ 11/1 (Betfred)
Man City 3-0 @ 12/1 (Coral)
It’s no surprise to us that the favourite selection in the Correct Score betting is Man City 2-1. The home side are right to be favourites but their less than convincing defence suggests that Real Madrid will be good for at least one goal.
The club have already moved to strengthen their defence for next season with the acquisition of Nathan Ake from Bournemouth but for now they do look vulnerable at the back. When you consider that Real Madrid have forward players as good as Karim Benzema, Marcos Asensio and Eden Hazard it really is tough to see City keeping a clean sheet.
Of course, the danger for Real Madrid is that they open themselves up too much as they go in search of the goals they need to qualify and are vulnerable on the counterattack. In a match that could well be end-to-end at times, the 2-2 correct score is tempting at 11/1 with Ladbrokes.
Gabriel Jesus 19/4 (Unibet)
Raheem Sterling 5/1 (Paddy Power)
Karim Benzema 13/2 (888Sport)
Riyad Mahrez 7/1 (Paddy Power)
Kevin De Bruyne 7/1 (Coral)
Phil Foden 17/2 (888Sport)
Luka Jovic 10/1 (bet365)
Rodrygo 12/1 (William Hill)
Pep Guardiola’s record in the Champions League since leaving Barcelona has not been what he’d have hoped it to be. He’s learned something every time his teams have failed since last getting his hands on the famous trophy in 2011 and understands the importance of his big players standing up on Friday and throughout the rest of the tournament.
You could make a good argument for Kevin De Bruyne being Man City’s most important player. He is the man who really makes the side tick as he both physically and psychologically drives his team forward. De Bruyne was excellent in the Bernabeu where he scored the winning goal from the penalty spot and he’s a good option to score the game’s first goal on Friday at 7/1 with Coral.
Both Teams to Score @ 8/15 (bet365)
2-2 Correct Score @ 11/1 (Ladbrokes)
Kevin De Bruyne to Score First @ 7/1 (Coral)