In Review

Man City braced for huge test against Champions League ‘kings’ Real Madrid

Pep Guardiola’s side travel to the Bernabeu for the round of 16 first leg

Real Madrid vs. Manchester City

  • What: Uefa Champions League last-16 first leg 
  • When: Wednesday 26 February 
  • Where: Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid, Spain 
  • Kick-off time: 8pm (GMT) 
  • TV coverage: live on BT Sport 2

All eyes will be on Manchester City tonight as they travel to Spain for the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie against Real Madrid. 

It’s the first time City have played in Europe since they were handed a two-year ban from the Champions League, a punishment that the English side will appeal

City have never beaten 13-time Champions League winners Real Madrid and head coach Pep Guardiola knows it will be a huge test. 

Urging his side to embrace the challenge, Spaniard Guardiola said: “I know this is a big opportunity in the last 16. We are playing the king of this competition, so we know the challenge in front of us.

“They [Real] are the best and it’s a huge challenge for us to meet them. We are convinced that we want to play against them, win and be the level of this competition.”

With the two-year ban looming, The Times says this season could be Guardiola’s final shot at the “holy grail” - winning European football’s top club competition with City. 

Guardiola, who used to coach Real’s rivals Barcelona, added: “We have to show our personality. I know my players, myself, all the club want to fight until the end for this title. But if you want to do that [win the title] you have to face these teams sooner or later. 

“You have to beat Madrid, you have to beat Barcelona, you have to beat Bayern Munich. You have to beat the big, big teams. 

“If we’re able to do it we’ll be so happy. If not then next season... well, next season I don’t know but when we are able to play we are going to come back.”

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Sterling fit for Bernabeu clash

England forward Raheem Sterling will be available for tonight’s clash after three weeks out with a hamstring injury. Spanish midfielder David Silva could also feature but German winger Leroy Sane is still out with a knee injury. 

Guardiola said: “Raheem is fit, his natural physical condition and regeneration is amazing. He told us he could play at West Ham and Leicester but the doctors said be careful as muscular injuries take three weeks. After 15 days he wanted to play. He is fit, he is ready.”

Hazard could be out for the season

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane fears that Eden Hazard could miss the rest of the season after suffering a fractured ankle in the 1-0 La Liga defeat to Levante at the weekend.

Zidane said: “I don’t know if his season is over, I don’t know but I hope not. I don't know if he will need an operation, it’s not my area. I can see he’s not happy. 

“It’s important he stays positive but of course it’s difficult. It’s a bad moment, it won’t be easy and he will feel like this for a while.”

Champions League results and fixtures

Last-16 first-leg results
  • Atlético Madrid 1 Liverpool 0  
  • Borussia Dortmund 2 Paris Saint Germain 1 
  • Atalanta 4 Valencia 1  
  • Tottenham Hotspur 0 RB Leipzig 1 
  • Chelsea 0 Bayern Munich 3  
  • Napoli 1 Barcelona 1
Tonight’s last-16 first-leg fixtures
  • Lyon vs. Juventus (8pm, live on BT Sport 3) 
  • Real Madrid vs. Manchester City (8pm, live on BT Sport 2)

Today’s back pages

Bayern Munich and Gnabry cause a ‘power Serge’ at Stamford Bridge

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