In Review

Man City must come of age against Ronaldo and Real Madrid

Blues used to look out of place in Europe but now UK's 'ultimate arrivistes' will rub shoulders with Spain's 'ultimate aristocrats'

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany

Manchester City host Real Madrid in the semi-final of the Champions League tonight in what could be billed as the biggest match in their history.

But they have no need to feel like "guests" in the last four of the competition, as Paris Saint-Germain manager Laurent Blanc described the Blues after their quarter-final win over the French side.

In previous seasons, City have looked "gauche and awkward" in the Champions League, "the debutante wallflowers at a glitzy celebrity party", says the Manchester Evening News. But "this season's competition has seen them mature as a European team".

Against PSG, they "possessed the right measures of defensive solidity, attacking devilment and tactical nous to see them through with a little to spare" and that will stand them in good stead against Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and the rest of the Madrid side.

Beating Los Merengues would not be an out-of-place achievement in a season that has seen Leicester City rise to the top of the Premier League. 

"The territory is uncharted, but the feeling is familiar. Manchester City have spent the past eight years smashing glass ceilings," says Rory Smith in The Times. They were the first side to break the stranglehold of the "big four" in England and "buried a reputation for institutionalised heartache and failure", he writes. Now "the ultimate arrivistes will share a stage with the ultimate aristocrats".

This is the first time City have been in the last four of the competition. For Madrid, it is their 27th appearance at this stage.

The outcome of the tie is likely to rest on the first leg, which "promises to be a high-scoring affair, with two teams who love to attack but have brittle backlines", according to The Independent.

Madrid went two down against Wolfsburg in the last eight and City will hope to do the same at the Etihad. "Despite their run of impressive results and comebacks, Real Madrid have been unconvincing on the road for some time; they have only kept one clean sheet in an away match since November and that was against a Roma team that wasted a number of clear chances," notes The Guardian.

However, Real have yet to concede in Europa at the Bernabeu so a first leg lead is imperative for City, who will be without Yaya Toure, who is out with a thigh injury.

But the presence of skipper Vincent Kompany will boost City's morale and solidity at the back and he issued a rallying cry for his team-mates and fans ahead of the game. "For every single player in the team, if you're not hungry [for this game], then you'll never be hungry in football," he said.

"I have never seen a Manchester City team not turn up when the fans are up for it. It's an appeal to them that they have to be as loud as they've ever been. Otherwise, what's the point in buying your ticket to come in?"

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