In Review

Ronaldo returns but Aguero is key as Man City face Real Madrid

Can the Blues triumph at the Bernabeu and progress to the Champions League final?

Manchester City will be huge underdogs as they take on Real Madrid and fit-again Cristiano Ronaldo at the Bernabeu in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final.

The Blues were held to a goalless draw at the Etihad last week and will need to at least score and probably beat Real Madrid if they are to progress.

However, Los Merengues have lost only twice at home in La Liga this season and have not conceded a goal in their last five games at home.

Add to that the return of superstar Ronaldo, and JJ Bull of the Daily Telegraph says Manuel Pellegrini's side face "Mission Improbable".

However, all is not lost for City, who could welcome a superstar of their own back to the side in the form of Yaya Toure, while defensive lynchpin Vincent Kompany is finally enjoying a run of games without injury.

On top of that is the result in Manchester, which means that a scoring draw will see them into the final and a goalless draw will lead to penalties.

But even though the emphasis appears to be on not conceding, Bull believes the Blues should go on the offensive as playing defensively against the likes of Ronaldo rarely works. Instead of sitting back, they should try to exploit Real's weakness.

The Spanish team can field "one of the most lethal attacking trios in the game's history but their lack of positional acumen makes their own team far more vulnerable to attack", he says. Kevin de Bruyne's direct running could be key to exposing Real.

On a more general level, City "do finally feel at ease in these kind of surroundings", says Daniel Taylor of The Guardian. But a lot will rest on the shoulders of Sergio Aguero, who has failed to register a shot on target in his last four Champions League matches.

The Argentine striker must "remind everyone why Pellegrini always says there is no one bar Ronaldo and Lionel Messi who deserves to be thought of as superior footballers".

Toure and Jesus Navas are also due big games, he adds.

City have the personnel at both ends of the field, believes a bullish Jermaine Jenas, writing for the BBC. "They are capable of scoring as well as shutting Real out and I think they have the players to go there and win the game," he says.

Whatever happens, Real boss Zinedine Zidane is not expecting an easy ride and warned that his side would "suffer" during the match. He also pointed out that the return of Ronaldo is offset by the absence of Karim Benzema and Casemiro, while admitting that not reaching the final, where the winner will face Atletico Madrid, would be a "failure".

Recommended

English football fan disorder ‘getting worse’
Aston Villa’s Matty Cash and Lucas Digne were struck by a bottle at Goodison Park
In Focus

English football fan disorder ‘getting worse’

Sent packing: Djokovic and Benitez
Novak Djokovic (centre) arrives in Dubai after leaving Australia
Sports Shorts

Sent packing: Djokovic and Benitez

Africa Cup of Nations: is there a more disrespected tournament?
The Africa Cup of Nations opening ceremony in Yaoundé, Cameroon
In Depth

Africa Cup of Nations: is there a more disrespected tournament?

Messi vs. Ronaldo: all-time goals, stats and awards
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo
Profile

Messi vs. Ronaldo: all-time goals, stats and awards

Popular articles

Why is New Zealand shutting its borders again?
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern adjusts her face mask following a press conference
In Depth

Why is New Zealand shutting its borders again?

Djokovic vs. Nadal vs. Federer: career records and grand slams
Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have all won 20 grand slam singles titles
Profile

Djokovic vs. Nadal vs. Federer: career records and grand slams

Food trends: what we’ll be eating in 2022
Yuzu
On the menu

Food trends: what we’ll be eating in 2022

The Week Footer Banner