Time For City To Get Real In Europe

Manchester City must take the three points against Real Madrid to stay alive in the UEFA Champions League.
Last year Manchester City made its debut in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League, so an exit at that stage of the competition could be forgiven. To be ousted at the same stage this season would be almost unforgivable for the champion of England, especially considering the substantial investment made by Sheikh Mansour over the past four years.

The team’s destiny is out of its hands; all City can do is win its final two games of the group stage against Real Madrid on Thursday morning (AEDT), and then German powerhouse Borussia Dortmund on the final matchday. It’s an unlikely scenario, given the fact Roberto Mancini’s team has amassed just two points from its opening four encounters, but one which is certainly not beyond a team with the level of star power the Sky Blues have. Only two teams have recovered from a similar position in this competition to qualify for the final 16: FC Lokomotiv Moskva in 2002/03 and FC Porto two years later.

City really should have come away with a point, if not all three, from their previous clash with Real Madrid. They led 2-1 with five minutes remaining at the Bernabeu, before late goals to Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo helped the home side to a thrilling 3-2 victory. Jose Mourinho’s outfit has had mixed success on the road, thumping Ajax 4-1 before going down to Dortmund 2-1 .

City has never lost to a Spanish team at home in European football, but it’s safe to say none would compare to the current Real line-up. Mourinho has a good record against English clubs across his career with Porto, Inter Milan and this Madrid side, although Mancini’s Manchester City is very different to the team he faced during his tenure at Chelsea.

The Sky Blues have been up and down in the Premier League of late, winning just two and drawing three of their last five games, with those victories coming over lowly Southampton and QPR. It’s in stark contrast to their Spanish opponents who, since the El Clasico draw with Barcelona, have won five straight. In the process they’ve scored 18 goals and conceded just twice. Not surprisingly, all four of Real Madrid’s Champions League games have finished with more than 2.5 goals , while only one City game has ended with a total of under 2.5 . 

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