Pep Guardiola gets another chance against his former Champions League foe as Man City host Real Madrid in the semi-finals of this year’s European club competition.
The Spaniard has possessed his former La Liga rivals throughout history, and heading into this semi-final, Man City come in as heavy favorites and Guardiola has his eye on the top prize.
Guardiola has faced Real Madrid three times in the Champions League with three different clubs, all in the knockout stage, and emerged victorious in two of them, with defeats in both legs in 2014 when he was at the head of Bayern, the only real flaws. Otherwise, Guardiola have beaten Madrid in four of the other six matches, with draws in the other two. He knocked out Madrid from the Champions League semi-finals in 2011 with Barcelona en route to winning the title, and he also knocked out Los Blancos in the 2020 round of 16 with Man City.
In fact, those two defeats with Bayern represent half of Guardiola’s defeats against Real Madrid in his 19 appearances against the club, otherwise losing only a pair of La Liga games, each by just one goal. .
If Man City have any hopes of their first-ever Champions League crown, Guardiola must channel his past successes against the La Liga giants.
MORE: Champions League semi-final times, TV, results, highlights
Man City vs Real Madrid Betting Odds
Odds via DraftKings (USA), Sports interactions (Canada) and SkyBet (UK)
Man City are understandably favorites at home against a Spanish side with their flaws, but the odds-takers have this game skewed heavily in favor of the Premier League club on the silver line and have spread.
The bookmakers are also expecting goals from two of Europe’s most prolific attackers.
|Man City victory||-190||-212||-200|
|Real Madrid victory||+500||+432||+525|
|-135 / +115||-152 / +109||-150 / +110|
|-135 / +105||-137 / -114||-138 / +100|
|Manchester City -1.5||+155||+138||—|
|Real Madrid +1.5||-175||-185||—|
Choose odds via DraftKings
Man City vs Real Madrid Prediction
While Man City should of course be favorites against a Real Madrid side that need a pair of miracle comebacks to even reach this stage, the odds are skewed so heavily in favor of the Premier League club that it’s difficult not to look away.
Real Madrid have plenty of flaws, with the club uneven against sides that sit deep and defend, and also vulnerable on the counter-attack. Still, Karim Benzema is one of the fittest players in the world and Madrid have a healthy squad with a world-class coach.
Although I think Man City will win a close game at the Etihad in the first leg to set up an intriguing second leg in Spain, I think the skewed odds in favor of Real Madrid give enough value to tip the scales in this direction. We all know what happens when Pep Guardiola overestimates his line-up in a big Champions League game…
Lean moneyline: Real Madrid (+500 on DraftKings)
Against lean spread: Real Madrid +1.5 (-175 on DraftKings)
Score prediction: Manchester City 2-1 Real Madrid
MORE: Which teams are in the 2022-23 Champions League?
Best bets between Man City and Real Madrid and expert analysis
Best bet between Man City and Real Madrid
With the odds so far skewed in favor of Man City, bettors must look elsewhere to find the best bets with attractive value.
It’s tough because so far in the Champions League Man City have mostly faced clubs (Atletico Madrid, Sporting CP, Club Brugge, RB Leipzig) who sit deep and try to counter. This is often what the club also faces in the Premier League. Atleti, who sat as deep as they could against Man City, held City to just one goal from two legs but forgot they needed to score as well.
That’s not really what Real Madrid is, but it’s also… sort of? We’ve seen two versions of Madrid this season, one for the league and one for the Champions League. In La Liga, Madrid see over 60% possession per game, but in Europe possession comes down to just 53% possession, and that drops even further against top-flight competition – Madrid held 43% possession across the four rounds against Chelsea and PSG.
Against Man City, Real Madrid could employ similar tactics, with a weaker defense than Atletico Madrid but a much more vicious counter. Believe it or not, the best line-up of the group of teams Man City have faced is RB Leipzig. While the German side were beaten 6-3 in their first group stage encounter, Leipzig managed a 2-1 win in the second leg at home. How did they do it?
Empty and hunt. Goalkeeper Peter Gulasci’s 23 long balls were over 50% completed. The first goal came straight from a goal kick, and the second from a hideous gift from John Stones. Madrid holidays on opposition errors, and the team has a staggering 69% long-ball success rate. It’s a good game for the Spanish team, and while backing them just to win might be a bit risky, a draw is more than possible.
To take: Double chance – Tie or Real Madrid to win, and over 2.5 goals (+390 on DraftKings)
Man City vs Real Madrid prop: Both teams to score
These two teams score a lot of goals, and therefore play very open games.
Real Madrid have seen both teams score in five of their last six matches in all competitions. Man City have been a little stronger defensively, but all of their recent clean sheets have come against the likes of Atletico Madrid, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Peterborough and Everton. City are used to conceding in games against teams with more threatening attacks.
Man City have faced an attacking side four times this Champions League campaign – PSG twice and RB Leipzig twice, both in the group stage – and conceded in all four games.
Prop kicker: Both teams to score (-130 on Draftkings)
Flyer Man City vs Real Madrid: Kevin de Bruyne to help
If supporting Madrid and the most isn’t enough for an adrenaline rush, it’s time to jump on the back of a player, and that player is Kevin de Bruyne.
In the 2020 Champions League encounters between these two clubs, de Bruyne was sensational in both legs, picking up a goal and an assist in the decisive first leg. Interestingly, he had nearly identical games in both legs statistically, but they came from opposite sides of the pitch. The Belgian can really do it all.
He was the fifth most creative player in the Premier League this season with 7.41 expected assists (xA), but surprisingly, he only returned four league assists from those chances. He should see those numbers move closer to average as the season draws to a close.
Accessory Flyer: Kevin de Bruyne to assist (+138 on SkyBet)