In perhaps the most eagerly anticipated club game of the season, Manchester City and Real Madrid go head-to-head for a place in the Champions League final on Wednesday.
Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has already promised “a thrilling game” at the Etihad Stadium after the teams drew 1-1 last week, with the winner of the tie going on to face Inter Milan in the final on June 10.
While Man City is the form team in Europe at the moment, Madrid has serious pedigree when it comes to the Champions League with five titles in the past nine years – and a record 14 overall.
“Courage is a fundamental element in this type of match,” Ancelotti told reporters on Tuesday.
“On an individual level, the two teams are evenly matched, but courage makes the difference in a game like this, where you have to know how to hold on and fight.”
Man City may have the home advantage but Los Blancos will feel confident following their performance at the Santiago Bernabéu last week, successfully nullifying the threat of star forward Erling Haaland.
Erling Haaland (center) trains ahead of the Champions League semifinal against Real Madrid.
Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images
The Norwegian, who has 52 goals in 48 games this season, had a quiet night against Antonio Rüdiger in the Madrid defense and Ancelotti will be hoping for more of the same on Wednesday night.
“In the first leg, we were outstanding in the way we played the ball out from the back and it was difficult for them to win it back,” he said.
“That will also be an important factor tomorrow. Having more of the ball means less risk defensively.”
Man City, meanwhile, is potentially four games away from winning the treble – the Champions League, the Premier League and the FA Cup – after Manchester United became the first and only English team to achieve such a feat in 1999.
The Champions League is the one trophy that has so far eluded Pep Guardiola’s side, which fell short against Madrid in the semifinals last year and against Chelsea in the final the year before that.
Real Madrid’s squad trains at the Etihad Stadium.
Pedro Castillo/Real Madrid/Getty Images
“Our legacy is exceptional already,” Guardiola told reporters on Tuesday. “We have been here many times.
“We are not stupid to [not] know how important tomorrow’s game is, maybe one of the most important games since we have been here, we cannot deny that. For the competition, for the rivals, for many things.”
Vinícius Jr and Kevin De Bruyne both scored stunning long-range goals in the first leg and you would imagine it will take another moment of brilliance from either side to decide the tie.
Having not lost a home game since November, Man City enters the contest as the slight favorite, though a glance at the recent history of the Champions League shows that Madrid should never be written off when it comes to European knockout games.
How to watch
The match kicks off at 3 p.m. ET and is available to watch on CBS in the United States. A full list of broadcasters is available on the UEFA website.