Real Madrid welcome Manchester City to the Santiago Bernabeu in tonight’s UEFA Champions League round of 16. Eden Hazard will not be available for the game after the Belgian suffered a recurrence of his ankle injury on Saturday.
Hazard has been sidelined since November last year but he returned to action for his second game this season. The Belgian, however, suffered another setback when he limped off in the second half of Madrid’s 1-0 loss at Levante.
The former Chelsea winger is now ruled out for up to two months and this means that Gareth Bale could start in tonight’s game. The Welsh international was left out of the team for last Saturday’s loss after suffering from gastroenteritis in midweek.
Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane could also call on Brazilian youngster Rodrygo after being frozen out for a couple of weeks. The 19-year-old is suspended for Sunday’s El Clasico clash at home to Barcelona after he was sent off playing for Madrid’s youth side Castilla at the weekend.
Also, Zidane could decide to play five midfielders, with Isco playing behind Karim Benzema. The manager would also call on Ferland Mendy to replace Marcelo at left-back after he was left out on Saturday. Marco Asensio is still on the way back from a long-term injury sustained in pre-season.
Man City manager Pep Guardiola will have the chance to play Raheem Sterling after the winger came back from a hamstring injury which ruled him out for three weeks. Guardiola admits the English winger is desperate to play tonight.
Guardiola said: “Yes he’s fit. His natural condition, his regeneration is amazing.
“He said to us he could have played against West Ham or Leicester, but the doctor said to be careful.
“A muscular injury is three weeks or one month, but he wanted to play and that’s a good sign. He’s fit he’s ready.”
Aymeric Laporte is in contention to start tonight after coming off early in City’s 1-0 win over Leicester – only his third start since recovering from a serious knee injury. While Leroy Sane continues his rehabilitation following a long-term injury.
Speaking ahead of the game, Madrid coach Zidane: “Just because we’ve had a couple of poor results, it doesn’t mean we’re doing that badly. This game is Madrid v City, it’s not Guardiola v Zidane; it’s a football match – that’s what people want to see. We’re happy because these are the games we want to play in, and we’re ready to do a great job. Loads of teams like to have the ball [like City do]. They are a team full of strengths and we have to counteract what they do well. We won’t change, we’re going to focus on what we’re interested in doing.”
Also speaking, City manager: “We have to be strong, have quality and need to have luck. You need incredible concentration in our game and game plan, plus try to be a little lucky.”
- Manchester City has never won against Real Madrid – they have faced each other four times, each occasion in the Champions League, with City losing their two away games at Santiago Bernabeu and drawing the other two at the Etihad.
- Real Madrid has prevailed in their last four Champions League knockout ties against English opposition: 5-0 on aggregate v Tottenham (2010/11 quarter-finals), 3-2 v Manchester Utd (2012/13 round of 16), 1-0 v Manchester City (2015/16 semi-finals), 3-1 v Liverpool (2017/18 final).
- Real Madrid has reached the knockout stages of the Champions League for the 23rd consecutive season, the longest run in the history of the tournament and a streak that began in 1997/98.
- Real Madrid has scored in each of their last 22 home games in the knockout stages of the Champions League; the last team to stop them from scoring was Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in the 2010/11 semi-finals (0-2).
- Manchester City is in the knockout stages of the Champions League for the seventh straight season, reaching at least the quarter-finals in three of the last four campaigns.
- Manchester City has been knocked out in each of their three previous Champions league two-legged ties against Spanish clubs: 1-4 on aggregate v Barcelona (2013/14 round of 16), 1-3 v Barcelona (2014/15 round of 16), 0-1 v Real Madrid (2015/16 semis).
- Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling has scored 10 goals in his last 13 Champions League appearances, that’s one more goal than in his previous 34 matches in the competition (9). Only Lionel Messi (6) and Cristiano Ronaldo (5) scored more times than Sterling in last season’s knockout stages (4).
- Zinedine Zidane has won all 12 Champions League ties he’s been involved in as Real Madrid manager (9 two-legged ties and 3 finals). He currently holds three Champions League trophies as manager, a joint-record alongside Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti.
- Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is facing Real Madrid in a Champions League knockout tie for the third time, with a third different club – he won 3-1 on aggregate with Barcelona in the 2010/11 semi-finals and he lost 5-0 on aggregate with Bayern Munich in the 2013/14 semi-finals.