City Must Tread Carefully to Avoid Real Trap

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Manchester City and Lyon hold the advantage going into their Champions League last-16 second legs against Real Madrid and Juventus.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane

Manchester City head into Friday’s Champions League last-16 second leg against Real Madrid in a commanding position after a 2-1 victory at the Bernabeu back in February.

However, a lot has changed since that first meeting and Real will pose a very different challenge to Pep Guardiola’s men when they go head-to-head at the Etihad Stadium.

European Doubts Linger Over Guardiola

City were completely dominant in the first leg and had they converted more of the 16 attempts they had on goal, this tie could already be effectively over. As it is, the 13-time European winners arrive in Manchester with hope of overturning the deficit and they are the form side heading into the game.

At the time of the loss to City, Real boss Zinedine Zidane was under a bit of pressure but he has silenced his doubters by storming to the La Liga title, stringing together 10 successive wins to finish well clear of Barcelona.

In contrast, City have been beaten three times since lockdown, missing out on completing a domestic double as they lost 2-0 to Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-finals, while they finished 18 points behind champions Liverpool in the league.

They did thrash the Reds 4-0 back in July, one of several big wins they chalked up after the restart, scoring 36 goals in 12 games, but still the doubts persist, especially when it comes to the Champions League.

Guardiola is chasing his first European Cup since 2011 and hasn’t been able to guide City beyond the quarter-final stage. Throw into the mix the fact they have won only four of 10 Champions League knockout matches at home and a Real Madrid win at 17/4 offers some value.

However, with the Spaniards missing inspiration skipper Sergio Ramos for this game, going for goals might be a safer option. City have scored 24 times in their last six matches at home, while Real have netted in 23 of their last 25 matches, and both teams to score is on offer at 4/7.

Lyon Can Spring Major Surprise

Friday’s other Champions League last-16 clash sees Juventus trying to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Lyon in Turin. Despite wrapping up a ninth successive Serie A title, the pressure is on Juve coach Maurizio Sarri as the Old Lady chase some elusive European glory.

Juventus playmaker Paulo Dybala
Paulo Dybala of Juventus FC in action during The Serie A football Match Juventus FC vs Sampdoria. Juventus FC won 2-0 over Sampdoria, at Allianz Stadium in Turin.

Sarri’s men have struggled to convince in recent weeks, winning only two of their last eight matches in Serie A, and could be without one of their key attacking pieces in Paulo Dybala. Of course they still have the ageless Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored 35 times in all competitions this season but Lyon might fancy their chances of keeping the Champions League’s record goalscorer quiet.

Les Gones shut out Paris Saint-Germain in the Coupe de la Ligue final last week – their first competitive match since March – before ultimately losing on penalties but in that game demonstrated the kind of defensive resolve they’ll need in Turin. Lyon have lost just four of their last 19 matches in Europe and pose a threat with Memphis Depay back fit, scoring in eight of their last nine away matches in the Champions League.

With Juventus conceding 17 goals in their last eight matches, Lyon should have chances to build on their lead and it is worth taking the 27/20 on Lyon/draw double chance.

*All odds correct at time of writing

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