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Manchester City hope Erling Haaland can help banish memory of Bernabeu collapse
Posted by  badge Boss on May 08, 2023 - 05:47PM
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have built up a real head of steam (Picture: Getty)

face perhaps the toughest test of their Treble tilt so far when they visit in their semi-final, first leg.

A trip to the Bernabeu will no doubt spark traumatic recollections of how last season’s European dream turned into a nightmare.

However, with in record-breaking form and City appearing unstoppable in the Premier League, Pep Guardiola must hope his team’s latest challenge is built of sterner stuff.

Revenge in the air

This is a rematch of last year’s semi-final when City left the Bernabeu heartbroken after letting a place in the final slip through their grasp in extraordinary, almost comical fashion.

City led 1-0 on the night and 5-3 on aggregate going into stoppage time when they suddenly capitulated and conceded two goals to Rodrygo. Karim Benzema capitalised on a shellshocked City defence to win and score a decisive penalty early in extra-time.

will hope and that having the home leg come second this time is to their advantage.

Momentum with the visitors

City are unbeaten in 20 matches – 17 of which they have won – and still harbour dreams of winning the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.

With Everton, Chelsea, Brighton and Brentford left to play in the league, plus the FA Cup final with Manchester United, European Cup holders Madrid are probably the toughest obstacle left for City to clear as they look to win the Treble.

Erling Haaland (left), Kevin De Bruyne (centre) and Jack Grealish prepare to face Real Madrid (Picture: AFP/Getty)

Madrid crowned kings on coronation day

Real’s form is harder to assess. With the league title out of reach, they have lost two of their last three LaLiga matches, suggesting Carlo Ancelotti has been prioritising other fixtures.

Those would be Saturday’s Copa del Rey final against Osasuna, which they won 2-1, and the two City encounters over the coming week.

Their weekend triumph, secured thanks to another big-game brace from that man Rodrygo, will have raised confidence levels.

Haaland the missing piece

with 51 goals in all competitions. After years of near misses in the Champions League, City hope the Norwegian is the last piece of the jigsaw as they look to finally land the club game’s biggest prize.

Haaland has revelled in Europe, not least when he in the last 16 and in . Can the hot streak continue?

City boss Pep Guardiola oversees training in Manchester before the trip to Madrid (Picture: AFP/Getty)

Bellingham adds to midfield intrigue

While on-pitch matters will decide who makes the Champions League final, reports from Spain claim Madrid have already stolen a march in the .

The England man has a bright future but, a year after selling Casemiro to Manchester United, the other two-thirds of Madrid’s long-standing midfield appear harder to shift.

Toni Kroos has signed a new one-year deal and the ageless Luka Modric, who shook off injury to feature in the Copa del Rey final, is set to follow suit.

City have injury concerns over their own midfield talisman, with Kevin de Bruyne returning from a two-game absence to play the full 90 minutes against Leeds, suffering from a number of heavy challenges in the process.

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