Manchester City and Real Madrid are tied, 1-1, entering the second-leg of their Champions League semifinal.
So quite simply, whoever wins Wednesday’s match — no matter how long it takes — at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England, will advance to the Final in Istanbul.
And while the literal stakes are the exact same — winner advances, loser is eliminated — there is no question about which team has more pressure on them this week.
Manchester City has been the best team in the world for a decade now.
City is on its way to another Premier League title — its third in a row and fifth in the last six seasons — and has won five other major trophies in that span, but one piece of hardware still eludes Pep Guardiola and the Cityzens: The Champions League.
Real Madrid vs. Manchester City pick
Real Madrid, meanwhile, are experts at winning this competition.
Not only did Madrid win the Champions League against the odds last season by upsetting Liverpool in the final, but Los Blancos have won it more than any other club in Europe, including five times since 2013-14.
Madrid has made it to the semifinals 11 of the last 13 iterations of this competition.
Despite that success and the heaps of pressure on the Cityzens, the betting market seems quite confident in the Premier League title-holders in this matchup.
City is currently -175 on the 90-minute moneyline and -355 to advance.
While those numbers may seem steep (and I think they are), it’s hard to argue against the hype for City right now.
Not only has Man City started to run away with the Premier League title, but they’re also riding a 22-match unbeaten streak (18 wins, 4 draws) across all competitions and have not allowed more than one goal in a game since a 4-2 win over Tottenham on Jan. 19 — a span of 25 contests.
Madrid, on the other hand, have only won three of their last six matches overall, but they’re in a very different situation than City.
While the Sky Blues have been battling Arsenal for Premier League supremacy, Real Madrid has very little at stake in La Liga since Barcelona ran away with the title.
Real Madrid’s pedestrian form is nothing to really worry about.
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The Champions League has been their focus and Ancelotti is a master at getting his teams prepared for knockout football matches.
Madrid showed they were comfortable playing against City in the first leg and even though they’re on the road in the second-leg, they should be set up pretty well to hang around against Guardiola’s side.
The Cityzens love having the ball and passing their way into scoring positions, but that style suits Real Madrid, who are a dynamite counterattacking side and have clinical finishers like Vinicius Jr. and Karim Benzema.
This matchup won’t intimidate Madrid and the number is absolutely worth a sprinkle.
Real Madrid vs. Manchester City prediction
Real Madrid +420 (BetRivers)
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