Manchester City vs Real Madrid will meet again tonight
Manchester City VS Real Madrid meet again in the latter stages of the Champions League at the Etihad, but who has the historical upper hand?
Manchester City’s emergence as a genuine European force since the takeover of the club by the Abu Dhabi-backed City Football Group in 2008 has been steady rather than spectacular. City’s entry into the 2008-09 UEFA Cup was via the Fair Play Award and they wouldn’t appear in Europe’s second-tier competition again until 2010-11, after a fifth-placed Premier League finish under Roberto Mancini. The following season, with the Italian still at the helm, City made their Champions League debut and have since then, led by Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and, since 2016, Pep Guardiola, been an ever-present in the continent’s Premier club competition.
The club’s first significant run in the Champions League came in the 2015-16 season under Pellegrini, who went into the semi-finals against Real Madrid as a man with a point to prove to his former employers, who unceremoniously parted company with the Chilean tactician after a single, trophyless season that will always be remembered for the Alcorconazo Copa del Rey tie. However, City fell short against the eventual champions, who under Zinedine Zidane would go on to win the tournament that season and the following two to complete a treble of European Cup / Champions League successes, something that had not been achieved since the 1970s by Ajax and Bayern Munich.
City and Madrid set for seventh Champions League meeting
Real Madrid and Manchester City had met previously in the competition, in the 2012-13 group stage. Under Mancini, the relatively green City pulled possibly the worst group in recent Champions League history, going up against Ajax, Madrid and eventual finalists Borussia Dortmund, who still then had Robert Lewandowski leading the line – the Poland striker famously put four past Madrid in the first leg of the semi-finals. City finished bottom of Group D with three points, missing out on transfer to the Europa League to Ajax, who managed four. Still, City were at least unbeaten at home, securing a 1-1 draw against Madrid, a 1-1 against Dortmund and a 2-2 when Ajax came to town. Away, they were beaten by all three, conceding seven and scoring three.
After 2015-16, the next time the sides met was in 2019-20, with Guardiola at the helm. City won both legs of the last 16 tie 2-1 to not only beat Madrid for the first time in club history, but doing so twice consecutively to send the 13-times champions packing while exacting a measure of revenge on Zidane for the semi-final defeat four years earlier. City would fall short of their ultimate goal though, losing 3-1 to Lyon in a single-leg game in the Lisbon mini-tournament that was staged to conclude the competition during the covid-19 pandemic.