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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

PUNDIT: The FIVE Things To Watch For – Man City vs Real Madrid

By Andy Penders

Can City’s captain roll back the years?

Vincent Kompany’s performance in the pre match press conference was confident and assured, almost peerless. Now they just need the same thing on the pitch.

Kompany has been a wonderful servant but injuries have shorn him of his best form for some time now.

Real Madrid are not the team you want to face when you are trying to ease yourself back in to central defence but that is who the Belgian will be facing.

Otamendi and Mangala performed very well against PSG but there is no doubt that a fit Kompany gives another dimension to the City defence.

If City are to get the positive result they crave, his presence could be crucial.

Gareth Bale finally returns to British shores

It remains to be seen whether Ronaldo and Benzema will be fit for the tie – after all it is a long-long time since the BBC had anything to do with a Champions League tie in the UK – but Gareth Bale is fit and in form.

He is also a man for the big occasion as he has shown in the Copa Del Rey and Champions League final as well as countless performances for Wales and Spurs.

Bale’s mental strength sometimes goes unnoticed given his precocious physical gifts but there is no doubting his desire to succeed in the harshest of environments at Real.

City’s defence is seen as their Achilles heel and the flying Welshman could be the man to exploit it if they have another off night. City’s backline could have their hands full.

Pellegrini to prove a point on the touchline?

The Chilean was dealt with harshly by Real – but then who isn’t? – And it’s not been the most dignified of exits at the Etihad either.

How he would love to prove a point to both club hierarchies by steering City to a Champions League final at Real’s expense (turning over Pep’s Bayern in the final just to put the icing on a very big cake too).

Zidane has done ok so far at Real this season but he certainly trails Pellegrini in terms of experience. Both teams however tend to fly by the seats of their pants a little in Europe and both sides look unbalanced.

If either could find a tactical edge to give their team, it could be crucial.

KDB to match the BBC?

A few eyebrows were raised at the transfer fee for the young Belgian during the summer but there is no doubting his contribution to the side this year.

City’s form during his prolonged injury absence was miserable and they have improved markedly since he came back.

With Yaya Toure missing through injury, City’s team should have a better balance to it with De Bruyne given the platform he needs.

City of course also have the prodigious talents of the likes of Aguero and Silva but if KDB can fire then have a serious chance of getting the win they need.

City need another mature performance

With Yaya out, we can expect to see both Fernando and Fernandinho in tandem. That could prove crucial if they can keep both their shape and discipline.

The likes of Toni Kroos and Luca Modric can tear you apart if they are given time and space on the ball but if they are closed down and harried they can be got at.

City were patient against PSG last time out but this is probably a step up again. Given that Benzema and Ronaldo do no look 100 percent then City have a decent chance.

They must however keep their concentration over the whole piece and remain calm, something that Kompany’s presence will help with greatly. They must most importantly keep their shape whilst closing down Real’s midfield.

A Champions League final has been a long time coming for City, if they are to convert it then they need their biggest performance yet.

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Andy Penders

Andy Penders is a well known sports broadcaster in Asia having worked for ESPN STAR Sports, Fox Sports and Mio Stadium.

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