Real Madrid and Manchester City will be looking to book their spots in the quarter-finals of the European Champions League when they welcome Atalanta and Borussia Monchengladbach respectively for the second legs of their last-16 tie tonight.
Madrid, the 13-time European champions, head into the clash in Madrid, having recorded a 1-0 victory when the two teams met in the first leg on February 24, with Ferland Mendy netting late on for the Spanish club.
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Los Blancos will be looking to avoid being eliminated in the last-16 stage of the Champions League for the third year in a row, having lost to Ajax and Manchester City in this round in each of the last two campaigns.
The Spanish champions have only actually won five of their last 11 games in this competition, losing seven of their last 18, but they have been victorious in 11 of their last 12 fixtures with Italian opposition, including two successes over Inter Milan in the group stages of this season’s tournament.
Atalanta have it all to do in the Spanish capital, and they will be rueing Remo Freuler’s 17th-minute red card in the first leg, which handed Madrid a huge advantage and ultimately ended in the home side losing.
Atalanta reached the quarter-finals of last season’s Champions League in their first-ever appearance in the competition, ultimately losing 2-1 to eventual finalists Paris Saint-Germain; La Dea actually led the last-eight tie until the very final moments, when the French champions found two late goals.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s side have impressively won their last five Champions League away matches, while they have been beaten in just seven of their last 30 European fixtures, recording 14 wins in the process.
Atalanta will be visiting Madrid for the first time, and they have only ever taken on Spanish opposition on one previous occasion, beating Valencia in the last-16 stage of last season’s competition.
In the same vein, Manchester City will be in Puskas Arena in Budapest with a 2-0 advantage from the first leg.
With the Premier League title all but wrapped up, and a domestic trophy cabinet full to the brim with FA and EFL Cups, Pep Guardiola would love nothing more than to end his Champions League hoodoo at the Etihad Stadium this time around.
After sweeping aside the competition in the group stage, Man City needed no second invitation to assume control of their last-16 battle in the first leg thanks to goals from Silva and Jesus, with Guardiola’s men now bidding to make the quarter-finals for the fourth year in a row, and hopefully not to be knocked out at that stage four years in a row.
While making the last 16 represents Monchengladbach’s best-ever finish in the Champions League at the third attempt, the Bundesliga outfit have only ever emerged victorious in one of their seven meetings with Man City – a 3-1 win in the 1978-78 UEFA Cup – with the Manchester giants winning four out of their last five against Monchengladbach since the 2015-16 Champions League campaign.
Real Madrid and Manchester City will make it to the quarter-final of the UEFA Champions League comfortably.
By Olusola ‘Jide with agency reports