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Manchester City - Real Madrid
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3 things learned: Man City v. Real Madrid

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Manchester City – Real Madrid was a fairly straightforward win for the hosts, as they reached the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals by beating the 13-time European champions 2-1 on the night and 4-2 on aggregate.

[ MORE: Champions League predictions ]

Raheem Sterling opened the scoring for Man City after a bad mistake from Raphael Varane was ruthlessly punished. Real’s Eden Hazard and Karim Benzema combined well at times and although Ederson denied them early on, Benzema pulled one back in the first half as Rodrygo’s cross was nodded home by the French striker.

Benzema and Jesus both went close for either team in the second half and the latter made the most of another big mistake from Varane to make it 2-1 and seal Man City’s spot in the quarterfinals for the third-straight season with relative ease.

[ LIVE: Champions League schedule ]

Here’s a look at what we learned from the Etihad, as Manchester City – Real Madrid was an open affair but the hosts always looked in control.


CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DREAM ALIVE FOR MAN CITY

Pep Guardiola is like Indiana Jones entering the desert on his way to reaching the holy grail. Lisbon is now his ‘Canyon of the Crescent Moon’ as Man City have a quarterfinal, semifinal and final between them and footballing immortality. Man City have longed for Champions League glory and given their successful appeal against their two-season UEFA ban, they will now stride into Lisbon, Portugal as the favorites to be crowned champions of Europe. They strolled past Real Madrid and even without the injured Sergio Aguero, you’d fancy them to sweep all before them to reach the promised land. Man City have always found a way to mess things up in the Champions League but this season feels different. They gave up their Premier League trophy easily to Liverpool but it seemed like the Champions League was always the main focus this season. They now face Lyon in the quarterfinals and then their toughest test, likely either Barcelona or Napoli in the semifinals. Guardiola knows the holy grail is within reach as he is closer than ever to finally delivering the trophy Man City’s Abu Dhabi owners have built this whole project to win.


SLOPPY REAL MADRID EXIT WITH A WHIMPER

Missing captain and legendary Sergio Ramos through suspension from the first leg, Real Madrid needed young defender Edgar Militao to step up in is place. They did not need silky smooth defender Raphael Varane to give the ball away early on to give up a cheap and avoidable goal. Although Real recovered from that early error, they failed to get Luka Modric on the ball as much as they wanted to and Eden Hazard and Benzema only showed flashes of promise. Just when it seemed like Real would push hard for a second goal which would have taken the game to extra time, Varane made another big mistake. And that was that. After impressing in La Liga since the restart and winning the Spanish title, Real Madrid looked remarkably subdued as perhaps a few weeks off before this game impacted them. The Kings of Europe will have to wait another year to add another crown to their collection. Manchester City – Real Madrid was historic, as it marked the first time Zinedine Zidane has ever lost a Champions League game in the knockout rounds. The way his team limped out of Europe was surprising and disappointing for Real Madrid.


PEP BEATS ZIZOU, BUT FALSE NINE FAILS

It was a surprise to see Phil Foden start ahead of David Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva in a game of this magnitude but there’s always a method to Pep’s madness. And it isn’t madness, is it? It’s genius. Just like he did in the first leg at Real Madrid, Pep raised eyebrows as he started a central midfielder (Foden this time, Kevin de Bruyne in the first leg) as a false nine. Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling were rampant from each flank early on, putting defenders under pressure in their own box, and that was how they opened the scoring. But Man City then failed to build on that lead and let Real back into the game. Pep changed things around at half time and Jesus looked more comfortable centrally and so too did Foden. It was a small tweak but it got Man City back on track and Guardiola’s tactical nous made the difference, even though Man City were handed the win on a platter thanks to Real Madrid’s shaky defensive display.

LIVE, Man City-Real Madrid, Juventus-Lyon: How to watch, team news, updates

Manchester City - Real Madrid
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Manchester City – Real Madrid should be an absolute classic in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg on Friday (start time, 3pm ET) at the Etihad Stadium, while Juventus – Lyon should be a beauty too as the Italian giants must overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg in France.

Both games are locked at 1-1 at half time and set up for classic second halves.

Pep Guardiola and Man City have a 2-1 lead from the first leg in Madrid back in late February before the coronavirus pandemic paused play, as Kevin de Bruyne put in a masterful display in the Santiago Bernabeu to give City the edge. Since then Man City have had their Champions League ban overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and Real have won La Liga as Zinedine Zidane’s side were in imperious form after the restart.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

With midfield and attacking stars set to dazzle on both teams, this is not a game you want to miss as the quarterfinal stage onwards will be held in Lisbon, Portugal. Man City are favorites to win the Champions League, their holy grail, but the most successful team in the history of the competition stands in their way.

Check out the latest Manchester City – Real Madrid team news, betting odds, how to watch and stream, score prediction and more below, as live updates on both games will be available by clicking on the link above.


Team news

Man City are without the injured Sergio Aguero and the suspended Benjamin Mendy is suspended, as Fernandinho starts at center back with Phil Foden starting ahead of Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and David Silva.

Real Madrid are without Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez who are in Madrid, while captain and legendary center back Sergio Ramos is suspended from the first leg and is replaced at center back by Militao.

 


What they’re saying

Man City midfielder Rodri is full of confidence ahead of facing Real: “I am really confident. They are a great team and they can beat you, because they are Real Madrid, but we have to show them we are a better team. We showed them at their home, but we need to be ready because you never know what is going to happen. We have to be focused. They are the greatest team in La Liga and they have shown that this year. We need to do our best to get to the next round.”

Raphael Varane on Real’s big-game experience being key: “We’re aware of the excellent work we’ve done over the past few years. It doesn’t happen often. We try to remember those days to keep working hard and try to take something out of that experience. We know that little things can make a difference in games like this. We’ve got a lot of experience in these big matches, so we can feel confident. We’re just as determined as before. Our goal is to win, and that’s partly due to the DNA of this club. We always want to put the past aside, move on and win.”


Odds and ends (full Champions League odds)

The bookies believe hosts Manchester City (-139) are the favorites but beware of a Real Madrid side (+320) with nothing to lose and everything to gain, especially with Hazard, Benzema and Rodrygo looking so good in recent weeks. The tie at +340 looks like the best bet here.


Prediction

This is a really tough one to call. Man City were superb after the restart in the Premier League but lost to Southampton and Chelsea, plus lost to Arsenal in the FA Cup semifinal. Defensive issues remain the key problem for Guardiola and Real’s star attacking lineup could expose that weakness. Real Madrid have been better defensively and ground out wins galore on their way to winning La Liga, but Zidane’s boys have to go for this and that will leave plenty of gaps at the back, especially without Ramos. I’m going to go for a 2-2 draw which will just see Man City squeeze through.


How to watch, stream Manchester City – Real Madrid

Date: August 7
Location: Etihad Stadium, Manchester – Round of 16 second leg (Man City lead 2-1 from first leg)
How to watch: CBS Sports
Live updates: Here at NBCSports.com

Man City demanding $40 million for Barcelona target Eric Garcia

Barcelona target Eric Garcia
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Barcelona target Eric Garcia is expected to leave Manchester City this month with just one year remaining on his current deal, but the Premier League side is said to want nearly $40 million for the 19-year-old center back.

[ MORE: Reports: Arsenal nearing agreement on new Aubameyang contract ]

Garcia, who joined Man City at the age of 16 in 2017 after 10 years in the Barcelona academy, has refused to sign a new contract in a presumed attempt to force a move away from the Etihad Stadium. Alas, City have no intentions of letting Garcia go for a massively discounted transfer fee.

“He told us that he doesn’t want to extend his contract with Manchester City, so he has one more year,” manager Pep Guardiola said this week. “We wanted it, but he doesn’t want to extend. I imagine he wants to play in another place.”

[ MORE: Report: Lille agree record fee for Canadian star Jonathan David ]

Barcelona are likely seeking their long-term replacement for Gerard Pique, who is now 33 years old and has just two years remaining on his contract. Coincidentally, Pique also left the Barcelona setup at an early age, 17, and moved to Manchester — United, that is — for a few years to kickstart his professional career. After playing sparingly during his four seasons at the club, Barca came in for the then-21-year-old. The rest has, of course, been a highly decorated career full of the game’s most important trophies.

Report: Barca, Chelsea offers for Willian; Inter Miami offer biggest money

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Money talks, but how loudly can David Beckham’s dollars speak to Willian?

Sky Sports reports that the Brazilian has offers on the table from Barcelona and Chelsea and interest from Arsenal but that the biggest offer comes MLS side Inter Miami.

This would be huge.

[ MORE: Sancho to Man Utd latest ]

Very few players of Willian’s ilk arrive at MLS still near the peak of their powers, even if the 31-year-old will seemingly find the other side of that hill soon. And we saw what’s happened with Carlos Vela, who’s never hit Willian’s heights, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

He finished tied for second on Chelsea with nine Premier League goals and led the side with seven assists. Willian’s 2.1 key passes per game tied for sixth in the PL.

The 69-times capped Brazilian has 63 goals and 62 assists in 339 career appearances for Chelsea.

Would Inter consider bringing Willian aboard and allowing him short-term loans in Europe? That would potentially assuage some of his concerns about the drop in prestige (as would the money).

A winner of the UEFA Cup/Europa League with both Shakhtar Donetsk and Chelsea, the lone jewel left in his team sports crown is the Champions League. Might that lure be even more than the money, especially considering the fact that Chelsea and Barcelona pay well above minimum wage?

If not, we would love to see what damage Willian would do in MLS.

Transfer news: Carlos to Liverpool, Man City; Suarez to Inter Miami

Carlos to Liverpool
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In the latest transfer news Diego Carlos to one of Liverpool or Manchester City is doing the rounds, while Luis Suarez could be heading to Inter Miami CF.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Starting in the north west of England, it is believed that Sevilla center back Diego Carlos is wanted by both Liverpool and Manchester City. According to a report from The Daily Star, the Premier League giants both want Carlos and are willing to pay the $100 million release clause to sign him.

Carlos, 27, has been linked with Liverpool for many months and the Brazilian defender helped Sevilla seal a top four finish in La Liga this season.

With Dejan Lovren leaving Liverpool for Zenit, Jurgen Klopp needs a new center back and Joe Gomez has been solid enough alongside Virgil van Dijk but perhaps needs more competition with Joel Matip struggling with injuries and youngster Sepp van den Berg not yet ready to be a first team regular.

If Carlos arrives at Liverpool he’d likely usurp Gomez who could move to right back and Trent Alexander-Arnold could be pushed forward. Just a thought.

As for Man City, we all know they need a new center back and even though they are close to signing Nathan Ake from Bournemouth for $53 million, they should probably double up and grab another new center back too. Aymeric Laporte needs help and after his injury woes this season it is clear that Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones are surplus to requirements.

Luis Suarez to Miami
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Switching from north west England to the south east of the United States, Luis Suarez has been linked with a move to Inter Miami in MLS.

Suarez, 33, has long been a target for MLS clubs and the latest reports says that David Beckham wants the Barcelona star to become Inter Miami’s first big-name Designated Player as they currently have one DP spot open.

According to Mundo Deportivo in Spain, Suarez is interested in a move to Inter Miami and although he has a contract through 2021 with Barcelona which will be automatically extended by one season if he plays in over 60 percent of matches in 2020-21, Suarez is thinking about the next step.

He suffered plenty of injuries during the 2019-20 season but still scored 19 goals in 34 appearances in all competitions. The Uruguayan forward will feature for Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League over the coming weeks but his future in Catalonia seems to be up in the air after six seasons and 196 goals for Barca.

Suarez to Inter Miami makes so much sense and it seems like a matter of when, not if, we will see him in Major League Soccer.