Man City vs Real Madrid news: Karim Benzema can take advantage of City injury crisis

Pep Guardiola's Man City face Real Madrid and look to go one better after losing to Chelsea in last year's Champions League final

Manchester City's dreams of getting their hands on the Champions League trophy for the first time continue, and their current form would suggest this year could be the one.

One major hurdle though is one giant team called Real Madrid as Pep Guardiola prepares his team for Tuesday's semi-final first-leg.

It's the Premier League leaders facing La Liga leaders at the Etihad Stadium.

Guardiola said on Monday that City need 'two exceptional games' and his players will be desperate to impress and go one better after losing 1-0 to Chelsea in their first Champions League final last season.

When: Tuesday 26 April, 20:00 BST

Where: The Etihad Stadium, Manchester

How to watch: BT Sport 2

Follow this game via our score centre

Istvan Kovacs will be officiating in Manchester

Who is the referee for Man City vs Real Madrid

Istvan Kovacs will be the man in the middle for this tasty Champions League semi-final first leg in Manchester.

The 37-year-old Romanian has refereed 10 games in the Champions League since 2018/19 and he's no stranger to Pep Guardiola's men either.

Kovacs oversaw the first leg of City's tie against Atletico Madrid. He also refereed the Premier League champions' 5-1 group-stage win away to Club Brugge.

In his 10 games in the Champions League, he has shown 48 yellow cards and 1 red card.

Earlier in the season Kovacs brandished 11 cards during the clash between Sevilla and Lille - the joint second-most in a game in Champions League history. You've been warned City!

Games refereed by Istvan Kovacs in 2021/22: Games (33), yellow cards (169), red cards (8)

Recent form

City will be buzzing with confidence despite their illustrious visitors. They had the tenacity and calmness to edge Atletico Madrid in a fiery quarter-final and they are sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League with Liverpool breathing down their necks.

With Gabriel Jesus on fire after his four goals against Watford at the weekend and Kevin de Bruyne, Jack Grealish and Raheem Sterling all looking in top form, while Ruben Dias is back in defence, Guardiola's boys have every reason to be upbeat.

The headache of being dumped out of the FA Cup will be long forgotten. Bigger prizes await. Ten goals in their last three games - City are in solid form.

Real are also red-hot. Just a month ago, they were reeling after a 4-0 thumping by Barcelona at the Bernabeu. Carlo Ancelotti's team have won every game since and are now cruising to the league title thanks largely to Karim Benzema - 39 goals in 40 games in all competitions this season.

Players in form

Kevin de Bruyne continues to pull the strings in midfield and will be the orchestrator of most City attacks on Tuesday night.

But City's squad depth is remarkable. Raheem Sterling is in fine form, while Gabriel Jesus seems to be getting livelier and livelier in front of goal despite speculation over his possible City exit in the summer.

Benzema is an absolute certain to start against City but it's not just the French veteran they need to keep an eye on. Brazilian Vinicius Junior has been shining on the wing with his link-up play with Benzema.

And to cap all that attacking talent, look out for Thibaut Courtois who's been dazzling between the sticks and is likely to be kept busy at the Etihad.

Past meetings

Pep Guardiola

It's honours even across the board for head-to-heads. Two wins for each and two draws with each team scoring seven each in those six games.

The two clubs first played each other in the group stage of the 2012/13 Champions League, with Real winning 3-2 at the Bernabeu before a draw in Manchester two months later.

They next faced each other in the 2015/16 semi-finals. The first leg was goalless at the Etihad Stadium before the Spaniards won the second leg 1-0 in Madrid thanks to a Fernando own goal.

Their last clash was in the last-16 stage of the 2019/20 competition. City won the first leg 2-1 on their travels, followed up with a 2-1 victory in Manchester.

Managers' thoughts

Pep Guardiola will hope Kevin De Bruyne will shine

"We have to be so precise against them," Pep Guardiola said on Monday. "I said to the players: 'Enjoy it, prepare for the game. It could be once in a lifetime [experience], nobody knows.'

"There is no sense to not enjoy it, we want to be ourselves."

Carlo Ancelotti added: "You've got to manage the game properly. The change in the rules on the goals means that everything is more open and in these types of games there's a mix of happiness because we're very close to reaching the final of the leading club competition in the world, whilst there's the concern that comes from facing a strong side.

"We're used to that because we've had some really tough games in this edition of the Champions League."

Predicted teams

Man City may be flying in the Premier League but there's no doubt Pep has a defensive headache or three. Joao Cancelo is suspended from the first leg, while Kyle Walker missed the win over Watford with an ankle injury, alongside John Stones.

Nathan Ake has struggled with fitness in recent weeks while the rock in defence Ruben Dias has only just returned from a bad injury. Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden can expect to see some action.

Man City (4-3-3): Ederson; Zinchenko, Dias, Laporte, Ake; Bernardo, Rodri, Gundogan; Mahrez, De Bruyne, Foden

Phil Foden is likely to be in action at the Etihad

Real Madrid have no suspension worries with Eder Miltao back from his ban. However, Carlo Ancelotti is not without concerns.

David Alaba was taken off with a thigh issue against Osasuna but he has still made the squad and could feature alongside Casemiro and Ferland Mendy.

Luka Modric was given a day off for the win over Osasuna and will surely be back in midfield alongside the returning Toni Kroos. Marcelo should be fit enough to play again and feature at left-back for Mendy if required.

Real Madrid (4-4-2): Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Nacho, Marcelo; Kroos, Camavinga, Modric; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius Junior

Man City vs Real Madrid prediction

Pep may have a few worries at the back, but he has plenty of armoury upfront to keep Real Madrid on the backfoot.

Benzema and Vinicius will be a menace throughout but with Ancelotti expected to play it cautiously knowing the second leg awaits in Madrid, City will fancy their chances of grabbing some goals.

Will Jesus be grabbing the matchball again after his heroics against Watford? With Foden, Mahrez, Silva and De Bruyne all capable of opening up any defence, the hosts may just have the edge. Probably just the odd goal in it but City will be desperate to nick this one.

READ MORE: Sterling looking to break Rooney's Champions League record

Latest news