Manchester City have waited a long time to make it to a semifinal of the Champions League. Having finally done that, the last thing they will want is to get overwhelmed on the big stage, with a seriously-strong opponent in Real Madrid waiting to pounce.
The first leg of this intriguing tie could be the one that makes or breaks either team. Get a couple of away goals, and Real Madrid will feel confident of finishing the job off at the Bernabeu, while if Manchester City manage to keep a clean sheet while banging in a couple at the other end, that second leg in Madrid could be the day their club makes some unforgettable history.
"It's very important to enjoy the semifinal as it's not an achievement we do every year," Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini was quoted as saying by the club's official website. "The players know that. It's important not to be comfortable because we're at this stage. Everyone wants to continue, to play the final. (Against Real Madrid) we'll see a team that will play to win."
In that team, however, there will be no Yaya Toure or Samir Nasri. Toure has failed to recover from the muscle injury picked up in the win over Stoke City, while Nasri, owing to a long-term injury, was not registered for the second half of the Champions League season. One player who will feature and has declared himself "100% fit" is the captain Vincent Kompany, who expects great things from his team when they play one of the most decorated outfits in Europe.
"I'm 100% fit, everything went well and, as always, unfortunately, when you're injured you have to work a lot harder than the rest and that's what I did," Kompany said.
"We play against one of the greatest clubs of all-time. Our support tomorrow will be able to make the difference. If they turn up, I've never seen a City team not perform when the fans turn up. Otherwise, what's the point of buying a ticket? That's what we need from them."
Real Madrid go into this first leg Champions League semifinal with a bit of an injury cloud on their main man Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese sat out the weekend win over Rayo Vallecano in the La Liga, but has travelled with the squad. Zinedine Zidane went as far as to say Ronaldo is a 100% fit, with Karim Benzema also recovering in time to take the field against Manchester City.
"They've made great recoveries and they're in perfect shape, today they're 100% fit," Zidane said of Ronaldo and Benzema. "They're players who look after themselves and my plan is for them to be 100% fit."
While injuries bothered Ronaldo and Benzema, it was the third act of the "BBC" – Gareth Bale -- who took all the plaudits on Saturday, scoring a brace to help Real Madrid recover from two goals down and stay in the hunt for the La Liga title. Bale has played many times against Manchester City, during his time with Tottenham, and he could end up being the go-to man for this Champions League semifinal.
"I'm feeling good," Bale told reporters. "It's great to be back in England and I'm really looking forward to the game. We know that it's going to be tough and it'll be an exciting one for the fans. This game is one of the reasons why you become a footballer, to play in these types of games and to win trophies."
Where to Watch Live
The Champions League semifinal between Manchester City and Real Madrid is scheduled for an 8.45 p.m. CET (7.45 p.m. BST, 2.45 p.m. ET, 12.15 a.m. IST) start. Ten 2 and Ten 1 HD will broadcast the Champions League match live in India on TV. Viewers in India can also watch the match live online by live streaming on Tensports Live.
Audience in France, Spain, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, the Middle East and North Africa can watch the game live on TV on Bein Sports, with the live stream option on Bein Sports Connect. Viewers in Australia can also watch the Champions League semifinal live on SBS One.
BT Sport Europe and BT Sport Ultra HD will show the match between Manchester City and Real Madrid live in the UK and Ireland, with the online live streaming option on Watch BT Sport.
Fox Sports 1 will show the UCL game live in the US, while the semifinal first leg can also be live streamed online on FoxSoccer2Go.
Audience in Canada will be able to watch Manchester City vs Real Madrid live on TSN 1, 3, 5, 4 and RDS 2, with the live stream option on TSN TV.
SuperSport 3 and SuperSport Live Video will broadcast the game live in South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa.