[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Money, talent and egos will collide on Tuesday in Madrid as EPL champion Manchester City opens group play at the Bernabeu against last season's La Liga winner Real Madrid ...
TV: Real Madrid-Manchester City (2:45 pm ET, Fox Soccer Channel.)
In their respective league play so far, Premier League champion Manchester City is unbeaten against a soft early schedule, while Real Madrid is in crisis mode, as the reigning La Liga champion is already eight points behind Barcelona.
Every point will be crucial in this formidable Champions League group that also features champions from Germany and the Netherlands, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax.
Manchester City’s 1-1 tie at Stoke on Saturday featured debuts from three new players: Scott Sinclair, Maicon and goalscorer Javi Garcia. Coach Roberto Mancini also expects former Atletico Madrid star Sergio Aguero back from injury against Real, but he will be more concerned about his defense. After conceding at Stoke, Joe Hart has yet to register a shutout four games into an EPL schedule that included visits by Southampton and QPR. Man City’s defense must be sharper to earn even a point in Madrid.
Real Madrid is chasing a record 10th Champions League trophy, after setting La Liga records for points and goals last season. Real Madrid beat Barcelona over two legs in August’s Supercopa but is desperate for good news. After two weeks of speculation regarding Cristiano Ronaldo’s “unhappiness,” a disappointing 1-0 loss at Sevilla on Saturday prompted harsh words from Real Madrid’s coach Jose Mourinho.
“More than the points, I am worried that in this moment I don’t have a team,” Mourinho said. “There are very few minds who are committed and concentrated, and who have soccer as the priority in their lives.”
Mourinho said Ronaldo isn’t the only issue, including himself among the culprits, “I’m the coach, and the responsibility is mine”.
One thing is certain. There will be ample discussion about whether Cristiano is smiling, or smirking, against Manchester City on Tuesday.